Article: The Care and Feeding of your HDTV

January 1, 2011 by  
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Here’s a nicely succinct, well-put together summary of all the various things to check and calibrate regarding your HDTV setup, courtesy of Engadget. Especially noteworthy are the notations regarding “premium” cables that are really just ripoffs for the most part:

Once you’re committed to procuring the proper connectors, the biggest danger is being ripped off on the pricing. While any experienced buyer will tell you to stick to online sources (Monoprice, Amazon) for cheap wiring, if you’re pressed for time you can look locally but beware — for HDMI, if you’re paying more than $10 for a typical 2-3m cable you’ve overpaid, if the pricetag is over $20 you’re being robbed and the same scale applies for most analog component wires. In the case of HDMI, its digital signal will either work or not work, it doesn’t get “better” because of what the cable is made from, and unless your wiring is stretched an incredible distance the only one who sees a benefit from premium wires is the person selling them.

See here for the complete article: Link

Opinion: Motion processing on HDTVs – On or Off?

November 21, 2010 by  
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There are many names for it: TruMotion, Auto Motion Plus, MotionFlow, and more are commonly referred to with regard to the 120Hz / 240Hz / 480Hz motion processing technology that speeds up the refresh and mixes alternately scanned frames for a smoother video experience, but sometimes it can cause undesirable visual issues.

It can vary according to the content and the exact technical implementation, but with the “triple ball effect” and one too many films that look “too clean” like soap operas, disabling the effect is one of the first things we learned how to do on many HDTV units these days.

So what do you, our readers, think? Do you disable it? Is it a technology that still needs more work? Our opinion is it needs to be refined a bit, but we’d like to hear what all of you think.

Top 10 Tips: Scoring the Best Black Friday Deals

November 19, 2010 by  
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Top HDTV blog site has posted a very informative and cool article about getting the most out of the upcoming Black Friday holiday. Here’s a part of their top 10 list:

1. Read the Ads — In Print & Online
Consumer World suggests that you carefully review your local newspapers on Thanksgiving Day. Usually, they will be stuffed with Black Friday ads and coupons. Bring them with you on the big day. Plus, many retailers are offering special Black Friday deals at their web sites. Don’t forget to check them out 24-48 hours prior to the big day. (Also see Rule #6)

2. Evaluate the Deals
Don’t assume every “deal” is a deal. Compare the “Black Friday” special price with the HDTV’s normal price before buying. You can do that at various e-commerce web sites such as and You may even find a lower price online.

3. Buy a Good Product

A low price doesn’t guarantee a high-quality television.  Do some research and read product reviews at sites such as If you’re not familiar with the product’s brand name, check out its customer service record with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau.

4. Look For More Discounts
Some stores issue coupons or rebates on high-def sets and other products such as High-Definition DVD players. Find out if the discounts apply to the Black Friday specials.

Go here to read more great tips about how to score some nice HDTV deals the day after Thanksgiving.

HD Learning: Local Dimming, and what is it?

November 5, 2010 by  
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Here’s some knowledge regarding HDTV and local dimming. What is it really and how does it benefit HDTV performance? Here you go, a condensed lesson courtesy of Engadget HD:

One thing that makes covering LCD TVs so interesting is that the technology is always advancing and one innovation that might be the biggest in LCDs yet, is local dimming. But you’re probably wondering, what is it exactly? Well in non-edgelit LED LCDs TV, there’s an array of LED lights behind the liquid crystal pixels, and local dimming is when sections of the LED array are turned off or dimmed to help produce the deep blacks — like Kuro deep. But while this tech can produce very deep blacks and fantastic contrast, there’s a catch, it also create an artifact referred to as a halo around bright objects. Of course we don’t exactly watch movies with flash lights or star fields every night, and dark scenes that expose the artifact caused by local dimming (we have to point out that cameras can sometimes make it more drastic than it appears in reality). So while we wouldn’t buy an LCD without local dimming, there’s still a lot to look forward to in the next generation when the dimming is sure to become more local, and thus the artifact will be minimized.

Don’t say you never learn anything here on our friendly blog, we always aim to increase the knowledge of HDTV at home and abroad.

3D Q and A: List of questions about HD 3D you always wanted to ask

April 24, 2010 by  
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Yes, we know 3D is on your list of things to look out for, but how about a comprehensive list of Q&A regarding HDTV 3D and all its faults and strengths? Now there’s one posted by Engadget that answers pretty much everything you wanted to know about it, and more.

