Buying guide: TVs
- — 29 September, 2010 10:10
Full HD 1080p
The best quality image available on televisions today is Full HD 1080p, where screens display 1080 lines of horizontal resolution progressively. They offer incredibly sharp and detailed pictures, and are the best choice for watching any kind of television content. Blu-ray movies and games consoles like the Sony PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 have a native resolution of 1080p, meaning they look best when displayed on these screens. You can still purchase televisions that do not operate at the Full HD 1080p resolution, but these sets will be able to display significantly less detail than a Full HD television.
Motion enhancement on LCD and LED televisions allows them to smoothly display fast-moving video like sports footage. Many new high-definition TVs have a 100Hz mode of some kind and some have even notched it up to 200Hz, which means the image will refresh many more times per second than on an older screen. The theory is that this helps smooth out motion, because the more frames involved the less jerky it will look. Some manufacturers have done this very well while others often wind up introducing more problems than they fix, so be careful and do your homework. On the plus side you can pretty much always turn these modes off if needed. Note that 400Hz panels will soon be introduced into the TV market, and they should deliver even smoother video reproduction.
Plasma televisions do not require a motion enhancement mode because they are naturally able to refresh faster than LCD and LED panels.
IPTV and Internet Access
Some televisions are available with wired or wireless network access, just like a PC or notebook computer. When connected to your home network (which is connected to the Internet), they can access multimedia services via the Internet like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Weather and stock information are also common inclusions. Newer televisions can also support video calls via Skype when an optional compatible webcam is purchased. Higher-end televisions often have the ability to install additional programs, just like a PC or laptop.
Several major television brands have teamed up with Australian media companies to offer video-on-demand services that are directly accessible via the Internet on newer televisions. Depending on the manufacturer, services such as BigPond Movies and Yahoo!7's Plus7 catch-up television are available from the TV without any external boxes required. Many televisions also have access to free libraries of video-on-demand content on a wide range of topics such as cooking or sports.
Televisions that support DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) are able to connect to your home network to access files from your PC, laptop and even your mobile phone. Using either a wireless or a wired Ethernet network to connect to your TV, DLNA technology allows you to watch movies, play music or browse slideshows saved on your computer, for example. If you've got a lot of music or holiday photos on your computer, this is an easy way to display them on your TV for everyone to enjoy.
DLNA is usually found on televisions that are at the more expensive price range, and generally these TVs will also offer IPTV and Internet features.
3D television is a big step forward in TV technology, and it brings the 3D cinema experience into your lounge room. 3D TVs are top-of-the-line LED and plasma televisions which, as well as offering great picture quality for standard television and movie viewing, can also create a 3D effect that adds depth to images when using specialised 'active shutter' 3D glasses.