TV & Audio Buying Guide

What is the difference between a LCD, LED & Plasma Screen TV?

LCD TV

LCD is an abbreviation for  ‘Liquid Crystal Display’ an LCD screen, is a matrix of liquid crystal cells that are backlit by a fluorescent light source.

The LCD image is created when a precise electrical charge is applied to this matrix, manipulating the way the screen lets through the light being shone towards the viewer.

LCD TVs are largely outdated. The main contenders in the modern television market are LED and Plasma TV. However, a LCD screen may still be the most appropriate TV for you under the following conditions:

  • If you are looking for a TV at a budget price
  • You aren't really too worried about image quality.
  • You are looking for a backup or extra TV

LED TV

LED is actually a progression of LCD technology. That's why it is sometimes referred to as an LED/LCD TV.

The advantages of LED TV are as follows:

  • Extremely price-competitive technology, capable of spectacular Full High Definition and 3D content.
  • Technology is housed in units, which are lightweight and extremely thin.
  • Energy efficiency
  • Reflects less glare and light -since they use plastic screens rather than the glass screens used by Plasma TVs.
  • You don't have to worry about image burn-in. This is a problem more typically associated with Plasma screens. Image burn-in is caused when a still image is left on screen for a long period of time
  • Constant innovation in the LED TV field, lay claims to be the best flat-panel technology around.
  • Motion Enhancement: This is one of the pivotal features making it possible for LCD/LED to gain ground on Plasma technology.

This technology allows the TV to display fast-moving action more smoothly and without image blurring.

PLASMA TV?

Plasma is entirely different to LCD and LED screens. Plasma TVs work by using gas contained in a matrix of cells, which once subject to an electrical pulse, form a plasma which projects light toward the viewer.

 

When it comes down to it, the two major players in the marketplace for performance and screen quality are LED and Plasma technology. LCD is considered quite outdated.

Plasma screens can be prone to screen glare; however the latest plasma technology has focused on minimizing this issue.

The advantages of Plasma are as follows:

  • Great picture quality
  • Plasma handles 3D content easily.
  • Superb fast-moving scenes: no image ghosting or lag. This is most useful those who love sports and action movies.
  • Larger side-to-side viewing angles, which makes them ideal if placed in a large room with lots of people

What is Smart TV?

Smart TV is a popular buzzword that basically means the ability to connect to the internet and other devices.

The list of Smart TV capabilities is long and continues to evolve.

These TVs represent a major revolution in the way we engage with television as it allows viewers to integrate a variety of functions on the one screen. Smart TV offers everything from web browsing, to YouTube streaming and social networking.

The main functions of Smart TV are its ability to connect to the intenet, applications and facilitate social media networking.

  • Internet Connectivity.

IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) technology enables users to stream video and related services over the Internet through the TV. This is be done via the internet rather than traditional satellite, cable or terrestrial formats. IPTV covers time shift television, video on demand and mainstream television.

  • Using Apps

Apps, or application are essentially a piece of software. You'll find Smart TV Apps for things like games, Internet radio, entertainment and weather. Apps are available for every paradigm from exercise programs, to education for the kids, to in-depth football analyses etc.

Sometimes an app can be considered an "access point" for a whole lot of content or to deliver functionality.

An app will deliver a more dynamic, smoother performance TV experience - for instance, you don't have to think about remembering a website addresses or waiting for pages to load. Data will be loaded faster, providing a better user experience. Opening a page will be a case of clicking a button on your remote control instead of moving a cursor about on the screen.

All Smart TVs have a home page; this allows you access all the various app functions. Many new TVs come pre-loaded with popular apps that stream various kinds of content.

However, there are also app stores. These allow you to download add-ons. You'll find links to these on the TV's home page.

Please note: There isn't a kind of universal Smart TV "platform" for apps. Each vendor operates a unique app environment - so you can't translate apps across TVs.

