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Choosing Your HDTV Television

by: Gregg Pennington

To take full advantage of the great number of HDTV stations you can get with your satellite system, you will want a television with a breathtaking picture and mind blowing sound. When shopping for a television today, you have many more options than just a few years ago. From several hundred dollars, to a price similar to that of a new Corvette, you can choose the television to fit your budget and lifestyle.

If you want to watch satellite programming you will need a tv that is at least HDTV ready. Your satellite service provider will supply you with an HDTV tuner. Even if you will not be watching much HDTV programming, there is still a huge benefit to watching a digital television. All HDTV and HDTV ready tv's contain upconversion circuitry that cleans up the picture with even non HDTV signals.

If you watch a lot of movies or dvd's, you might want to purchase a widescreen television. A widescreen tv has a 16:9 aspect ratio screen, as opposed to the traditional television screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio. You can enjoy watching movies on a screen shaped like a movie theater screen, and view non digital programming in a side cropped view, or stretch the picture to varying degrees to fill the screen. All HDTV programming uses the 16:9 aspect ratio.

The least expensive option is the good old fashioned CRT (cathode ray tube) television. It has been around since 1927, and it is the least expensive option. It is built around a single picture tube, and provides excellent contrast and overall picture quality. A higher end picture tube television will actually give a smoother appearance of motion than a flat-panel tv. The primary drawbacks of tube tv's are their immense weight (compared to newer technology), and the considerable depth of the sets themselves, both severely limiting your installation choices. Also, the largest tube television available is 36", so if you need a larger picture, you might want to step up to flat-panel television.

LCD and Plasma screens are the two options available in flat-panel televisions. Both are incredibly thin and lightweight, and can be wall mounted if you choose to do so. An LCD (liquid crystal display) contains thousands of crystals sandwiched between two glass or plastic plates, which are acted upon by electrical current, creating images on the screen. A plasma screen consists of thousands of pixel cells filled with gases that excite phosphors, producing light, and thereby your picture.

The weight of an LCD and a plasma tv are comparable, with the LCD models being slightly lighter in the 40" range. As the screen size approaches 60", the weight of the LCD overtakes that of the plasma screen. The display panel tends to last longer with the LCD than with the plasma models. LCD televisions are not vulnerable to burn-in, also known as image shadowing or ghosting, like plasma screens. Burn-in is essentially burned, or worn out pixels in a plasma screen that have been damaged over a period of time and retain color information from static images like network logos, etc... Plasma tv's tend to have more accurate color reproduction than LCD models, and are currently less expensive than a comparable LCD. While the largest LCD tv at this writing is 65", that is likely to change quickly as the technology evolves with the latest innovations in the computer monitor industry. The largest plasma screen television currently produced is the Panasonic TH-103PZ600U103", which boasts a massive 103" screen, and is expected to carry a whopping retail price of about $70,000 when is hits US markets in late 2006.

Remember the old, bulky rear-projection televisions that were almost a yard deep and weighed nearly as much as a VW Bug? Todays digital big screen tv's take up much less space, and a 60" television can weigh under 100 lbs. Digital big screens are capable of brightness that is unmatched by the older CRT televisions, and do not suffer burn-in like the plasma tv's. These digital big-screens also contains a consumer replaceable lamp that restores picture quality to its original brilliance. Prices for these sets are very reasonable, usually one half to two thirds the price of a similar sized plasma or LCD television. One disadvantage of the big screen tv's is still size; even with technological advancements, these models take more room for installation than the flat screen televisions, and are not practical for wall mounting. The ideal viewing angle is only achieved straight on, and in a seated position.

For a true movie theater experience at home, a front projection tv may be a good choice. This is a two piece system consisting of a projector and a screen. They offer picture sizes up to 300", and do not include any type of tv tuner, instead displaying signals from a satellite receiver or cable box. The best viewing experience with a front projection setup requires a fairly dark environment, and is definitely not for everyone. However, for cinema lovers, there is no better way to bring your favorite film to life. Pricing for good projectors starts at just under $1000, and screen prices vary according to size, with most models falling somewhere between $300 and $1500.

Whether you watch mainly sporting events, movies, or dvd's, a modern television can give new life to your favorite programming. As technology advances at an astonishing pace, prices for larger and more sophisticated television sets continue to come down. If you do some shopping online and find that you can't quite afford the tv that you want, save money for five to six months; no matter how much or how little you are able to save, chances are you will be able to afford the set you want as prices come down. Just don't blow the money you have saved - you might need to build a new room to house the larger set you will be buying in two years.

About The Author
Gregg Pennington owns the website http://satellitetv.easy-lookup.com, a site dedicated to satellite tv and television technology.

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