Televisions are flying off the shelves this holiday shopping season as major retailers use the entertainment device as their loss leader to get folks into their stores. TV's that just a few years ago would have cost somewhere between $500 and $1000 can be found for right around $200.
Those of us who haven't purchased a television in the past few years are shocked when we see the array of options available. Gone are the days when you just walked into TV mart and bought the largest television you could afford and lugged the 500 lb behemoth back to your car. Today shoppers are presented with not only two different resolutions, but also three primary types of televisions to choose from.
Today's TV's generally come in two resolutions: 720p and 1080p. The ‘P' stands for pixels and tells you how many of those pixels the television crams into it's display. Televisions that feature 720p are actually 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels high and feature a larger pixel than a 1080p television that has a 1920 pixel wide by 1080 pixel high screen. The more pixels in a display, the higher the clarity and quality of the television picture, so even though a 720p TV is considered standard high definition, the picture on a 1080p television is going to pop much more when fed the appropriate media.
Televisions today generally fall into three types: Plasma, LCD, and LED.
Plasma TVs have been around for the longest time of all flat panel displays and were long revered for the quality of picture provided. These types of televisions tend to be thicker as the plasma gas included in the screen actually lights up and creates a picture without requiring auxiliary lighting. Plasma screens are prone to burn in and use major amounts of energy to light the gases in the display. Plasma television's popularity is waning even though most are available at the lowest price point of any flat screen television.
Most flat screens found on the shelves or retailers today are LCD. As the gases required for creating the picture do not illuminate themselves, a lighting element made up of standard compact florescent technology backlights the screen. Although LCD televisions are still power hungry their energy usage when compared to a plasma television seems down right miserly. Picture quality of LCD TVs varies widely between manufacturers but the increasingly attractive price point makes LCD televisions very popular with consumers.
Rapidly growing in popularity, the LED television uses the same technology being found in everything from Christmas lights to car turn signals to illuminate the television screen. While early LED televisions were cost prohibitive and struggled to display vivid colors, today the LED television has replaced the plasma TV for best quality picture at a price that is quickly approaching regular LCD technology. Thanks to the nature of LED technology these devices are the thinnest and most energy conserving TV's to date.
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C Robert Dillon is the digital developer at WISH-TV in Indianapolis and serves as a technology consultant and on-air contributor to WISH as well as the technology expert and host of the Taming Technology segment on Indy Style. Opinions presented are those of the author and not necessarily of LIN Media, WISH-TV, or Indy Style. You can keep up with Rob on Twitter , Facebook , or Google+ .
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