Feel free to browse the list, posted here. Highlights of the read include: Is HDMI 1.4 required for 3D to work? Not really, 1.3 will work in many cases, actually, though its hit or miss. Another question is: are there any 3D channels? Nope. ESPN will soon have a 3D channel available, and Discovery/Sony are working on a 3D channel as well.

More questions asked and answered at the link.

Go Green, Get a Better Picture Too: THX suggests calibrating HDTVs to save the world

September 2, 2009 by  
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20090901-thx-greenThe multimedia wizards with THX and Lucasfilm have offically suggested that one way to save electricity (and thus, the environment) is to calibrate your HDTV very carefully when you get it. Most TVs are set to 100% contrast right out of the box, costing you money.

Videophiles have always known about this, but we’re hoping that THX can bring this message to everyone: TVs shouldn’t double as tanning lamps and room heaters.

How about a 15 – 50% energy savings for a good reason to try this out? Simply activating the THX adjustments screens built into some DVDs is enough to save you $50-100 a year on your power bill (and get a better overall picture too), and that should be incentives enough for anyone.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Sales: DisplaySearch shows Plasma to best LCD in some tests

July 13, 2009 by  
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20090409-panasonic_tc-p50g10The past year or so has been pretty rough on Plasma, and yet we’ve said there are times and usages that Plasma beats LCD. And now the tests of a company whose specialty is TVs has backed that up. The  “old” gas capsule technology is considered outdated in many circles, but test results don’t lie.

The lineup of 2008 top of the line LCDs from Samsung, Sharp and Sony were carefully calibrated and compared against a top-end Pansonic plasma TV.

Here’s the full details of the test, but the gist is: the plasma set beat all of the LCDs in contrast, color accuracy and black level, and in some cases, it wasn’t even close. That should be alarming for those who know that Plasma is on its way out for most companies, but it appears maybe it could be another Beta vs. VHS kind of situation (Beta was also clearly superior in sound and picture quality, but lost the cassette tape wars anyway and faded away).

Thought: Does HD need an official definition?

April 4, 2009 by  
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hdtv_logoThere’s little doubt that much of what passes for HD isn’t very HD at all (ie 720p isn’t really HD if you look at it side by side with 1080p), but it seems many throw up their hands when it comes to officially defining what makes a signal or TV HD. This is part of what makes the medium so confusing.

Older movies in Blu-Ray, for example, are not HD in our opinion, since they were not sourced in HD originally, needless to say. Some older 1080p HDTV’s also don’t look great, even though they’re true HD.  Yes, the pixels are there, but the decoder is what really matters to the naked eye and subjective appearance quality.

Many say the bitrate per second is what should be HD, or perhaps the quality of the source medium. All agree basic DVD is NOT HD at all, and we agree with that as well.

What would be HD to you, our readers?

Knowledge: How to bring HDTV content into a hotel room

March 28, 2009 by  
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hacking-hotel-tvSome hotel chains are finally realizing how important HDTV or HD on Demand is to a happt guest experience, but there are still a number stuck in SD/old-school hell. For those moments, Gadling‘s how-to guide describes how to bring HD and high-quality content to a hotel TV with the least amount of trouble.

There are options for those unlucky hotels with ancient setups. Firstly, bring a PMP and all the different connections you can think of, wire-wise (these days, won’t take up much suitcase space). Furthermore, solutions like Slingboxen and other place-shifting gadgets allow you to pipe laptop content onto a TV, turning any set into an experience all your own.

If you’re looking for more nuggets of HD travel knowledge, read here.

“Monster HDMI” scam still going on in various stores

March 23, 2009 by  
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monster-hdmi-composite-scamYes, there are companies that still prey on ignorance and fear, and this is one of those instances…this scam was reported today on Engadget, and it’s a pretty sad one.

It shows a display of HD connected two different ways: one via composite cable, which is an SD quality and rather poor connection for an HD set, and one using HDMI monster cables, which is a whole world different quality wise. The display indicates they’re BOTH HD, just connected using different types of cable, which isn’t exactly true.

Why do companies do this? Probably to sell more (overpriced) Monster Cables, but still…if they’re going to put up a display like this, there has to be full disclosure about the specs/cables involved.

More about this scam, with pics (shown here) in the eye-opening brief article, and the comments that follow mostly confirm customers contempt for this practice.

