GE has announced the creation of General Displays & Technologies LLC (GDT), a new combined opportunity with Tatung Company, a display technology company. GDT will design and publish GE-branded HDTVs to combine custom internet programming and HDTV technology together. The first series of offerings will be available to consumers in Spring 2009, and prices and technical specs were not announced as of yet.
In addition to offering HDTVs, GDT will get together with NBC Universal to develop a unique platform that will deliver Internet and other digital content directly through the television.
Eventually the TV will allow customization and viewing of HD content from websites, and leverage the power of the internet along with the HDTV content so they marry together seamlessly. It’s about time, and it’s a sure bet that other companies will be searching for affiliations to do the same thing with their TV. A future with the internet and HDTV being a standard part of the package together is within sight, and a truly cool interactive paradise it will be.
Amazon.com is now selling a Mitsubishi 73-inch 1080p HDTV for $2,299 — 23 percent off the suggested list price. The DLP set, model WD-73736, has a five-star customer rating, 3 HDMI 1.3 inputs and is 3D-ready for both games and movies. It’s gotten strong reviews over most of the net. That’s just crazy size for the price.
The set, which weighs just 96 pounds, also has a built-in QAM cable TV tuner, delivers a picture in 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and it’s now in stock 9as of now anyway). It also has a customer rating of five stars out of five on the Amazon site.
Note: Amazon.com prices change regularly due to supply and demand, so it may or may not be there later. But the price is valid as of this posting.
See it here.
You thought plasma, LCD, OLED, DLP and CRT were all the choices you had in HDTV? Not quite. Mitsubishi is adding a new color to the palette, in the form of a high-def TV that uses all laser technology. Expect to pay a large premium, though, as always, for the increase in picture quality and planet-friendliness.
LaserVue HDTV from Mitsubishi is expected to release in the next few weeks, very much in time for the holiday rush on gadgets. The difference over other high-def sets is that it uses an engine powered by laser lights, instead of standard TV lighting technology. It sounds cool, as many new fangled ideas do, but expect to feel much lighter in the wallet to get in on the newest thing.
The LaserVue set will retail for $6,999, according to published inside info. Mitsubishi promises that it offers a sharper picture, more defined colors and greater power efficiency. It will use approximately one third of the power that a similar plasma HDTV would expend, and the new fangled device should be available in many chain and big-box stores very soon.
Buying an HDTV in the near future? Even if you’re planning to purchase it online, you should still go and see sets in the store in person. Only by checking out the types of content that you watch most–movies, sports events, standard-def shows, or video games–can you evaluate subtle differences in picture quality. Brands can differ widely to some eyes.
Here are some simple, time-tested tips on prepping for shopping and evaluating sets in the store.
1. Shop, Compare, Repeat: Get a handle on what the current prices are before shopping retail, be sure to check online pricing. Compare similar models and their prices with various stores. Sometimes great deals can be found if you look hard enough. Know what features you want, and what you can live without, and determine what screen size you want. Go first to specialty home theater shops that stock the sets you like, if you have some in your area. They tend to have quiet, dimly lit areas much like real living rooms, while the noisy showrooms at the big stores make comparisons difficult.
2. Check your video sources: If you don’t already have high-def video sources–an HD digital cable or satellite box, a DVR, Cable, Blu-Ray player–at least investigate them beforehand to determine the number and types of inputs and cables you’ll need. If you buy your HD gear first, an installer will be able to hook it all up to your new set and troubleshoot problems.
3. Bring test movies with you: They should be on both DVD and high-definition media (Blu-ray or HD DVD); rent if necessary. Last year’s remake of Casino Royale has plenty of fast action and night scenes for comparing smooth motion and black quality. Not a necessity, but this way you know what you’ll be getting at an ideal quality level.
4. Look at two sources: Ask to see both standard-def and high-def sources (including live broadcast TV) on the sets you like. If possible, watch the same input simultaneously on two models you’re considering. Make sure that the salesperson uses the same standard DVD player for all your tests, to eliminate quality differences in the players from your appraisals. The difference between HD and standard def TV signals on some sets may be quite jarring.
