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How To Search for a Flat Screen TV

At first as I thought about purchasing a flat screen TV, I sidled up to my computer and started researching. Then I realized that is just idiotic. Phones? Sure. CDs, books? Of course. Wacky T-shirts with LOL cats? By the dozen. But, for a TV, you really need to see what they can do. So, I headed out to Best Buy and started checking out the choices. Here is what I learned.

Size Matters. I started my quest by looking at the affordable flat screens and realized that I felt like I was back at home, looking at my computer monitor. If I wanted to watch my computer monitor darn it, I would watch my computer monitor. So, I started to ignore all of the side aisles and just went to the back wall where all the monsters were hung. (That’s what she said.) Now that’s what a TV should look like.

Redneck Flat Screen TV

Redneck Flat Screen TV

That’s Three Months Rent. Of course, when I look at the really big and fantastic televisions, after the mesmerizing effect wears off, in a state of dream-like bliss I glance down at the price. The bliss quickly fades, I shake my head and realize that television, after tax and an appropriate stand, would cost more than three month’s rent. Well, I think to myself, it will last much longer than three month’s rent, so I got that going for me. However, there has to be a happy medium.

Plasma < LCD < LED. After wandering around, I began to figure out that I didn’t like the plasma screens that much. (I think this goes to the fact that LCD and LED have improved the quality of their black levels – which when researching was generally a vote against LCD and LED.) Secretly I hoped that the most expensive ones were the plasma screens, but of course not. Everyone has good eyesight. Stupid performance enhancing glasses. Once I realized that I liked LED screens the best, I realized that those were the most expensive ones. The next step was to figure out why I liked the ones I did.

Vertical Resolution. All the televisions I looked at were 1080p, which is now the standard for HD televisions. I’m not sure if there are non-1080p TVs out there now, but from what I read, I wouldn’t go after them, even though most HD broadcasts are in 1080i or 720p due to bandwidth requirements. If you want to watch a blu-ray disc, they are in 1080p. (1,080 is the number of vertical resolution lines, more is better, and ‘p’ is for progressive scan, while ‘i’ stands for interlaced scan.)

Screen Refresh Rate. This is the number of times the screen is reconstructed every second and measured in hertz. Again, more is better as the number of times the screen can refresh, the better it will look. From what I saw, it seemed like jumping from 60 Hz to 120 Hz was about $200, but looked to be worth it from watching. The 240 Hz seemed to be a lot more expensive than needed at this time.

Contrast Ratio. This is a measure of the difference between the brightest white and the darkest black. Static is the maximum difference that can occur on the same image, dynamic is the maximum difference that can occur between different images at different times being shown. Static is the smaller number, dynamic is larger and again, bigger is better for both.

Other Bells and Whistles. I know I should care about whether or not my TV connects to the internet and how many HDMI ports are there, but to me those are things that would be the tenth tie-breakers on my list of requirements. The image is king. Of course, I did get my eco boost by finding out that LCD and LED TVs use much less power. Save the earth by watching TV, yes I can.

Happy Medium. In the end, I found two LED TVs that were just right. There was a 46” Samsung for about $1,650 and a 40” Sony for $1,200. At this point, I have to decide between competing brands (and quality connotations), size and the difference in price, which is the easy part now that the research is done.

Now, I wish you good luck in going to the store and finding the TV that works the best for you.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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