Buying Guide to Flat Panel TVs

If you’re looking to lose your bulky family room TV set and replace it with a slim-bodied and modern-looking flat panel, you’re going to make quite the investment. Yes, these new sets are pricey, but bring added benefits.

Here’s the big picture: Flat panel TVs come in two varieties: plasma and LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays). The difference is in how they signal a picture to appear on your screen. Both are a good choice, but knowing your needs will help you narrow down which type of TV is right for you.

A plasma screen TV will digitally shine fluorescent lights onto the front panel to make moving images. This television set is essentially a monitor that requires an additional device, called an external TV tuner, to be capable of displaying broadcast or cable signals. The pros of plasma are: they are very high-definition, they are available in very wide screen sizes, and they can rest on a TV stand or mounted, either on a wall or ceiling. Plasma TVs are also very slim at just a few inches thick, giving them a light-weight body.

There are some drawbacks to buying a plasma screen TV, however-namely the high price. You’re not likely to find a good sale, and prices will continue to stay high for the next couple years. Plasma screens also are only available in sizes 37-inches and larger. And though these sets begin with very high-definition pictures, they are also ask risk to show a decrease in picture detail in a little over a year from the time of purchase. Burn-in is another risk; displaying a paused screenshot over a long period of time can actually damage these screens. In short, higher priced plasma TVs can run you as much as $20,000, so it’s important to do as much research and price-shopping before you stand in front of the electronics salesperson with a perfectly trained and convincing sales pitch.

LCD panels, on the other hand, are made similarly to the screens on laptop computers. Because of the way they are made, these TVs can come even thinner (2 inches thick) than plasmas, making them lighter and even more conducive to wall-mounting. You can likely get a better deal on an LCD, with retail prices dropping over the last year. Also, the longevity of these TVs makes for a sound investment-you can watch one for several years without notice any decrease in picture excellence. They also have less of a potential for screen burn-in.

The major downfall of the LCD flat panel TV? They mostly come in small packages. A forty-inch screen may be plenty of television for most people, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any larger sets in LCD form. If you want to go larger than 40 inches, a plasma flat panel is going to be a better bet.

Both plasma and LCD TVs share another benefit-immunity to magnetic distortion caused by home audio systems. Magnetized charges in speakers can interfere with signals received by traditional TVs. But plasmas and LCDs are not effected in the same way, and they will not show strange discolorations on screen.

Flat panels are highly advanced, but they still cannot compare to the technology of the finest picture created by today’s best bulky tube TVs. And they are going to cost you much, much more than a tube TV of the same screen size-so make sure that you really want to convenience of a flat-panel before rushing out to purchase one. There is a great price you pay for the modern, trendy look of flat panels, and a talented salesperson may try to trick you into thinking that the benefits of owning one are greater than they really are.

However, if you are an early-adopter of technology, and flat is the look you are going for, you can surely find an LCD or plasma TV that will be right for you.

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