  • Chatting with friends and family from your TV

You can enjoy social media on your big screen by interacting through Facebook, Twitter and Skype. Some Smart TVs have built-in cameras but in some cases you will have to buy an additional compatible camera.

  • Network Connectivity

Smart TVs can also be used to share content with compatible devices around your house.

That means, potentially, you can browse folders from your PC on your TV, or transfer images stored on your Smartphone to your big screen - the result being that everyone can enjoy what is being shown.

A common way to share information is via DLNA technology. DLNA is a standard for sharing data on a home network that applies industry-wide.

If your TV is DLNA Certified - then it will be able to share stuff with other DLNA Certified devices via your internet router. Check out your TV's specs to find out.

DLNA-compatible devices include: TVs, PS3s, Android Phones, Tablets, Wireless Printers, Camcorders, Routers and more.

What is 3D TV?

3D TV is essentially an extended optical illusion.

The 3D effect is achieved when each eye is given a slightly different image. Your brain is tricked these images in combination as a three-dimensional picture or one with the illusion of depth.

This revolution is similar to HD TV and the digital revolution. At the moment 3D broadcasting is minimal.  

Please note: a 3D TV is capable of playing 2D as well.

Do I have to wear the glasses?

As of January 2012, there are no viable and effective ways to enjoy 3D viewing in the home without the use of glasses.

Do LCD, LED, Plasma have the ability to be 3D TVs?

Plasma and LED/LCDs Televisions both deliver a high-standard of 3D viewing.

Both Plasma and LED/LCD technologies are able to achieve the high screen refresh rates 3D needs. A refresh rate, measured in Hertz (Hz), refers to how many times each second the screen is redrawn – it needs to be high, because the TV has to push out two separate and slightly different 2D video streams for the 3D effect to work). 

Typically it is considered that a bigger screen enhances the 3D effect. Anything less than 32 inches is considered to undermine the 3D effect.

 

3D Projectors

If you really want the ultimate 3D experience, then a projector can potentially deliver on a higher quality scale. They will only work with Active Shutter Glasses.

How do I get 3D television?

Currently, Blu-ray is the only way to get the 3D home theatre experience.

Please note: Only a 3D Blu-ray Player,  Recorder or a 3D Blu-ray Home Theatre System will deliver 3D content to a 3D TV. The standard Blu-ray player won’t be able to.

You also can’t get 3D content from a DVD player. DVD discs don’t have the required storage space.

What is the difference between Active versus Passive 3D glasses?

Active Glasses:

This variety incorporates a battery-powered mechanism. Active Glasses deliver clear, high quality, high-resolution images and are an effective solution for 3D Home Entertainment widely used by manufacturers.

As mentioned, they have an internal mechanism, and therefore take an “active” role in creating the 3D effect, which works by giving each eye a slightly different image

How do they work?

In Active Shutter Glasses, each lens is a tiny LCD screen capable of blocking vision to the eye it covers. The Shutter Glasses and their compatible 3D TV are synced so that when your TV projects an image intended for your right eye, your left eye will be shuttered black.

When it shows an image intended for your left, the right eye is shuttered black.

This creates the 3D experience.

Things you should know about Active Shutter Glasses:

  • They are battery-powered and will need to be recharged
  • They are becoming increasingly light-weight and more comfortable to wear despite the internal mechanism
  • Considered more costly than passive glasses
  • The constant shuttering maybe an irritation to some.
  • Shutter glasses are only compatible with the manufacturer’s 3D TVs.

Passive Glasses

Passive Glasses are lighter and cheaper than the Active Shutter variety, the Passive variety don’t incorporate any mechanism. The type of 3D glasses you wear at the cinema are passive glasses.

How do they work?

Passive glasses work with a television that shows two slightly different images simultaneously - one image for the left eye and one for the right.  The polarised filters in the glasses make sure each eye only sees the image it’s meant to.

Things you should know about passive glasses:

  • Cheaper than the Active variety.
  • In theory they offer the inferior picture quality against the Active Shutter Glasses – since each eye only sees half the resolution available.
  • Active Glasses provide a smoother, richer 3D effect. This is most noticeable on diagonal or curved edges. 

