HDTV Buying Guide

by on January 25, 2006

in Film,Football,Madden,Technology,Television,Video Games,Xbox

It has been just over a year since I bought my and now I can’t imagine life without one. The picture is so crystal clear (and huge) that it almost bothers me to see movies in the theater because you see imperfections in the film in theaters (scratches and lint on the film and such) that you do not see in a purely digital high definition transmission. I rarely see movies in the theater anymore; usually only those movies that are so epic that they demand viewing on a massive theater screen.

Needless to say, playing video games on it is a treat, as well.

I have since given advice to friends on buying an high definition television and someone suggested I put it on my blog. So here it is:

My HDTV Buying Guide

HDTV Research

Considering you’re on the brink of laying down some serious scratch for your new entertainment system, you’ll no doubt want to research your purchase before committing the cash.

The best starting point I’ve found is . It will take you through the basics: What type of set you can afford; what size screen you should get; the fundamental definitions, formats, and technologies you’ll need to understand; the difference between wide-screen and 4:3; features and cable connections (with a superb chart); what to know about playing video games on your set; understanding picture quality and settings on your HDTV; and what to know about accessories and warranties.

About.com has an excellent page that ; they also have a very good home theater section.

Burn-In

You mean you could spend a ton of money on a new HDTV, only to have it completely ruined by burning a TV station logo into your screen? Theoretically, yeah, you could. But don’t completely freak out about it; a little common sense and you’re fine.

Basically, the idea is to not have a static image showing on one
portion of your screen for a long time, or that image will “burn-in”
and you’ll always have a “ghost” of it whenever you watch your TV. I
was all paranoid about it but fear has proved largely unfounded; You
just need to be responsible about how you use the set.

Don’t spend eight hours at a time playing a video game with a stationary graphical element (like a health bar) on it without changing the image once in a while. If the presidential election ever comes down to the wire like 2000 again and you’re rivited to CNN’s all-live coverage, just remember to change the channel occasionally to refresh the screen so that crawling ticker at the bottom doesn’t wreck your screen.

I admit, it freaked me out at first, too. But common sense is all you need. I have had no problems.

Read more:

Buying Refurbished

I bought a refurbished HDTV, so I’ll focus on my experience but don’t let the word "refurbished" scare you away. Refurbished can mean anything from the packaging the item was shipped in was dented and so was returned to the manufacturer but nothing at all was wrong with the item itself, or there was something wrong with the item but it was refurbished by the manufacturer to like-new working order.

Sellers of refurbished items put many safeguards in place, so you need to pay attention to their policies, but I think it’s a pretty safe process. I had no problems. The risk of buying refurbished, I think, is small but the savings benefits are significant.

There are two companies that I narrowed my purchase options down to but there are others out there that you can find when searching for “.” Those two were (because they are based in Minneapolis, so I’d presumably get my set quicker and since they are in town, if I hd any problems with the TV, it won’t be a burden contacting them in person).

Before settling on your particular set or of you’re planning on buying from an online shop, definitely check out for reviews of both the TV you’re considering or the merchant. Some of the reviews are obviously by the merchants selling the items, but most of the reviews are by people who have actually bought the product, so can see if there are any issues that you should be aware of.

I ultimately bought my TV from is and I was very happy with them; they had excellent customer service, and the TV arrived before they said it would. Their shipping service was great: Two guys brought it into my home, took it out of the box, and set it up in about five minutes.

You’ll also need to buy decent cables—everyone except people at Best Buy have told me that you don’t need to buy the obscenely expensive ; but even so, you’ll need good cables to hook up your home theater sound system, your DVD and/or VCR, your cable box, and your gaming system.

When you finally get your set, you’ll need to "calibrate" it for optimum performance. . You can buy set-up discs to optimize your TV for realistic settings (they set them at the factory to high brightness and high contrast to make the TVs look more vivid in the showrooms). I found one at Best Buy.

If you don’t already, think about subscribing to one of the premium movie cable channels like . Each of them have a high-definition channel and the movies on them are something to behold: The clarity is amazing—better than DVDs and certainly better than movie theaters that are using reels. You won’t really be getting the best out of your set if you don’t subscribe to some HDTV channels.

Movies are amazing but if you’re into sports, there’s nothing like watching a football or baseball game with the extra screen width and the surround sound picking up field noises and being able to hear hecklers in the crowd behind you.

As I said before, playing video games on an HDTV (especially if you’ve got a surround-sound Dolby 5.1 home theater setup) is an amazing experience. Needless to say, video games will only get that much better if you hook up a next-generation video game console such as the to your HDTV.

That’s what I’m talking about!

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