LCD TVs Tips

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Why might I want to buy an LCD TV?

Advantages of LCD TVs

When you're shopping for a big ticket item, lik a TV, you want to make sure you weigh the pros and cons. Some of the key reasons to buy an LCD TV:

  • Available in a very wide range of sizes
  • Function well in almost any lighting situation
  • Effective displays for gaming and PC content, as well as TV and movies
  • Immune to "burn-in"
  • Not affected by high altitudes (that's why you see them on planes)
  • Consume less power than plasma TVs

Where do people put LCD TVs in their houses?

An LCD in Every Room?

LCD TVs come in many sizes -- there's even a 5-inch one that you can carry in your pocket and set up on a table or desk to watch. Because they're so thin and versatile, it's possible to imagine a house with an LCD in every room. From the living room, with its 50-inch home-theater setup, let's move into the kitchen, where a 13-inch screen embedded into the refrigerator door helps the family catch a weather forecast before dinner. In the garage, a 20-inch LCD TV hangs over the workbench, while upstairs a slightly larger set in the bedroom serves to show Mom's workout DVDs. There's even a 15-inch LCD TV cleverly embedded into the bathroom mirror!

Why might I choose an LCD TV?

Why Choose LCD?

Why might you choose a flat panel LCD TV over plasma or other kinds of televisions? For one thing, LCDs have a lot of the advantages of plasma -- very thin screens, great pictures and a wide variety of available sizes. (You can even get a refrigerator with an LCD TV in the door!) LCD TVs are lighter and use less energy than plasma sets, making it easier to use them in a variety of settings, including wall mounts. They are the preferred choice for people who want to use their TV screen for video gaming or Web browsing, because LCDs are not at all prone to burn-in, as some plasma sets can be.

How do I clean my LCD TV?

An Important Caution on LCD TVs

If you grew up with a CRT TV, you might recall how well it attracted dust. You may have even been handed some Windex and instructed to clean the screen.

Do not do this with your LCD TV! Many ordinary glass cleaners contain ammonia and will either permanently discolor the display or leave a film behind.

Instead, dampen a lint-free or microfiber cloth (like the ones that come with eyeglasses) and then wipe the screen clean. Don't use paper towels, which can leave fibers behind, and don't spray anything right at the screen -- just dampen the cloth.

The good news is that LCD TVs do not collect as much static as CRT sets, and may not need to be dusted as frequently.

How can I get the best possible picture from my TV?

Calibrate Your LCD TV

Sad to say, your new Sony LCD television (or whatever brand you bought) did not come to your home perfectly adjusted for your living room. Indeed, manufacturers generally use settings that are wrong for home use. Why? Because they know that their TVs are most likely going to be displayed on a showroom floor with bright, fluorescent lighting. They want the image to "pop" and attract the customer's eye.

The image that "pops" on the sales floor is not the best possible picture for home viewing. Some common adjustments can deliver a better viewing experience -- the one you paid for when you bought the TV.

Use the same light you would normally use to watch TV. Experts recommend a dim light to the rear or side of the television (watching in darkness can cause eyestrain). "Warm up" your set by running it for at least 30 minutes before you start calibrating it. While the TV is warming up, get out the manual and locate the picture controls to adjust:

  • Contrast (or Black)
  • Brightness (or White)
  • Color (sometimes called Chroma or Saturation)
  • Hue (sometimes called Tint)
  • Sharpness (or Detail)
Most LCD TVs are sold with the sharpness turned up. You can adjust it to what looks best for you, and at the same time turn off any "edge enhancement" features, which tend to distort the picture. Adjust the four color settings according to your taste, as well. (If you are even slightly color-blind, you may wish to ask a sharp-eyed friend to help you with this part.)

If your TV has "modes" for various kinds of content, choose "movie" or "cinema" for the most accurate picture. Also check the backlight settings for your LCD TV. Most are set too bright for home use. Adjust it to suit your room so that you can save power and enjoy your picture more.

What are the biggest LCD TVs?

The Biggest LCD TVs

If you're after a seriously large screen, there's a Sharp LCD TV that measures 108 inches diagonally. Unveiled at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, it will probably be sold in small numbers to corporate customers.

For the rest of us, 50 or 60 inches is usually what will fit comfortably into an ordinary room -- and all that can be paid for out of an ordinary wallet. Sharp's super-huge screen is more a promotional tool than profit-making product, meant to draw attention to its smaller, highly rated line of AQUOS LCD TVs.

How do LCD TVs work?

How LCD TVs Work

Unlike other kinds of televisions, LCD TVs (and all LCD displays, which probably include the monitor on which you're reading this) have separate systems for producing light and color. That means you'll never have to worry about burn-in on your screen, no matter how long you play the same game or leave the program-guide channel on. A fluorescent panel behind the liquid crystal display produces light. This is the part of your TV most likely to need replacing later on. On top of the light are liquid crystals and tiny electrodes. The crystals and electrodes work together to block the light from shining through where it doesn't belong. On top of them, a layer of color filters produces the required colors in your picture. Glass plates and polarizing filters form a sandwich to hold all this in place and keep the display looking great.

What are some issues that might come up with LCD TVs?

Issues with LCD TVs

The chief drawback to LCD TVs is their ability to render blacks. While LCD makers have made great strides in this area, those who can't live without the perfect picture (or who just watch a lot of noir movies) may still prefer plasma.

Another area in which earlier LCD TVs were lacking was in motion tracking. Because of the way LCD images are formed, images of movement were sometimes blurry. Most TV makers have taken steps to prevent or at least cut down on this problem.

Both of these issues are dealt with in LCD TV reviews, but reading these is not the same thing as experiencing the picture for yourself. What looks good to one reviewer may not look good to your eye. Look before you buy.

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Ray Lokar