TV Technology Terms Explained
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TV technology terms explained

Explore TV technology terminology by category:

It's time for a new TV, but how do you know which one is right for you and your family? Here's an explanation of what all those initials and technology terminology mean.

TV type


LCD TVs: Liquid crystal display televisions. These TVs offer high-resolution pictures in a wide range of sizes. They're also energy-efficient and work well in all lighting conditions. Images tend to fade slightly when viewed from an extreme angle, but newer technologies are rapidly improving LCD TV viewing angles.


LED TV: Light-emitting diode televisions. These TVs are a specific type of LCD TV that offers several benefits compared to standard LCD TVs. These include a better and brighter picture with deeper blacks, a slimmer profile, greater energy efficiency and mercury-free production. Learn More about LED TVs

Internet-connected TV

An Internet-connected TV or Blu-ray player is able to connect to the Internet over a wired (Ethernet) or wireless (Wi-Fi) connection. This connection enables them to access and display a wide variety of online content, including movies, photos, videos, music, social-networking sites and much more. Learn More about Internet-Connected TVs


A 3D TV is a high-definition television that can display specially made three-dimensional movies, video games and broadcasts, in addition to regular "2D" video content. To view this 3D content, viewers must wear specialized 3D glasses. Learn More about 3D TVs

Plasma TV

Plasma TVs offer an affordable option for larger-size televisions (40–65"). Benefits include deep blacks and bright colors, good fast-motion imaging, and wide viewing angles. Plasma TVs do, however, tend to be bulkier and less energy-efficient, and since their screens are prone to image burn, they're not a great fit for gaming.

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LED TV terminology

Edge-lit LED TV

Edge-lit LED TVs are lit by LEDs placed only around the edge of the display panel. They offer a particularly thin profile, exceptional energy efficiency, and many of the picture-quality advantages of backlit LED TVs, including deeper blacks and a brighter, better picture.

Backlit LED TV

Backlit LED TVs are lit by many LEDs placed throughout the rear of the display panel. They offer exceptional picture quality, with deeper blacks and more vivid, accurate colors. They also allow for more precise, localized control over the dimness and brightness of specific areas of the screen (referred to as "local dimming").

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Internet-connected TV terminology

Internet TV apps

Internet TV apps are the software applications that your Internet-connected TV (or Blu-ray player) uses to access specific online functions, like movie rental and sales services (think VUDU or Netflix), photo and video-sharing services (like Flickr or YouTube), social media sites (like Facebook or Twitter), music-streaming services (like Pandora or Internet radio) and much more.

Wi-Fi dongle

A Wi-Fi dongle (yep, it's a real word) is a small, removable device that can be attached to a TV or computer (usually via a USB port). This allows the TV or computer to connect to a wireless (or "Wi-Fi") network, thereby enabling wireless Internet access.


The term "Wi-Fi" is short-hand for the wireless networks currently used in many homes and businesses (like coffee shops, etc.). They provide Internet connectivity via a wireless router.

Wireless router

A wireless router is the device that provides a home or business with a wireless network (often referred to as "Wi-Fi").

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3D TV terminology

Active 3D glasses

Active, or "active shutter," 3D glasses electronically sync their operation (wirelessly) with the 3D TV to produce a 3D image. They must be used with 3D TVs specifically made for active glasses. It's recommended you purchase the glasses manufactured by the same company as your television for maximum compatibility. 3D glasses run on batteries that occasionally need recharging.

Passive 3D glasses

Passive 3D glasses are polarized and function much like the ones used in today's 3D theater releases. These glasses do not sync electronically with the 3D TV, and must be used with 3D TVs made for passive glasses. The glasses come in a wide variety of styles and colors to suit your fashion sense.

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TV features

Display resolution

A TV's display resolution refers to the number of pixels (essentially little dots of color) that make up a TV's picture. TVs with a higher resolution have more, and therefore finer (smaller) pixels, which create a sharper, more detailed picture. The higher resolution of flat-panel TVs generally eliminate the fuzzy edges that were common among old TVs.

Refresh rate

A TV's refresh rate, measured in hertz (Hz), determines how many times the screen is redrawn each second. In general, the higher the refresh rate, the less image flicker you will notice on the screen. TVs with higher refresh rates also display fast motion much more smoothly. If you have gamers in your family, a higher hertz number (up to 600Hz) will make their gaming experience faster and more enjoyable.

Viewing angle

A TV's viewing angle is a measure of picture quality from off-center viewing positions. All TVs look best when viewed head-on, but TVs with wider viewing angles offer a higher quality (unfaded) picture to viewers farther off to one side or the other than TVs with narrower viewing angles. A viewing angle alone could determine the layout of your seating area. If you have a large room, consider a TV that allows a wider viewing angle.

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TV add-ons and accessory terminology


Blu-ray is an optical disc format (similar to DVDs) that can play high-definition movies and other video content. The discs are available with both regular and 3D content.

HDMI cable

HDMI cables carry both digital audio and video (at resolutions up to 1080p) in a single cable. They provide the highest-quality connections between your TV and Blu-ray players, HD cable boxes, personal computers, video game consoles and more.

Wi-Fi dongle

A Wi-Fi dongle is a small, removable device that can be attached to a TV or computer (usually via a USB port). This allows the TV or computer to connect to a wireless (or "Wi-Fi") network, thereby enabling wireless Internet access. Perfect for streaming movies and online content.

Streaming video player

A streaming video player (such as Roku or LG ST600 Smart TV Upgrader) allows you to access television shows and movies via a small box (the size of a coaster!) that plugs into your TV. It's very similar to cable, with many free movies and channels, but without a monthly fee or contract. It allows easy access to your accounts on Netflix, VUDU and other streaming media providers. Watch what you want, when you want to watch it.

Ready to start shopping? Check out this helpful TV Buying Guide.

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