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LCD TV Problems
- The Downside Of The Cheapest LCD TVs

While LCD screens are being bought by the truck load around the world, that doesn't mean there aren't any issues with an LCD TV. Problems can be found, especially with the cheapest LCD TVs.

It is too easy to think that the technology of LCDs must be perfect, as so many people are buying them.

We have already taken an overview of this technology in the our LCD TV buyers guide introduction, but here we will look at reasons why this type of TV may not suit you.

1. Colour reproduction

The way LCD televisions reproduce colour on screen is completely different to plasma televisions.

A plasma TV can reproduce over 16 million different colours and has always had a good reputation for picture quality.

LCD TVs showing red, green and blue colour spectrum

However, one area where LCDs have traditionally struggled has been in accurately reproducing colours - especially for moving images. These screens have always been better at reproducing static images, but if the image is moving then the accuracy of the colour spectrum can be compromised.

The best screens use various forms of image processing to overcome this problem, but this can lead to the image appearing unnatural and 'digital'.

2. Contrast ratio

One big difference between an LCD TV and a plasma TV is the use of a backlight - and this backlight can cause problems.

Without going too far into the technical details, LCDs produce an image by using a light behind the screen to illuminate the pixels. This can make it difficult to accurately reproduce dark images.

Therefore, an LCD image can struggle to reproduce black levels - especially when compared to a plasma TV. One very important factor when trying to get a life-like image is the contrast ratio - and deep blacks together with bright whites are crucial to how natural an image looks.

This won't be so obvious if you mainly watch the TV in rooms with plenty of ambient light - but might be more noticeable with the lights down and a bowl of popcorn in your lap.

The backlight can also create a halo effect around a dark image. Unless the TV is very well made, the light from behind the screen can be seen spilling out around the edges of the frame - and this can also be noticeable in low-light conditions when there are dark images on the screen.

These issues are especially true of less well-made and cheap LCD TVs - the best models are getting much better.

3. Motion blur

Another problem traditionally associated with LCDs is motion blur.

If there is a static image then these screens have always performed well - one reason why they are widely used as computer monitors.

However, with fast-moving images this technology can struggle. If you watch closely when there is sport or action movies on an LCD screen, you may be aware of a slight blurring around the edges of fast-moving objects.

This can be distracting once you are aware of it. Some people are more disturbed by this than others so check it out for yourself if you have a chance.

Typical LCD TV problem - football match showing motion blur

Manufacturers have targeted this area in recent years and have made improvements by lowering the response time of screens and increasing the refresh rate. The result has been to improve the issue of motion blur - but they are still playing catch-up with plasma technology in this area.

Anyway, this is something you can easily judge yourself by comparing some screens in shops.

Get them to put on some sport, like football for instance, and follow the path of the ball or the players as they move quickly while the camera pans across.

Are the edges sharp and well-defined?

4. Viewing angle

LCDs have always had problems when viewing from the side - or above/below the image.

Try moving around your laptop or PC monitor and you will see what I mean. See how the colours change and the image becomes less clear.

This has always been a problem for LCD TV manufacturers. You can't always be sat directly in front of your TV in your home - so it's not good if the picture looks poor if you are sat to one side (or on the floor!).

The introduction of different types of LCD panels has addressed this issue to some degree - and the best LCDs have improved - but not all models are equal!

You'll see that these days many manufacturers will quote viewing angles similar to that of a plasma TV. However, you may be able to see the image reasonably well, but is it the same brightness and contrast as if you were directly in front?

Check it out in a shop and see what you think.

Obviously depending on your room layout this may not be a concern for you anyway.

LCD TV Problems Summary

Hopefully this guide has shown you some things to look out for when you are looking to buy a new TV.

The quality of the best LCDs have improved dramatically in recent years, and the strengths of these televisions are discussed in the article on the benefits of LCD TVs.

However, they aren't perfect so weigh up the potential issues when deciding. Depending on your circumstances, some of these 'problems' might not affect you in your home anyway.


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