5. Tweak the settings: Ask the salesperson to set each TV to similar levels of color temperature (the optimum is 6500 Kelvin), brightness, and other picture variables, or play with them yourself. In store displays, TVs often have amped-up brightness and sharpness settings. Use movie, sports, and gaming presets (if available) as starting points for those content types. These often show off the clarity of a set very well. Check image quality when viewing from several distances, look for variations in picture quality at wide angles, smoothness in action scenes and video games (LCDs with fast response times and 120-Hz refresh rates should rival the smoother look of plasma sets), color accuracy, contrast, deep blacks, etc. Be informed and take notes.
6. Drive a bargain: Ask store salespeople to match online prices; many will gladly do so. Local delivery is better; large TV sets can easily be damaged in transit, and good luck getting a replacement from most discount outlets. Ask if the seller will sweeten the deal with free cables, mounting hardware, or professional installation. Some will do this. Also, check return policies, such as restocking fees. Don’t fall for extended warranties (and note that some credit cards double already-generous warranty periods from the manufacturer); most of these never get used and only line the merchant’s pocket.
One final reminder: Go and purchase the cables you’ll need before the set arrives, and shop for these for best prices too, ideally online. You don’t want to have to dash out to buy an overpriced cable just to enjoy your new HDTV.
These step should ensure you get the best quality HDTV for your hard-earned cash. An uninformed decision often ends up being a bad decision.
As anyone old enough to have used one of the earliest home computers can tell you, analog TV sets make lousy computer monitors — however digital HDTV sets make not just good but great monitors. Indeed, some HD and HD-Ready sets share the same hardware guts as computer monitors. Although you may be familiar with computer LCD monitors, you won’t find computer monitors in Plasma form, but Plasma TVs work well especially when playing fast moving video games with dark backgrounds.
You can at least tell yourself that your giant-screen TV purchase was a more productive investment than you initially thought by occasionally using it with your computer for digital-camera slideshows, VoIP conversations, gaming, watching digital-camcorder home movies and, perhaps most importantly for watching downloaded music and videos that reside on your computer.
One way to ensure that you make the most of your next television purchase is to get a set that’s equipped with Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), a networking technology supported by Philips, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Sharp, Sony, Thomson/RCA, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Intel along with many others. With this type of connectivity, you’ll be able to easily connect most of today’s digital devices to your television for added functionality.
If you happen to use Apple’s devices for computing then you’ll want to make use of the following instructions to get the most out of your big screen television with you Mac. To hook a Mac to a DTV, connect the devices using a VGA or DVI cable, depending on which input port your DTV offers. (Use DVI if you have both ports, since both are equally easy, but DVI is a more modern standard.) If necessary, you can buy an inexpensive adapter to help make the connection; for example, you might buy an adapter to convert an older Mac’s ADC port to output to DVI.
Although with digital televisions it’s not a one-way street because you can use your computer to watch television. As computers are increasingly becoming more of a TV-related device, websites like YouTube and MetaCafe are becoming ubiquitous as the default video portals, and movie download sites are taking the place of broadcast television. You can use a computer to receive video from a variety of sources including the Internet, cable, satellite as well as conventional over-the-air broadcasting.
Once the TV content is on your drive, you can watch it right on television screen — with a deluxe computer monitor, such as Apple’s Cinema Display series, you might not even need a separate TV — or you might transfer the video to a regular TV using a device such as an Apple TV or software such as Windows Media Center.
No matter what form of modern television viewing you’re partial to using you’ll be able to see a much clearer image and get ever more functionality with other electronics devices that make the new digital television standards even more useful than previously thought. With the quick and easy connectivity from today’s televisions we can get both informational and entertainment use from a single unobtrusive screen.