What is the difference between a Blu Ray Player and a DVD Player?

There are two types of audio-visual media player: DVD players and Blu-ray players.

Blu-ray are considered the superior format between the two however DVD are not dead yet. Here is a quick comparison between the two. 

Blu-ray advantages

First we should acknowledge where the Blu-ray definitely has the advantage over DVD players.

  • Larger storage capacity. A single Blu-ray Disc is capable of storing up to 50GB of information, while a DVD is only able to manage 8GB.
  • Blu-ray has better image quality: Blu-ray’s maximum resolution is Full High Definition 1920 x 1080p (1080p). DVD is limited to 720 x 480 (480p).
  • Blu-ray has better audio quality:
  • Blu-ray discs are capable of storing more special features:
  • Blu-ray players can also play DVDs.

DVD player advantages:

The reason the DVD has still stuck around is because:

  • Lower cost than Blu-ray
  • The availability of titles on Blu-ray is smaller than DVD. Depending on your circumstances, the stuff you want to watch may not be available.
  • Although not as great quality as Blu-ray, DVD image quality is not bad at all.

What is a PVR?

PVR stands for Personal Video Recorder. Sometimes also known as the DVR - or Digital Video Recorder. The device is, essentially, an evolution of the VCR - for the digital age, and is a sleek set-top box that uses a digital tuner and can often record in High Definition.

PVRs allows you the opportunity to record from multiple sources, the ability to schedule a whole seasons worth of programming, which even includes the intelligent capability to account for scheduling changes as well as other capabilities such as the ability to stream online content, order movies on demand and more.

The common feature to all PVRs is the in-built Hard Drive which is where you store the digital recording you've made from TV.

A hard drive has a number of advantages:

  • Improved recording quality
  • Timeshift capability. The ability to stop, play, pause and rewind live TV
  • Record more than one program at once
  • Some Smart TV have the ability to connect to the internet

The main disadvantage of a Hard Drive is that it only has so much memory to record to.

Electronic Program Guide

One of the great things about PVRs is that they come with an Electronic Program Guide or EPG. This appears on your screen as per a standard television guide.

It makes it easy to find the program you want to want to watch and set up a program of recording. You are even able to set up recording of a whole seasons worth of programming.

It can include information such as the scheduled start and end times for programs, program descriptions, actor info and more.

There are generally four types of PVRs:

  • DVD Player PVRs: come with an integrated DVD player. All DVD PVRs can record content to disc/DVD as well as the hard drive. They give you the advantage of being able to transfer recordings to DVD if you want to keep them.
  • Blu-Ray Player PVRs: come with an integrated Blu-Ray, thus allowing you the advantage of being able to play Full High Definition Blu-ray videos as well as recording to the Hard Drive. However, very few Blu-Ray PVRs can record to disc.
  • Stand Alone PVRs: refers to models that don't have the ability to play either Blu-Ray or DVDs.
  • Smart TVs have the ability to record to an external hard drive connected to your TV. It's called an "USB Extendable PVR" function. Look out for it on your TV's specs. It may be sufficient for those who only need to record once in a while and aren't looking for all the bells and whistles, which come with a PVR.

Subscription Services

Some devices include services that present greater functionality - provided you pay a subscription fee.

What is a Home Theatre System?

This refers to a setup of audio and video equipment in your house that brings the cinema movie-going experience to your home. 

What do you need for a home theatre system?

In a nutshell, you want to pair-up a great high-definition picture with the best surround sound.

There are three basic components you need to get going:

  • Great Display

A beautiful picture will be the focus of your system. This screen will be either a LCD, LED and plasma TVs, or a projector and screen,

Most modern TVs today provide high-definition (HD) resolution. If they don’t have it, they’re not worth it.

If you want to get the best image around, then check out the Full 1080p High Definition televisions. With a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, Full High Definition delivers superb clarity and detail.

