I’m sure by now many of you readers out there have taken the HDTV plunge, or maybe you’re about to go for a second helping of HDTV goodness. Either way this guide should help you arm yourself with enough knowledge to fight off those pesky pushy salespeople. Now there’s one thing that’s easy about buying TV’s…and that is, getting stiffed. This is my personal shopping guide for those of you who are on the market for a brand spanking new HDTV. I’ll do my best in telling you what to look for and how to go about getting it. For starters, knowledge is power. Knowing the ins and outs of how HDTV’s works and what best suits you will greatly push you along your HDTV buying journey. Whether it be Plasma, LCD, or DLP rear projection, figure what’s its best used for and how does it fit your needs. Keep in mind you might actually do other things on it besides play games, so check how it performs with SD/HD broadcasts as well as DVD/Blu-Ray.
1.) Never go on hear say:
Too often people tell me “my buddy has an LCD, so it has to be good because when he goes to the store he always asks for the best they’ve got!” Word to the wise: people that go shopping for electronics and ask the sales person for the “best they’ve got” usually get shafted. The sales person will immediately try to sell the crap that hasn’t been selling to this particular type of foolish consumer.
2.) The truth behind the 1080p myth:
This myth will soon fade; as 1080p is becoming the industry standard, but as of now it can still make a difference of up to a couple hundred bucks. The truth of the matter is that with a TV under 42″ (even if you have perfect 20/20 vision) the human eye cannot discern the difference between 1080i and 1080p. I don’t care what a sales person tells you, this is a FACT. A sales person will always want to sell you something that costs more money. If you sit more than 3 feet away from your TV (and you should, unless your Mr. Magoo) and are purchasing a TV 42″ or smaller, then 1080p should be a non-issue and keeping that in mind during your purchase could save you some greenbacks. Maybe you can use the money you saved for more games perhaps?
3.) To 120hz or not to 120hz? That IS the question:
The tech behind the feature is actually pretty silly when you think about it, and I think it was more of something that was stumbled upon, rather than being something intentional. 120hz, does not and cannot make your games look better, here’s why. Film and Blu-Ray’s run at 24p (that’s 24 frames per second), games on the other hand typically shoot for 60fps but wind up locked in at about 30fps with some exceptions. What 120hz does, is that it fills in the image with 5 false frames. For example, a 24P movie frame is repeated 5 times (24×5=120), basically the same frame is repeated while being sped up fast enough so it syncs with the audio, giving you an image that looks more like something shot on a camcorder, as opposed to having the authentic film look that movies are supposed to have. When you go to your local big box retailers and pass by the Sony kiosks I’m sure you and those around you can’t believe your eyes while watching the “Pirates of the Caribbean” on display and you think to yourself, “WOW! Blu-ray IS amazing,” (and it is) but the effect your seeing is 120hz, not so much the disc itself. In all honesty, I personally think the feature was added to TV’s so SONY can feed people that HDNA bullshit, but that’s just me.
4.) Contrast ratio! Contrast ratio! Contrast ratio! That’s what it’s all about:
Contrast ratio is something that should be on everyone’s shopping list when looking for a TV yet most people tend to overlook it. The contrast ratio, which is what determines how black your blacks get, is what truly gives an image that POP. An almost 3 dimensional look. Just think about it, the darker the black can get, the more vivid the green, blue and red hues can stand out from an image. Plasma’s are known to have the highest natural contrast ratio’s, LCD’s can achieve some high ones topping out around 40,000:1, yet can only right now do them dynamically (tv processing), with some exceptions namely the super expensive LED backlit SONY XBR8, and SAM LED TOC series. This is the main reason why when people ask me what set to buy I usually lean towards plasma’s.
5.) Pricing and Bargain Shopping:
Let’s be real if the difference between a Honda Civic and a 6 series BMW was a couple hundred bucks, you’d hold out and save up right? A TV is an investment just like a car, and the purchase of one should be treated as such. Don’t go on impulse. Take your time scouting out retailers, reading reviews and checking prices online. Make sales people compete for your money. It’s not your job to buy a TV; it’s the salesperson’s job to sell you one. There’s nothing wrong with asking some questions, as long as you’re armed with enough information to fight off the salesperson’s banter. I actually go to places like Best Buy and walk around the TV section looking lost, and ask stupid questions to see how much bullshit the salesperson feeds me. Then I throw it back in their face!
These are just some tips, to get you guys on your way to HD heaven, if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments section.