Any discussion of incorporating newer, sophisticated audio technologies into
DTVs has to first accept the common understanding that the audio experience within
most flat-panel TVs today is quite poor. To most consumers, flat-panel TVs often fail
(some miserably) in an attempt to deliver a quality audio experience at par with the
quality of the on-screen video. Audio output, as measured in watts per channel, is usually
tepid, marred oftentimes by poor overall audio clarity and noise. Moreover, volume
control, mute and tone control are typically the extent of audio features – hardly cutting
edge in this day of whiz-bang home theaters and sophisticated audio processing.
It’s not difficult to offer anecdotal proof of this general consensus on the state of
television audio. Consumer opinions, reflected through product reviews on major retailer
Websites and other sources, routinely chastise the audio quality of flat-panel televisions:
“The sound quality is like a cheap portable radio,” – consumer review on
Circuit City website, commenting on major manufacturer’s current 32-inch LCD.
Importantly, the consumer electronics industry leadership are lamenting the
current status of audio and are publicizing the need for the industry to provide the
consumer with a better auditory experience.
“Our Industry is failing TV buyers. They are missing the best way to
experience their new TV — with great audio,” – Gary Shapiro,
president, Consumer Electronics Association, May/June 2006.
Not surprisingly, the consumer media also often point out the inherent
shortcomings of flat-panel TV audio systems:
“..the stereo speaker sounded so tinny they almost demand you buy a
separate sound system ….” – Miami Herald, March 2006 product
A common reaction to this situation is: Who cares about the audio experience from
the DTV itself? If people want good audio, they’re going to connect the TV to a home
theater receiver and a set of more adept speakers. Sounds reasonable, but, statistically, is this really the case? Not according to the Consumer Electronics Association, whose studies found that only about one in four televisions are connected to a home theater system. Moreover, as flat-panel TVs migrate from primary living room/home theater settings and into bedrooms and secondary rooms in the home, it’s more likely that these TVs, smaller than their larger counterparts in the home theater room, will not benefit from the connection to a home theater system. Given this reality, the need for audio quality improvement and feature differentiation becomes even more critical.
So why don’t most flat-panel TVs offer even a marginal-quality sound experience? There are several reasons. For starters, the early development of flat-panel TVs thus far has, rightly, been guided by the video experience, as video quality improves with each generation of Plasma and LCD display technology. Relatedly, the manufacturers were primarily challenged with adapting display technologies into ever-growing screen widths, all the while focusing on improving manufacturing and lowering costs.
In this environment, audio has understandably taken the back seat. Crack open many flat-panel TVs today, and you’ll largely find that the audio technology inside is a remnant from rapidly fading days of CRT televisions. One key problem area is in audio amplification. Traditional analog amplifiers (A/B amplification), while fine solutions for CRT systems, are poor design choices for flat-panel TVs. This is because designers must make such severe concessions for the slim product form factors that they greatly limit the audio output power and resulting quality. Class A/B amplification generates tremendous heat, causing unique design challenges, and requiring bulky heat sinks that further introduce severe design problems. Most flat-panel TVs are challenged enough with power and heat issues just from the video system alone. As a result, it’s common to encounter many flat-panel televisions that offer only about 10 watts-per-channel – hardly enough power to offer a decent experience!
Although some of the referenced comments are more relevant to older models of flat screen televisions, the audio quality technology in the newer flat screen television models has made dramatic advancements. You will find better audio output in the higher-end, more expensive model Plasma and LCD televisions, and this audio technology will eventually make its way into the lower-end and less expensive models. Just as television viewing technology and standards have greatly improved, you expect the audio quality to improve as well.
Once you decided on the best room and the best position in that room for your new TV, it’s then time to choose the right television for the setting whether it’s a Plasma or LCD flat screen or even possibly a projection television. You should make a note of choices that you want to definitely rule out — for instance you might immediately rule out a digital light processing (DLP) because they tend to be expensive and too large. As well direct-view televisions tend to be smaller and brighter than rear-projection sets. If you’re working with limited space you can easily rule out projection televisions as they are bulkier and will require much more room.