Also look out for TVs indicating a ‘100Hz’ or ‘200Hz’ feature. These refer to the refresh rate – the number of frames shown per second (100 and 200 frames per second respectively). These rates are very good, and you will enjoy smoother action as a result.

  • A Multi-Speaker Sound System

If you’re looking for the best, most impressive surround sound, then you’ll definitely want a multi-speaker system.

True surround sound requires a minimum of five speakers, two front, two rear and center, plus a subwoofer, which delivers the bass. This is referred to as 5.1 Surround Sound (i.e. five speakers, one subwoofer).

There are a few variants based on this basic archetype. For instance, the 7.1 format, (including two extra speakers for side effects) is a step-up in sound quality – it can be found on most Blu-ray movies. 

  • Media Player

This is the brain of your system. Ideally it will deliver great images to your TV and pass surround sound audio, decoding it from media such as a Blu-ray disc, to your speaker system.

The best quality picture possible and the best surround sound will be delivered by a Blu-Ray player playing full 1080p video content from a Blu-ray Disc source.

DVD players offer a cheaper alternative to Blu-Ray – but are a compromise in image and audio quality. DVD is limited to providing 720x480 (480p) resolution – which is still good but inferior to the Full HD 1920x1080p offered by Blu-ray. If you want to watch HD video quality on your HD capable TV, then you must buy a Blu-ray player.

What is Surge Protection?

Surge Protectors are a conduit between the power-point in your wall and your vulnerable electronic equipment. Surge protection is a high-strength barrier against damaging power spikes and surges. It will let only a safe-amount of electricity through.

It often comes with multiple power sockets, so you can plug a few appliances at the one time - all sourcing power from the one power-point, albeit filtered through the surge protector.

You will also find surge protectors, which incorporate protection for Co-ax, Pay TV aerial, data protection for modem, broadband and phone-line connections.

What is a power surge?

A power surge is a sudden increase of voltage above the normal flow of electricity. When the increase lasts three nanoseconds (billionths of a second) or more, it's called a surge. When it last for one or two nanoseconds, it's called a spike. Power surges can be caused by lighting strikes and the use of high-powered electrical devices that require sudden surges of electricity.

Please note: Nothing man-made will prevent a direct lightning strike from causing damage. The closer you are to a lightning strike, the more at risk you are. A surge protector will at least help minimize the damage caused.

The best prevention for damage during a storm is to unplug your appliances.

Characteristics to look for in a Surge Protector

  • Joules Rating of the Surge Protector

This is a prime indicator of how effective the Surge Protector will be against Spikes and Surges.

A typical surge protector is only able to absorb a finite amount of excess energy via its Metal Oxide Varistors(MOVs) - which dissipate this excess as heat.

The overall Joules rating is determined by the quality and quantity of MOVs. A good rule of thumb is that the higher the rating, the better the Surge Protector should be at dealing with spike and surge energy - and the longer the life-span potentially of the Surge Protector.

  • Clamping Voltage of the Surge Protector

The clamping voltage is the maximum voltage allowed to pass by the surge protector through to the connected devices. In the event of a power surge, the Surge Protector (via its MOVs) clamps the voltage by redirecting it until the surge voltage drops sufficiently.

Lower is generally preferred. Clamping voltages are commonly between 300 and 500V. If you get any higher than this, you'll run the risk of damaging power levels being let through.

  • Speed the Surge Protector reacts

Surge protectors won't act instantaneously - there's a slight lag. But the better protectors will act quickly. The very best surge protectors take less than one nanosecond.

What happens when the Surge Protector wears out?

Since all MOVs will inevitably fail after repeated surges, it's important to know what your Surge Protector will do once it wears out like this.

Look for surge protectors, which have an Indicator Light that will tell you if the surge protectors are still working effectively.

Also look for surge protectors with a built-in failsafe that will prevent the board working as a power board if the surge protection fails. This will prevent any damaging power going through to connected appliances.

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.