Yesterday a friend of ours posted on Facebook that her and her husband were looking to buy a 55″ HDTV. The responses were all over the chart, with sincere people making sincere comments. Don’t buy this model, do buy this model, and a host of other recommendations. As we enter into the holiday season, millions of Americans will be looking at buying a new HDTV. These consumers will be faced with a variety of different manufacturers, models, sizes, prices and different technologies.

I am going to explain the differences between different HDTV technologies, so that you as a buyer can make an intelligent decision when you enter a retail store. There are currently 3 different types of technologies currently available. The technologies are:

LCD vs LED vs Plasma

Here is a rather simple description of the three technologies. LCD, which stands for Liquid Crystal Display, is the most familiar technology for most of us. The is the same technology that makes up flat panel computer screens. The LCD panel gets activated when an electric current is applied. LED is very similar to LCD, but light-emitting diodes are used in the back light. Plasma HDTVs are completely different. Plasma works when electricity is applied to a sheet of separate plasma cells.

So which technology is the best?

My personal opinion is this. All 3 technologies provide excellent picture quality. Currently the most expensive of the three is LED, since it is the latest and greatest. Both Plasma and LCD sets have dropped dramatically in price and will be the best bargains this holiday season.

720p vs 1080p

I won’t get into the argument about which is better. Here is a simple formula to use. HDTV over 50″ go with 1080P, under 50″ HDTV 720P will suffice.

Energy consumption

LCD sets use less energy than Plasma. LED use less energy than either LCD or Plasma.

What to watch out for

Your local retailer may have a wall filled with different HDTVs, playing  looped material to show off the sets. I know of one local retailer that uses animated playback of popular movies. Animated movies make any set look great, even the cheap ones.

Another thing to watch out for is a HDTV that is set to demo mode. This makes the set look great in the store, but may not look as good when you get the TV home. Have the store clerk change the menu to home use.

Most HD sets come with factory presets. such as movie, game, sports and more. These settings change brightness, contrast, tint and such. See if the set comes with a manual preset so that you can adjust the set manually, just in case you do not like the factory settings.

Listen to the audio of the HDTV you are interested in purchasing. One of the biggest complains from reviewers is that some sets sound tinny and the speakers are inadequate. If you are going to hook up the set to a home theater system, you need not be concerned about the built-in speakers.

Reviews

Read the reviews. CNET is an excellent source for finding out what the experts think about a particular HDTV. Also do a search on the Internet for the TV set as well and see what others think. Stop by Best Buy, Amazon, or other retailers and read what others say about the set you are looking to purchase.

Friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and more

Ask others what they bought and how well they like their HDTV. This is an excellent source to find out what others think and will help you to make a intelligent decision. Think about it. Who would your trust more: Uncle Bill or the salesperson at your local retailer? 🙂

Share your buying experience with us. Also, what would you recommend to a first time HDTV buyer?

Comments welcome.