After that, you will probably still have several choices that you’d be willing to consider purchasing. To further narrow the options, visit a couple of stores and look at the TVs on display. Some of the criteria you will want to try to evaluate when seeing televisions first hand are:
• Black levels
• Image sharpness
• Image brightness, particularly for a living-room situation
You may find that one technology works best for your eyes, or that you’ve found a particularly good discount that day on a particular model.
TIP: As you narrow down which specific models you wish to seriously consider, you should also think about how important the sound system is to you and take note of the types of sound systems available.
The table below summarizes some of the key differences between the two types of direct-view sets that you should consider.
• LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): LCD screens use the same technology as most laptop computers and many external computer monitors. Indeed, many LCD TV monitors can also be used as computer monitors.
Briefly, a “liquid crystal” is a chemical with two different melting points that is stabilized between those points. This allows it to reflect and refract light in ways that can be manipulated. In an LCD, these crystals (one for each primary color of each pixel) sit between thin glass plates. Light passes through these crystals and is modified by them to create an image.
The format’s supporters claim that LCDs give off brighter pictures than plasma screens, making them more appropriate for living rooms and family rooms, where windows might be uncovered and assorted non-TV viewing activities might also be occurring. LCD fans also claim these screens can generally diffuse reflections better than plasma screens can.
Although LCDs were once only available in sizes up to 36 inches, larger models (up to 70 inches) are now readily available on the market. Some early LCD sets had difficulty displaying fast-moving action onscreen and were difficult to view clearly from certain angles, but recent manufacturing advancements have largely resolved these issues.
• Plasma monitors: These offer a better value in larger screen sizes than LCD screens, though this may change in the future.
There’s no blood involved; the “plasma” is an inert gas residing inside tiny glass compartments (one for each pixel). An electrical charge causes the gas to give off ultraviolet light, which reacts with red, green, and blue phosphors within each pixel. Fans of plasma sets claim that they produce blacker blacks and more even colors.
Some early plasma screens were vulnerable to burn-in, a syndrome that you may recall from the days of CRT computer monitors: an image left on a monitor for too long would remain there permanently.
Manufacturers insist that today’s plasma screens don’t suffer from this problem. Plasma screens are also rumored to have short life spans; but manufacturers now claim that they will last at least 60,000 hours, equivalent to nearly 7 years of constant usage.
This should provide you with enough background information to confidently make the right choice in buying a new Plasma or LCD television that will suit your viewing purposes.
After you’ve determined the room to place your new TV and audio equipment, you must then determine the best spot within this room to place it. This will help you further refine your thinking about the size and type of television to buy. If you already happen to have your complete home entertainment equipment, the proper positioning and placement will enhance the optimal picture viewing and sound quality. It also gives you a good excuse to renovate the room.
Viewing Distance and Angle
The proper viewing distance and angle make all the difference in creating the optimal viewing experience. In analog days, people traditionally placed their sets up against one living room wall and their couches against the opposite wall. Any closer, and the horizontal lines that made up the image would be distractingly visible.
Digital televisions on the other hand should be placed closer to the viewer, or vice versa.
The “sweet spot,” the best place to view, is about two and a half times the screen’s diagonal size, or three times the screen’s width. Thus, a 40″ HDTV (measured diagonally) is best viewed from 100 inches away, or just over 8 feet, at least when it’s displaying HD pictures. However, when watching up-converted video signals, you might wish to sit a few feet farther back, so the image artifacts are less obvious.
So, a DTV with same screen size as an old analog TV can be enjoyably viewed closer in. You can move the sofa or reclining chair nearer to the set, leaving more space in the room for other activities. Alternately, you can get a bigger screen for the same room without fear of visible scan lines. Some experts claim you should get the biggest screen you can afford, so you can immerse yourself in the total viewing experience. Others would argue that you needn’t buy a screen so big that it overwhelms the room — unless, of course, you want to.
