HDTV TECH

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Aug 11, 2011 0 comments

Buying a new TV ain't what it used to be—there are a lot more choices and features to think about than yesteryear, when the only decision you needed to make was screen size. Among the most common questions I'm asked these days is, "Should I get an LCD or plasma flat-panel TV?" If you want the quick answer, jump to the end of this article. But if you want to understand the answer, read on.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 11, 2011 2 comments
It’s a given that most readers of Home Theater are that guy—the one friends and family call when they need a new HDTV. But it doesn’t stop there. Because after your 82-year-old grandmother finally tosses out that old Sylvania console and buys a 52-inch LCD on your expert recommendation, you still have to help with the picture settings. We can’t have nana blowing out her sensitive retinas on the factory torch mode, now can we? Oh, what those eyes have seen...
Posted: Nov 15, 2010 0 comments
It’s getting better all the time.

When we wrote this feature for last year’s HDTV Buyer’s Guide issue, the flat-panel HDTV market was much simpler. 3D was nowhere in sight, and much of our analysis boiled down to the pros and cons of LCD and plasma technology. This year, 3D is just one of the newer wrinkles in the market. The number of plasmas in the market isn’t what it was just a few years ago, but plasma is not only hanging on, the best plasmas still stake a legitimate claim to being the best flat panels available. With LCDs, manufacturers are aggressively using the backlighting techniques to market the sets. In fact, LCDs are getting more and more sophisticated and offering serious potential value. There’s a lot to learn, so let’s get going.

John Sciacca Posted: Sep 10, 2010 0 comments

My dad called me the other day. He had just rented Avatar and he wanted to know if I had seen it and if the version I watched was in 3D and why his wasn't. A client sent me an e-mail asking whether he could use a new 3D TV to watch regular, non-3D programming.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 14, 2009 0 comments
How does color accuracy measure up?

There’s more that goes into making a good display than accurate color, but it’s certainly one of the biggies. Color in a video display may seem like a relatively simple subject, but it’s not. In this Gear Works, I’ll outline the two most important factors in assessing and measuring the color accuracy of the HDTVs we review—color tracking and color gamut. I’ll also show you how we present this in the HT Labs Measures graphics that accompany our reviews. This article will shed some light on what these important measurements tell us about the color accuracy of the displays we test here at Home Theater.

Joshua Zyber Posted: Feb 09, 2009 0 comments
In movies, one size never fits all.

By now, most home theater fans have undoubtedly grown used to seeing letterbox bars on many movies they watch. In today’s high-definition era, any content with an aspect ratio that’s greater than a 16:9 (a.k.a. 1.78:1) HDTV screen must be presented with black bars on the top and bottom of the frame. Blu-ray viewers have many examples of this. Approximately half of all modern theatrical films are photographed in the scope aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Iron Man, Tropic Thunder, and Wall-E fall into that category. Scope photography is sometimes referred to as 2.35:1 for reasons that are too complicated to explain in detail here. Just know that 2.40:1 is technically correct, although many people in the industry continue to use the term 2.35:1 interchangeably. At the other extreme, material narrower than 16:9 (classics like Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood are 1.37:1) will have pillarbox bars on the sides. In the middle, movies composed for 1.85:1 (such as the The Sixth Sense, Hellboy, or Knocked Up) nearly fill an HDTV.

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Peter Putman Posted: Feb 02, 2009 0 comments
How time flies. It seems like we’ve been talking about the transition to digital terrestrial television broadcasting forever—waiting for stations to light up the transmitters, watching as more and more high-definition programming appeared on our TV screens, and shopping for a new flat-screen HDTV for our family rooms.
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Gary Merson Posted: Mar 26, 2008 0 comments
The rest of the 07 crop.

In the November 2007 issue, I tested 74 HDTVs for their ability to process 1080i signals, the highest resolution standard found on most of the broadcast and cable networks. A number of the remaining HDTVs to be introduced in 2007 arrived too late for our November issue. We decided to follow up with some more displays. Due to space constraints, this article will refer to previous articles more than we normally do. On the bright side, all the articles mentioned (including the November 2007 test) are available on this site.

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Mike Kahn Posted: Feb 26, 2008 Published: Jan 26, 2008 0 comments
Your tax dollars at work.