Article: HDMI 1.3 Primer

March 22, 2009 by  
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3-20-09-hdmi-cable-endTo get the most from your HDTV, using HDMI is essential, especially for the newest and fanciest audio formats to sound their best. Much has been said about the benefits of HDMI (among them eliminating the cable clutter that commonly plagues complex home theatre setups), and now there’s an article that brings these features into focus.

Version 1.3 of HDMI was released a bit ago, and its supposed to really up the ante with sound and picture quality. The geeks at HomeTheaterMag have broken everything down: HDMI’s upside, downside, and everything in between, in exquisite detail.

Soak in the article here, which is must reading for home theatre enthusiasts.

Engadget HD Article: Best 30-35″ HDTV user survey

March 18, 2009 by  
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2-27-09-lg-plasma-hdtvSo you’re looking for a HDTV for your bedroom or other room where you don’t necessarily need a 55″ monster, and you want to find the best deal on a great TV?

Engadget HD has a new user comment survey with lots of informative responses regarding this question. Should you bother with a 1080p set in this type of size? What size is best for a smaller room? These questions and more are brought up in the comments.

Our own stance has been: buy the best and biggest TV you can afford on your budget, and go 1080p if you can (assuming the TV is 32″ or more; smaller than that, it doesn’t make much difference). Samsung TV’s seem to capture the majority of the commenter’s hearts in this size range, it seems.

Read more here.

Tip: Turn down the brightness, save some money too

March 17, 2009 by  
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20080502-greentvMany TV experts (including us) have said before: turning down the ultra-brightness mode of your HDTV can extend the life of it, and save you money on your power bill too. Many people don’t seem to be following that advice however.

A recent study presented at the Ergonomics Symposium on Flat Panels indicated almost 80% of users ended up keeping their TV in extremely high brightness modes, and 81% had the ambient light adjustment features disabled.

That’s evil for picture quality, but more sinister for energy usage – the study stated that 4 factors determine proper brightness: those are viewing angle, age of the user, content luminance and ambient lighting in the room) are used to help decide how bright the TV should be, and “dynamic” mode doesn’t care about what’s correct, it’s used to sell TV’s.

Moving back display brightness just a bit can save up 20-30% on your electric usage of the TV. Bear in mind this from a sample of 83 homes, but based on my own experience, with far too many homes i’ve visited having the mode set to glowing eye-searing whites and reds around everything, it sounds fairly accurate.

720p vs. 1080p: What’s the big deal these days?

March 13, 2009 by  
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720p-vs-1080p-4You’ve heard the terms mentioned on here a hundred times: 720p, 1080p, etc. Is there really a big difference thes days? If you’re shopping for a TV, should you care about whether your TV has either one?

CNET has a new article that carefully explains the differences between the two. Mainly, the difference is sharpness/detail, and it also depends on what kind of media you’re going to play on the TV. If you’re going to go high-end HD or Blu-Ray, 1080p will look a lot better. If you just watch a few basic satellite HD channels and DVDs and SD programming, 720p is plenty for you. The number indicates the number of pixels able to be displayed on the screen at once.

Here’s the full read for those in the dark about what these numbers mean these days.

HD Primer: Why are there black bars on my new HDTV?

February 25, 2009 by  
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ar12_mdYou just bought a new HDTV with widescreen, and expect all of your content to fill all of the screen, right? You get it home, and see most of the content has black bars or is centered in the middle with bars on the side. What is this?

Here is one of the most detailed and interesting explanations of all the differing reasons and types of screen types present on HDTV’s, presented by Engadget HD. It comes with screenshots of each type of screen you may encounter, with full technical explanations of each.

The gist is: most shows are still presented in 4:3 mode, which is typical old-fashioned tube TV dimensions, and only carry enough info to fill this space. You can set it to “stretch”, but depending on the TV, it may look “stretched out” and unnatural. This is slowly changing as more and more shows are shot in widescreen.

Here’s the article: Link

HDTV Q&A with Screen Sleuth

January 2, 2009 by  
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hdtvEvery once in a while, we’ll answer basic HDTV and related questions in detail here on the site. Below is one such question that was posed elsewhere on another site, and i’ve heard the question many times myself:

Q: Since the analog sets are 4:3 aspect ratio and the HD signal is 16:9, something will change. Will the converted HD signal provided by Time Warner (or other provider) fill the width of the analog screen with black space at the top and bottom to give the HD aspect ratio? Or will the converted HD signal fill the height of the screen with the extra HD width discarded?