Wall Mounting Issues
A wall-mounted flat-screen TV may look spectacular in ads and in store displays, but installing one on your wall or above your fireplace is a definite project:
• Make sure the wall area you’re putting it on can support the weight (which, with the bigger flat-screen displays, can reach 80 pounds or more).
• Use a stud finder (about $20 at any hardware store) to determine where to attach the mounting hardware.
• If you want the illusion of wire-less-ness as seen in the ads, drill a hole in the wall behind where the set will go, drill another hole closer to the floor, and fish the power and other cords down between these holes.
• Don’t mount your set too high up on the wall; instead, place the screen at or just above eye level to seated viewers.
• You can find brief instructions for all this at
• If it seems too daunting, or if you don’t want to risk damaging the screen, consider getting professional installation.
Room lighting can be more controlled in a home theater setting than in a room shared with other family activities; but even in a living room, you should pay attention to it. Even if you have an HDTV that performs well in brightly lit rooms, you may want avoid placing the television where external light sources could shine on the screen and ruin the screen visibility.
Typically, CRT televisions provide the brightest images in brightly lit rooms, while projection sets are best when viewed in dimmer surroundings — though these surroundings don’t have to be as dark as movie theaters, and they shouldn’t be completely dark. You should at least have a dimmer light or a small light source behind the screen.
The newest flatscreen digital televisions come in a staggering array of shapes, sizes, and styles. Before you choose which one is right for you, you’ll need to decide where to place it and also where to place your surround sound stereo speakers, if you’re going for a full-on entertainment system. If you’re lucky enough to have a new house with a media room that’s dedicated to watching television and playing video games, then you probably already have the room measured for your new HDTV. However if you’re in an older home then you may consider turning an unused or under-used rooms like basements, studies, empty-nest bedrooms, or even garages and attics into your new home theater room.
There’s literally no limit to the time and money you can devote to installing a home theater and creating its environment. If you want only to separate TV viewing and video-game playing from your household’s other activities, you could simply clean out an unused room, stick a TV/DVD combo set in it, hook up a couple of stereo speakers, and maybe add a chair or two. At the other extreme, you could undertake a full-blown home improvement project, complete with acoustically “deadening” wallboards and carpeting, wall-mounted speakers, a wall-mounted screen, burnished-leather loge seats, a plush crimson theater curtain, and a retro-decorated lobby out in front complete with an old-time popcorn maker. Such an installation would probably involve a professional consultant and installer, and cost more than you’re willing to spend. Choose as big and as elaborate a system as you can afford that will fit proportionately in your room.
Which ever size TV works best in your chosen room is a judgment call, but you probably won’t want your new TV to overwhelm the size of your room if it’s used for other activities. Some households don’t have an entire room to devote to a home theater, or choose to devote such a room to other priorities. As a bookshelf stereo is more appropriate for a college dorm room than a $10,000 audiophile system, the same goes for a 20″ to 40″ direct-view TV being more appropriate for a living room than a mammoth projection screen television. You also might not want to place surround-sound speakers in a multipurpose room where tiny tots and house pets might trip over and damage them.
Determining what TV will work best in any room is a compromise between screen size and speaker volume, the size of the room, and the other activities undertaken in the room. For other rooms like the kitchen, bedrooms, garage, attic, or home office, a small non-HD digital set may fit right in. In these instances you’ll want to choose something relatively small and light that won’t excessively interfere with the room’s other uses, such as an SDTV LCD flat-screen set from 15″ to 20″. In a home office or a teen’s bedroom, a computer monitor could double as a DTV monitor, or vice versa to best fit the room. When you buy your next television be aware of the desired rooms primary function and size so that you make the appropriate television buying decision.
