Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Tech You To School: Buying a TV

So I get asked this question pretty often... "Dude, can you help me choose a TV?"
And this is what I usually tell them... "Shut yo face before I end your..."
Actually, I don't say that. The first question I usually ask is, "You want LCD or Plasma?"
They usually reply, "Which one's better?" and so here begins my advice.

It depends on what you plan on using it for. The short answer is that if you want a TV with very low maintenance, go with a LCD. If you want the best picture quality and don't mind paying a little attention to upkeeping your TV, go with a Plasma. But, if that was the answer I got, I'd be a little dissatisfied, so I'll give you the long answer, in hopes that you'll be able to make an educated consumer choice.

LCD's are very easy to plug in and watch. LCD's aren't plagued by the many issues that Plasmas have. You don't have to worry about burn in, which happens when you leave something static on your screen for too long (ie. a game scoreboard, the little logo at the bottom of some tv channels). So if you plan on watching nothing but Sportscenter on ESPN, LCD is probably the way to go. Also, you don't have to worry about the glare from a bright room with a LCD, which is something that Plasma owners have to deal with. Additionally, the general rule is that if you're looking for a TV under 42", you want to go with a LCD. There's not too many Plasmas you can purchase that is under that size. For all this low maintenance though, you're gonna lose out on picture quality. With LCD's, colors usually don't "pop" off the screen and with fast movie motions like explosions or car chases, you're gonna get pixelation.

Plasma TVs are everything opposite of LCD's. Yes, you do have to worry about burn in, BUT if you properly break in your TV for about the first 250 hours or so, this becomes a nonexistent issue. Breaking in a TV entails lowering all the brightness and color settings to low and avoiding content that has any type of static images. This means no black bar DVD's, no SportsCenter, no History Channel (damn that big yellow H at the bottom right!), etc.. And I'll tell you this much, those first 250 hours are a pain in the butt. 250 hours are more or less 24 hours of looping a DVD for 11 days straight. (Yea, I did it.)

Also, with plasmas, you have to be conscious of where you're placing the TV. If your TV is facing the opposite of a bright window, forget watching TV in the daytime. The sunlight will be all in your face and it'll just not be very pretty. But once you figure these things out, man oh man, that picture is sweet. Colors are vivid, HD content is super crisp and clear... it's great. Plasmas inch for inch are usually about a 1/4 cheaper than LCD's too.

The brands you want to stick with are as follows:
LCD: LG, Samsung, Vizio, Westinghouse
Plasma: Panasonic, Panasonic, Panasonic... and Pioneer (best in class). If you have that kind of money, in which case... hook a brotha up!

Size wise, I always recommend buy the biggest you can afford. An average TV has a life span of 6-10 years depending on how well you keep it. You have to think of it as an investment. The last thing you want is to move and find that the TV you have is too small for your living room and now you're squinting to watch that tiny 32" screen from 20ft away. The general math though is, for every foot of distance you are sitting from your TV, you want 7" of viewing space. So 5 feet from your tv? You want 36". 8 Feet? 42" 10 feet? 50". You get the idea. Happy TV watching!


Sang Hoon said...

Oo I'll keep this in mind for my future TV purchase.

Joshua said...

wow, Andy, I did not know all this about you.