LED TV Guide - An Introduction to LED TVs
The LED TV is the new kid on the block.
It's the fresh new technology that everyone is getting very excited about, and is the new 'must have' of the TV world.
Don't you just love the sleek looks and the modern styling? LED displays certainly look fantastic on the wall. Isn't it great that there is a brand new technology to compete with the old favourites, LCD and plasma TVs?
But wait! Hold on just one second....
Just before you dash out and buy an LED screen, there's a bit more to this technology than meets the eye.
Would you be surprised to know that LED TVs may not be quite as revolutionary as you may believe? That's not to say they're not worth considering, but understanding LED screens can be important before you buy.
Let's take a look at the details, and all will be revealed.
What Is an LED TV?
Here's a good one for you: when is an LCD TV not an LCD TV?
Answer: when it's called an LED TV.
Ok, not the funniest joke on the internet, but one that makes an important point - an LED television is an LCD TV.
An LCD TV has its name because it uses a liquid crystal display - and an 'LED' television uses a liquid crystal display!
We should really say LED TVs are part of the LCD TV family.
A traditional LCD television has a screen made with small pixels filled with liquid crystal - and it also has a backlight in the form of a fluorescent lamp (CCFL) which is used to create the picture.
LED televisions are different because they use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to produce the light from behind the screen - however, it still has the same liquid crystal screen as any other LCD TV.
Put simply, it is an LCD TV with an LED backlight.
The use of LEDs to create the backlight can result in a number of advantages over the CCFL backlight - such as a better contrast ratio, lower power consumption and better colour reproduction.
There are generally two main designs that are used when building TVs with LED backlights:
These differences in design can be important because they have different advantages and disadvantages, and it is useful for you to understand the difference before you buy one of these screens.
For more information on the differences between edge-lit and backlit LED screens, go to the article about understanding the LED HDTV.
LED or LCD TV?
This is where we come to the confusing part.
It is important to be clear that only some manufacturers currently use the term 'LED TV'.
At the time of writing, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Vizio (amongst others) use this term when advertising their TV models that have LCD screens with LED backlights.
However, until recently Sony used the term LCD TV for all their TV models with LCD screens - no matter which type of backlight they use - CCFL or LED.
Also, some manufacturers appear to use different terms in different parts of the world.
This does appear to be slowly changing, and most manufacturers are gradually introducing the the term 'LED' as part of their product descriptions.
However, the main result of this is that many people are confused by what they are buying - or don't understand exactly what LED televisions are - which is a shame as LED TVs have a lot going for them.
So just be clear when you are researching this area, an LED television is not some new technology that is completely different to the LCD TVs you are used to. It is essentially an upgrade to existing LCD technology in an attempt to improve the performance and size of the LCD screen - and this technology has actually been around for a couple of years.
You may already own an 'LED TV' if you have bought a new LCD flat screen in the last year or two, it's just that your manufacturer called it an LCD TV!
Flat Screens and Screen Sizes
The LED television has the same benefits of flat screen technology as the traditional LCD and plasma TV.
They are slim, light TVs that you can easily sit on a piece of furniture - or hang on the wall to give yourself more space in your home.
In fact, edge-lit LEDs take the flat panel television to the next stage by being even thinner than ever - and they really do look cool!
Whilst plasma and LCD TVs have generally ranged from 2 to 8 inches thick, the design of an edge-lit TV enables it to be thinner than 2 inches.
For instance, the Samsung UN46C9000 46 inch 1080p LED HDTV is just 1.3 inches thick.
A thin TV not only looks great, but it could make the TV easier to install in your room.
Don't underestimate how tricky it can be to install a heavy flat screen TV on your wall - and so these thinner and lighter models can save you a problem - and possibly the cost of paying a professional installer to install the TV for you.
The screen sizes of LED TVs start at around 22 inches, similar to the smaller sizes of standard LCD screens - and now go to very large screen sizes of 60 and 65 inches - which compare with the biggest plasma TVs.
You should find most of the standard video and audio connections that are common on all modern TVs these days.
Therefore you can expect to find HDMI, component, S-Video, SCART (mainly Europe) or composite connections for the video (picture) - plus an antenna (aerial) connection if you need an antenna to receive analog or digital TV transmissions.
You may want to consider if you actually 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 you may find these as standard on many models.
Go the guide to home theater connections if you want more detailed information on these connection types.
Common LED TV Connections
Many newer models will also have ethernet (wired) or wireless connectivity to access your internet connection and/or home network. Access to an internet connection will allow you to stream video content from online - while some TVs may be 'DLNA Certified' for playing video and audio files from your home network.
For audio inputs, you may have stereo analog connections (red and white RCA), or possibly digital audio connections such as optical or coaxial. If there are HDMI and SCART connections, then these are designed to transport audio signals as well as the video - so you may just use these for the audio signals from your devices.
Some TVs will offer audio outputs for connecting to home theater surround sound systems, although that is less common. However, this may be something that you need if you will be wanting to send the audio from the TVs internal tuner to your surround sound system.
The really important thing to think about is what connections you actually need.
If you are using an AV receiver to connect all your devices as part of a home theater system, then you generally need less connections on the TV as the receiver will take most of the inputs - and you will just send one (maybe two) cables to the TV for the picture.
Go here for more information on AV receivers.
The Cost of LED TVs
You will find that LED televisions are currently more expensive than their LCD (CCFL) counterparts across all screen sizes.
Whilst standard LCDs are an established technology that has been around for many years, the cost of developing and producing the newer LED screens makes them a more expensive option - and they are also being sold as the next 'new thing', which usually puts a bit on the price.
However, there are a number of benefits to the new LED models, so you must decide if they are worth paying the extra money.
Follow the link for details of the advantages of LED television technology.
An important point is to check that a particular model has the features you need - and that you don't end up paying for things you don't want. Most manufacturers have will have several different versions of the same model of TV - but at different prices.
For example, make sure if the TV comes with a built-in TV tuner. A cheaper model may not have one of these, and if you already have a separate tuner or cable box, then you may not need one built-in.
Who Makes the Best LED TV?
As already discussed, it can be difficult to identify the companies that make LED TVs - as they don't all use the term 'LED'!
However, if you are looking to buy one of these screens, then you should be checking out the following manufacturers:
Buying Guide - What To Look For
The main things to think about are:
LED TV Guide Summary
LED TVs are the next development in LCD technology.
The use of LED lights at the back of the screen brings a number of benefits over the traditional LCD TV with a CCFL backlight - such as a better colour accuracy, better contrast and thinner screens.
However, this new technology comes at an extra cost, so you have to decide if it worth paying the extra money for the improvements.
For some, the advances in picture quality and thickness are obvious and worth the extra investment - for others, there will be little reason to spend more money while existing technologies like LCD and plasma can still create a superb television.
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