If you love the convenience of carrying all of your multimedia on an iPod but appreciate the size and clarity of the picture that can only be found on a large HD television, then why not opt for an HDTV that lets you have the best of both worlds. The JVC P-Series of LCD televisions features the Teledock, that lets you easily connect and access your iPod to watch and listen to all of your media from the comfort of your living room sofa. Another benefit of the Teledock is that it will also charge your iPod while it’s connected, so you’ll be ready to grab it and go with a full charge when you leave the house. Although the Teledock is a prominent feature of this 42″ LCD TV, it’s not the only feature that you’ll appreciate as it also makes use of a USB port that will let you connect digital cameras so you can use the JVC LT-42P789 as large screen picture viewer. With features like these, you might just forget that this is still an LCD television that produces crisp on-screen images thanks to its 1080p resolution, 13000:1 dynamic-contrast ratio and fast 6.5-millisecond screen response that also makes this the perfect screen as video game monitor. JVC has engineered this television to work seamlessly with digital electronics so that you can take advantage of its 10-watt per channel stereo speaker system as well as its large screen. When features like quick access to multimedia from your iPod or digital camera through your television is important, then buy the JVC P-Series LT-42P789 42″ LCD HDTV to make it easy and hassle-free.
Why EDTV is better than SDTV.
EDTV, or enhanced-definition televisions offer a 480-line image with progressive scanning (480p). This is achieved using digital circuitry, called a de-interlacer, to show the two half-frames of an SDTV image at once. EDTV doesn’t give you any more picture information than SDTV. It simply gives it to you in one full frame 30 times a second, instead of one field (half-frame) 60 times a second. Although this might not sound like a great improvement, but in actuality it is. It reduces the flicker and jaggy image artifacts, making a perceptibly smoother picture. In addition, many higher-end EDTV sets display 60 frames per second (fps), by flashing each 30-fps image on the screen twice. Again, that might not sound too impressive, but these sets use software to further smooth out the motion differences between frames. The result is a picture that’s as good as you can coax out of standard TV signals.
When is enhanced-definition good enough? It’s as good as you can get out of current DVDs without artificial up-scaling. If DVDs comprise your main programming source, an EDTV set might suffice unless you’re watching lots of HD programming from your cable or satellite provider, then you’ll really want a full HDTV.
Why HDTV is the best.
HDTV, high-definition television, offers the highest quality picture and is the real reason to get a digital TV. An HDTV picture contains at least five times the pixel count of an SDTV picture, but the image quality seems even greater. There’s no way to understand HDTV’s truly magnificent difference in quality until you’ve actually seen it, at an electronics store or possibly at your neighbor’s house. Until then, imagine the sharpest, brightest digital still photo, on the biggest, clearest computer monitor that you’ve ever seen. Then imagine this image in full motion with booming stereo sound from the appropriate surround sound speakers. Compared to HDTV, analog TV and SDTV look like muddy lo-res scans of digital still photos.
HDTV signals come in several varieties. The ATSC has set standards for 6 (out of 18 total) digital TV levels; all HD sets can display them all. Here’s a look at the most important ones:
• 720p and 1,080i: Most HDTV programming uses one of these. The former, 720p, offers less motion blur; the latter, 1,080i, offers more image detail. ABC, Fox, and ESPN transmit HD shows in 720p while most other HD programming sources have opted for 1,080i.
• 1,080p: Most of the newer TVs can also display 1,080p (that’s right, 1,080 horizontal rows of pixels with progressive scanning), even though there’s no 1,080p programming from cable or satellite sources yet, and ATSC broadcast standards don’t support it. Currently your only source for true 1,080p data is in the form of Blu-ray disc formats as the HD-DVD format failed in the HD disc format war.
Unlike the 480p reception of EDTV, 1,080p transmissions would carry twice the data of 1,080i. Although there are plenty of great televisions available on the market that offer 720p and 1080i resolution at an affordable price, 1080p is currently the ideal choice in television. Sharp and other companies are calling their 1,080p models Full HD. Television makers claim these TVs have the capability to up-convert 720p and 1,080i signals which makes them a great value even in the absence of native 1,080p programming. 1080p programming and televisions are where you want to be when it comes to the best picture, with some industry observers claiming that 1,080p, if properly shot and edited, could be comparable to the quality of 35mm movie film.