The aspect ratio of shows will not change at all. Some shows are shot and created in widescreen (16:9), while some are still more normal and square (commonly known as 4:3 ratio). An HDTV signal will not change the way a show was created.

Also, the conversion to digital will not mean all shows will be broadcast in high definition (HD) by default. A show must shot in HD to be capable of being viewed in HD on a TV. All over-the-air channels will be digitally broadcast over the air, which will make shows more capable of better picture and sound. The cable service itself won’t change.

HD shows (ones shot in HD) are traditionally widescreen, and will be broadcast in 16:9 ratio. Shows that aren’t will be broadcast as before (with possible minor quality improvements because of the digital broadcasting).

We’re always glad to be here to clear up the common misconceptions of HD for our readers.

Best Buy and the value of consumer education

January 2, 2009 by  
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hdtv-best-buy-deceptionBest Buy (and other companies too on occasion) will sometimes resort to slightly unsavory tactics to upsell certain services that aren’t always necessary for customers who wish to educate themselves a little bit. In this case, the service involved is a HDTV calibration service that costs a fair bit that Best Buy (at least some of them anyway) are using rather sneaky tactics to sell the service to unsuspecting, uninformed consumers.

A tipster and a report on Gizmodo caught a local Best Buy running a side-by side comparison display which showed the difference between a calibrated and an non-calibrated HDTV. No big deal, right?

After further examination, it was discovered one was hooked up with component cables while the clearer TV had HDMI. The big deal about this is, component cable is analog and won’t display 1080p in some cases due to copy protection; you need HDMI to display this resolution. It could have explained the difference in image quality, and comparing systems set up the same way is the best and most honest way to show th differences with a purely internal calibration service like this.

To defend yourself against this sort of thing, get educated. This article off Gizmodo that we profiled earlier shows you how to calibrate your TV yourself, and it only takes 5-10 minutes to do. This is a practice that (at those stores anyway) probably won’t change, so make sure you go in and be informed about your choices and what you need to do to get the best out of your HDTV.

Yahoo’s handy tips for setting up your new HDTV

December 20, 2008 by  
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hdtvMany dream of the day they get their new HDTV beauty home, hook it up, and be prepared to be wowed by amazing, sharp clear picture they only dreamed possible previously. But what if it doesn’t look quite right, or as good as it could be, perhaps? Yahoo has a new article out that covers the possibilities, and what to do should this happen. There’s a bit to remember if you’re new to it, and this article may help a lot.

The basics are: make sure you have HDMI or composite cables to hook your TV up with, make sure you have an HD stream ready to go from your satellite or cable carrier and that the box you use is an HD box, make sure you’re on the “HD” channels (commonly high up in the cable list number wise) and make sure your set is calibrated properly (many aren’t out of the box). All of these will assure the best possible picture on your HDTV.

See this article for more details: Link

Battle of the under $900 HDTVs

December 13, 2008 by  
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Gizmodo has posted an interesting and detailed story comparing various HDTV’s under $900 against each other, complete with screenshots and lots of juicy details.

The battles include: The Toshiba Regza vs. Vizio (the Toshiba was judged superior), the close race between the Westinghouse and the Vizio (judged a tie, for a backlight issue dragged down the Westinghouse a bit), and the big loser was the Insignia, which scored very poorly against the Vizio. The Regza also (barely) beat the Vizio Plasma TV.

The details given are very interesting, and it points up the real difference between the different models and companies. Also given a little text was the fact that calibrating your TV (we had an article here about this not too long ago) makes nearly any set better than it would be out of the box.

Here’s the article: Link

The HDTV Buying Guide Primer

December 10, 2008 by  
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Here’s something we discovered in our endless search finding more information to help you find great deals for the holidays, and all year long: a 5-page article, giving lots of detail about how to select an HDTV, with lots of great info and details, courtesy of the Washington Post.

Included topics: the difference between LCD and Plasma, the different specs and what they really mean, the differen resolutions and how they translate into real-world performance, and lots of other great stuff. It’s one of the more detailed articles we’ve seen on the subject.

If you’re new to the world of HDTV, this article is a must-read before you go shopping this holiday season. It’ll keep you from making any mistakes when selecting the big screen HDTV of your dreams.

Here’s the link to the article: Link

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