Nestled deep within the corridors of the sprawling NIST (the National Institute of Standards) campus lives the Flat Panel Display Lab. This special facility is dedicated to the development and implementation of metrology, or the measuring methodology, for flat-panel displays. Founded in 1992 and located in Boulder, Colorado, the lab's scientists have created a comprehensive and robust set of measurement methods for accurately evaluating the quality and accuracy of displays.

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Feb 26, 2008 Published: Jan 26, 2008 0 comments
The greatest thing to happen to LCD, ever.

The coolest demo I saw at CEDIA 2007 was a demo I saw at CEDIA 2006. The original demo was at the Planar suite. Dolby now owns the company that was working with Planar, BrightSide Technologies, and the technology shown in these demos has a name—Dolby Vision. The short version is this: Using LEDs, you can dim specific areas of the backlight to go along with what is happening with the video. In other words, you can dim certain areas of the screen, while keeping other areas bright. In the simplest form, picture a split screen with black on one side and white on the other. Local dimming would allow the LEDs on the black side to be off and the LEDs on the white side to be lit. The result is a fantastic, legitimate contrast ratio, along with possible energy savings and a host of other potential benefits. But first, we have to understand the problem before we can talk about this solution.

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Gary Merson Posted: Nov 15, 2007 0 comments
The 2007 HDTVs

This time last year, we tested 61 2006 HDTVs to learn how they process all the detail contained within 1080i, the most common high-definition broadcast format. It's the highest resolution format the majority of HD broadcasters and cable channels use, including CBS, NBC, CW, HBO, and Showtime. The results of our 2006 tests were quite disappointing; less than half of the HDTVs were able to properly process the interlaced broadcast signal to the TV's native, progressive resolution. This year, we have expanded our testing to include 74 HDTVs that range from 19 to 67 inches. We have added a new test for 1080p displays to judge their resolution with motion as compared to their stationary resolution. This test illustrates how all HDTVs lower the amount of detail you can see when the camera is panning or where there is action in a scene, such as on a football field. More on this later.

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Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Nov 11, 2007 0 comments
How to set up your TV to look its best.
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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Aug 13, 2007 Published: Jul 13, 2007 0 comments
The bad, the ugly, and the 120 hertz.

I have long been a complainer about motion blur with LCDs. It drives me crazy. I have gotten a lot of flack over the years for this, which I really couldn't care less about. (You don't see me making fun of your issues, do you?) I would just like to point this out: Why, if I weren't the only one who hated motion blur with LCDs, would nearly every LCD manufacturer come to market with 120-hertz LCD panels that claim to eliminate motion blur (a problem that they, surprisingly, haven't mentioned before)? Before I rub it in and say, "I told you so," let's look at what causes motion blur, why it may or may not be a big deal, and how a 120-Hz refresh rate can help solve the problem for LCDs.

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Aug 13, 2007 Published: Jul 13, 2007 0 comments
This year's TVs are incorporating ease-of-use features.

While I love the amazing picture on my flat-screen HDTV, there are times when I find myself nostalgic for the days when all you had to do to watch TV was pull on a power button, turn the channel dial, and adjust the rabbit ears. It's bad enough that we home theater enthusiasts struggle to decipher menus and muck about a 75-button remote control, but it's our loved ones who curse us when they can't figure out how to use the TV. Manufacturers and retailers have been talking about simplicity in home theater for the past few years. Well, 2007 is the year that easier menus, setup, and remotes have been incorporated into some HDTVs. Some companies have been quietly working toward ease of use; others, like Philips, have made the pursuit a brand tag line: "sense and simplicity." Perhaps you can finally relinquish your remote to your nervous spouse.

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Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Jul 16, 2007 Published: Jun 16, 2007 0 comments
Several new technologies are poised to break the ties that bind.

Imagine being able to place that brand-new flat-panel HDTV anywhere in your living room without having to figure out how to hide the video cable that tethers it to your A/V receiver, DVD player, or set-top box. You won't have to imagine it much longer as wireless HD transmission moves from the drawing board to the retail shelves. As always seems to be the case in this industry, we'll go from having virtually no options to having multiple technologies competing for the attention of manufacturers and consumers alike.

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