How to Buy a Digital LCD HDTV: 7 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Liquid crystal displays offer perhaps the widest variance among flat panel sets in terms of size, refresh rates and overall picture accuracy. Divided among cold-cathode florescent or higher-end light emitting diode or LED backlighting, LCD sets also offer a wide degree of pricing. Although all modern LCD sets display digital high-definition signals, there are plenty of individual choices you need to weigh to purchase the best set for your needs.

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    Resolution vs. Size: Nearly all of today's LCD sets 46 inches and above display 1080p resolution. Unless you are inches from the screen, the individual picture elements that comprise the picture are almost impossible to see independently. What that means in terms of picture size is that your screen size comfort level, type of content you watch and room aesthetics make up the important choices. If you find yourself moving your head from side to side when watching fast action, you may experience viewing fatigue or even nausea in severe instances. Lower-resolution 480i sources like basic cable and VHS tapes don't look as crisp on larger screens, making unwanted artifacts and picture noise more visible. Additionally if you have a relatively large or small room and choose a disproportionately sized set, it might look odd. One trick is to measure the existing artwork hanging in the space, selecting a television within a few inches of the average size of each piece.
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    3-D or Not? Far different than the Cracker Jack box 3-D glasses you wore as a kid, today's 3-D technology makes even 2-D sources pop off of the screen. This effect ranges from subtle to exaggerated. Additionally, you typically must wear glasses of some sort to properly view this content, which might prove undesirable at times. If you want to view actual 3-D content, your choices are limited. There are some 3-D Blu-ray titles available, but DirecTV is the only provider with 3-D offerings, outside of ESPN 3D, which is also available through Comcast, Bright House, Verizon and Time Warner Cable, as of October 2012. You might also need a compatible home theater receiver to pass the signal.
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    Far different than the Cracker Jack box 3-D glasses you wore as a kid, today's 3-D technology makes even 2-D sources pop off of the screen. This effect ranges from subtle to exaggerated. Additionally, you typically must wear glasses of some sort to properly view this content, which might prove undesirable at times. If you want to view actual 3-D content, your choices are limited. There are some 3-D Blu-ray titles available, but DirecTV is the only provider with 3-D offerings, outside of ESPN 3D, which is also available through Comcast, Bright House, Verizon and Time Warner Cable, as of October 2012. You might also need a compatible home theater receiver to pass the signal.
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    Contrast Ratio: Contrast ratio, or CR, is possibly the most marketed specification used to differentiate various LCD sets. Often measured in terms of millions-to-one, contrast ratio shows at a glance the range of the purest whites and the deepest blacks displayed on the set. Problematically, there is no industry standard used to determine this measurement. Some companies measure black levels with the set turned off, or measure white levels using a small white box in the center of the screen. Generally speaking, paying attention to static contrast ratios yields a more honest representation of CR rather than dynamic measurements. Static ratings measure black and white range when displayed simultaneously, which is how people normally view images. Dynamic ratings mean that the best ratings are usually found only when displaying test patterns.
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    Connectivity Considerations: It's nearly impossible to avoid purchasing a new LCD set without HDMI connections. This cable type offers the highest audio and video performance, all in one connection. However, depending on your other hardware, you may have requirements besides HDMI. VGA and DVI ports are useful for connecting computers, while Ethernet jacks allow you to connect your set to the Internet and your network using an Ethernet cable. This connection allows you to access online weather and news, in addition to streaming content from popular sources like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. Some sets support Wi-Fi connectivity, letting you connect wirelessly instead.
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    CCFL or LED? CCFL is the "traditional" method of illuminating an LCD. This technique involves using rows or florescent bulbs behind the screen. Although an energy-efficient design, CCFL lighting is not the best at creating the black levels. LED sets may be edge-lit or locally-dimmed. Edge lighting arrays LEDs around the perimeter of the screen, enabling thinner and even more efficient sets than CCFL models. Locally dimmed sets take performance a step further, enhancing black levels and contrast. Typically, price increases as you move up the chain from CCFL to edge-lit sets, culminating in cost and performance with locally dimmed units.
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    Refresh Rate: Smaller and older LCD panels operated routinely at 60 hertz. This means every video frame you see is repeated twice per second. In an effort to alleviate jittery motion and streaking of fast-moving objects, this refresh has steadily increased from 60 to 120, 240 and 460 hertz. Although faster rates certainly solve motion blur issues, they also typically make film-based content look like soap operas or things filmed with a consumer video camera. If this effect is not desirable with certain sources, you can disable the feature and display content at the traditional 60 hertz rate.

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