What should I look for in a new HDTV?

Episode 960 (58:10)

Eric from Los Angeles, CA

Eric's TV recently died and he's in the market for a new one. He's got a house that does have bright ambient light and would cause glare. Leo says that LCD is much better for rooms with that kind of lighting.

First of all, he should know that he cannot judge a TV on any showroom floor. They've set these TVs to a mode that is very bright and will appeal to people, but it's not how he'd want to watch it at home.

Don't be fooled by LED - LEDs are LCDs and they're the current state of the art. Backlit LEDs with local area dimming is a feature he'll want to look for because they give deeper colors.

One negative about LCD is the response time. In older CRT televisions, and even newer plasmas, the response time is effectively 0. In LCDs, it's between 4 and 9 milliseconds. The effect of that is action being slightly blurred. They've tried to improve this by increasing the TV refresh rate. Refresh rates are normally 60hz, but they'll double it to 120 or even 240hz. The problem is, there's no more information than there was with 60hz, so they'll interpolate (make up) the frames in between. In Leo's opinion, this gives the video a "plastic" look, so he turns that off anyway.

As far as size is concerned, he'll want a bigger TV than he probably thinks. The size of his room and how far back he'll be sitting will help determine the size, but he'll probably want to go no smaller than 42". If he's 7-8ft away, he should ideally get a 55". Sitting back a little farther he might want to get 65".

Should he get expensive cables? Leo says no. Digital is digital. Go to MonoPrice.com and he can get them for cheap. They'll be just as good, so he shouldn't fall for the upsell.

Brand names to look for include:

  • Sharp
  • Samsung.
  • Vizio
  • If he's on a budget, this is a good second-tier brand that would probably give him the most bang for his buck.