HDTV is special digital television with an awesome picture. HDTV flat panel televisions are popping up everywhere. HDTV pictures are crystal clear because they are broadcast in 720p. The less expensive flat panel televisions support this image resolution. The best flat panels support the higher 1080p resolution used by the new Blu-ray DVD players. Standard television is broadcast in 480i and old DVD players use 480p.
Common HDTV Flat panel resolutions are 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. The “p” means that every line is scanned while the “i” stands for interlacing or scanning every other line. Progressive scanning (p) has fast response to image changes and a better picture. So the best picture is the highest “p” number 1080p provided by the HDTV and Blu-ray DVD players. Broadcast TV is only 720p supported by all flat panels today. The 1080p is needed if you are using a Blu-ray or HDTV DVD player today. However, in a few years new technology will drive the image resolutions higher.
HDTV broadcast channels are available from Comcast Cable, Verizon FIOS, and Direct TV (Satellite). These require a Set Top Box (STB – a new acronym to learn – I don’t make this stuff up. I just report it) with an HDMI interface to connect into the flat panel TV. The HDMI interface is one designed especially for HDTV. It carries both the video and audio signals in a single connection. No more yellow connector for video and red and white connectors for audio because one connector does it all. Audio signals are Audio Coding 3 (AC3) or 5.1 surround sound for 4 surrounding speakers and 1 bass sub-woofer. The sub-woofer makes a room shake. The HDMI interface is a small “D” shaped connector.
The flat panel HDTVs cost around $1,000 for the lower resolution 720p panels. The very latest panels are now 65” plasma, LCD or, DLP panels. The latest 65” Panasonic plasma panel with 1920 by 1080p resolution costs from $3,800 to $9,000. A 65” Sharp LCD panel with 1920 by 1080p can range from $4,300 to $8,000. In contrast a Toshiba 65” DLP projection panel prices range from $1,400 to $1,900, the Mitsubishi 65” 1920 by 1080p resolution DLP runs $2,400 and the 72” Samsung 1920 by 1080p resolution DPL can set you back about $5,000. It seems from this that the cheapest large screen technology is DLP today. LCD and DLP TVs require periodic $200 to $500 lamp replacement.
There are three established technologies and one emerging technology for flat panel HDTVs. The flat panel televisions today use plasma, LCD or, DLP technologies. Some industry comparisons rate the Plasma technology the best picture technology. However, your subjective judgment on picture quality means more than any magazine or expert review. The best looking picture to you is the best for you.
One new technology OLED TV (organic light emitting diode) promises to be the best technology of all. OLED TV color is produced using organic carbon-based compounds, which emit red, green and blue lights when stimulated by an electric current. Similar to plasma TVs the OLED panels have lots of Light Emitting Diode like cells that form the image. Unlike Plasma panels the OLED panels are extremely thin and flexible. The first Sony XEL-1 OLED 11” TV will set you back $2,400.
My introduction to HDTV started with a $3,000 Sony LCD HDTV projection panel. It required two $180 lamp changes over the two years that I used it. In the end it started getting blue spots which made me blue, very blue. I gave it to my nephew and he is bluer still. When this lamp dies, it gets trashed. It was replaced with two 50” Panasonic plasma TVs which give a much better (no blue dots) picture. The two units combined cost little more than the Sony. They have performed very well over the last year. However, technology marches on so in about three more years I can expect to replace them with a new and bigger OLED HDTV. There is no rest for a nerd.
Link to HDTV "Update!"
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