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LCD TV Buyers Guide - Find The Best TV For You

If you are looking for the best LCD TV, this buyers guide is a great place to start.

Before looking at various TV reviews, it's always a good idea to get a general understanding of the technology first. We can make a better LCD TV comparison when we see the bigger picture.

So if you are looking for the best flat screen HDTV, let's have a look at why you should consider an LCD.

Please note: this article refers to the older style LCD televisions which have a CCFL backlight. This type of television has now been discontinued by the major manufacturers. This page is still useful for background information on these old-style TVs, but if you are looking to buy a new television then it will be better to go to our guide to LED televisions.

LCD TV with speakers on blue background

How does an LCD TV work?

In very simple terms, an LCD screen has pixels filled with liquid crystal - and a backlight.

The backlight illuminates the pixels, and each pixel can be controlled individually to produce different colours.

The pixels are controlled by using a variable electrical current (to control the intensity of the light) and a matrix of colour filters (to create the colours).

The picture you see on the screen is formed by all those tiny pixels changing their colours very quickly - and if you go very close to the screen you can see each individual pixel.

The fact that an LCD screen uses a backlight is the main difference between an LCD TV and a plasma screen (which doesn't use a backlight).

It is important to understand that the 'new' LED TVs are essentially just LCD TVs with a different backlight.

The traditional LCD TV uses a CCFL backlight, whereas an LED TV uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to create the light.

Therefore there is a big crossover in the technology of LED and traditional LCD TVs, and you could easily place them in the same category as each other. Some TVs which are being sold as LCD TVs will actually have LED backlights, it just depends on the manufacturer as to what they are called.

For more information on LED TVs, go here to the LED TV guide.

LG 42LK450 LCD TVLG 42" 42LK450 LCD TV

LCD TV sales

If you want to buy an LCD TV, you'll certainly be in good company.

The sales of this type of flat screen HD TV around the world are far greater than that of plasma TVs.

Now, that is largely due to the fact that LCD TVs are available at smaller sizes than plasma screens (do you know, not everybody wants a HUGE flat panel screen in their home - don't understand it myself but there you go!).

However, it used to be the case that for a home cinema setup with a large flat panel TV you would always go for a plasma screen. That is not necessarily the case these days as the technology of LCD screens has come a long way and has definitely closed the gap.

So, if you want a small TV for the kitchen, or a huge monster in the lounge, an LCD can offer you both options.

Sizes range from around 15 inches to well over 60 inches - so whatever size screen you want for your room, they can fit the bill.

An LCD TV is going to be thin, light and easy to install in your room. The great thing about a flat panel screen is it can be placed in your room without the need to design all the other furniture around it.

Want it out of the way on the wall? No problem.

Want to put it on that table you were given by your grandmother 30 years ago? No problem.

An LCD TV is available at any size that suits your room and can be placed (almost) anywhere.

HDTV is FAB

You've probably heard about HDTV right? Well, on your new LCD panel you'll also be able to watch TV and movies in high-definition.

Your new TV should be at least HD ready (I wouldn't buy a new TV today if it wasn't at least HD ready - you probably won't find one anyway).

You'll see the HD ready logo if it is.

Note!

To view something in high-definition, you'll also need a source of HD pictures like a Blu-ray player or a cable box that sends a high-definition signal. If you don't have a high-definition source yet then that's ok - you can also watch a non-HD source (sometimes known as SD or standard-definition). It just won't look as clear and sharp as an HD picture.

This means with an HD source you'll get a really sharp and life-like image on the screen.....and it really looks stunning.

One thing you will want to look out for is the native resolution of the screen.

If a screen is marked as just HD ready it will probably be a 720p resolution screen (1280 x 720).

If it is a 1080p flat screen TV (1920 x 1080) then it will normally be labelled as such - or marked as full HD - or both!

The way screens are labelled can vary quite a bit, so double-check the resolution if this is an important feature to you.

As a general rule a 1080p flat screen TV will show more detail than one with a resolution of 720p, although in reality there is a bit more to it than that - see what is the best screen size for my room? for more details.

Very simply, the further you are away from the screen the harder it is to tell the difference between a 1080p TV and a 720p screen. Or to put it another way, the closer you sit to the screen in your room, the more benefit you'll get from a 1080p screen.

By the way, if you're wondering if HDTV is worth it......it is. Simple as that.

With or without an HD source, a new LCD panel will give you a bright and vibrant image. The colours will probably jump out at you compared to your old CRT TV.

All the technical information that is thrown your way when you are trying to decide which TV to buy can be mind-boggling. However, be careful here as there are plenty of people trying to sell you the latest and greatest models who don't really understand it themselves.

Follow the links below if you need to understand more about TV resolution, the right screen size for your room and the difference between 1080p, 1080i and 720p.

LCD TV connections

Your new LCD TV will have many of the standard audio and video connections that are commonly found on all modern TVs these days.

Therefore, for the video (picture) you will find a combination of the following: HDMI connector, component video, S-Video connectors, SCART (mainly in Europe), or composite video (follow the links for more detailed information).

There will also be an aerial/antenna connection if you need to use an external aerial to receive analog or digital TV transmissions. It is good to consider if you need a TV with an internal analog or digital tuner, as you may be able to buy a cheaper model if you don't need this - although many will have these as standard.

You may also find a DVI or VGA port for connecting your computer - or you may be able to use a spare HDMI port depending on the output connections your computer has.

Many modern TVs will also have ethernet (wired) or wireless connectivity to access your home network and internet connection. Access to an internet connection will allow you to stream video content from online, and some TVs may be 'DLNA Certified' for playing video and audio files from your home network.

Common TV Connections Common LCD TV Connections

For audio connections, you should find red and white stereo analog inputs (for a stereo RCA plug cable), and maybe digital audio connections such as optical digital audio or coaxial digital audio. The HDMI and SCART connections (if you have them) are slightly different, these are designed to transport the audio signals as well as the video - so these may be all you need to receive the audio signals from your devices.

Some TVs will provide audio outputs for connecting to a home cinema surround sound system, although that is less common. However, this is important to have if you need to send the audio from the internal tuner in your TV to a surround sound setup.

For more information on wiring your system, check out the guide to home theater wiring.

The main thing to consider is; what connections do you need?

If you are planning to use a surround sound receiver to connect all your devices as part of a home cinema system, then you will probably need less input connections on the TV as you will connect most of the devices to the receiver instead. In this case you will need to send just one or two cables to the TV for the picture.

Follow this link for more information on how to set up surround sound.

LCD TV Buying Guide Tip!

One very important thing to check before you buy a new TV, is the type of connections you need on the back (or front) - and how many.

The model of TV you are interested in may only have one or two HDMI connections - so is that enough? The number and type of connections can vary a great deal between different makes and models.

Might you need to connect another device by composite instead - or component?

Do you have a games console? How does this connect to a TV?

Some LCD screens will have a VGA connection for your PC - some won't. Will you want to connect your PC to the TV?

Think about the devices you want to connect and which connections are required on your new TV. Check this before you buy!

Who makes the best LCD TV?

It can be difficult to choose the best LCD TV as there are a huge number of different LCDs on the market.

With the large number of manufacturers around it can be hard to know where to start - and as with all these things, it is hard to exactly determine right model for you.

My advice would be to stick to the major names when looking for the best model.

The build quality of cheap LCD TVs can sometimes be sub-standard, and there are various LCD TV problems which can be more apparent if you just look for the cheapest LCD TV.

The main brands of LCD TV are:

  • LG
  • Philips
  • Sharp
  • Toshiba
  • Panasonic
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Vizio

If you are only buying a small TV for the kitchen or bedroom, then maybe the brand isn't so important, but for the best quality of picture in a larger screen size I would be looking at the bigger brand names.

Buying guide - what to look for

The main things to think about are:

  • What screen size is best for your rooms TV viewing distance?
  • The quality of the HD picture
  • The quality of the SD picture (if you will be watching an SD source)
  • What TV resolution do you need?
  • Enough input connections for your equipment? (HDMI, component etc.)
  • The quality of the on-board sound (unless you use a separate sound system)

LCD TV Buyers Guide Summary

So as you can see from our LCD TV buyers guide, there is much to consider if you want to find the best LCD TV.

You must think about size, connectivity, installation and cost - it's not just about picture quality - and there's certainly more to think about than just plasma vs LCD.

The good news is that the price and quality of LCD flat screen TVs is getting better all the time, and they are currently great value compared to LED and plasma TVs. There are many good reasons to buy an LCD television - go to the LCD TV buying guide for more detailed information on this.

A modern LCD flat screen HD TV can be a good choice if you are looking for a small 19 inch TV, or a huge 65 inch LCD TV - there will always be something to fit into any home.

Product Images Sourced From Amazon.com


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