TechNotes: TV Technologies and Applications

Home Theater San FranciscoIn the world of televisions, there are a lot of options to choose from, and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. In just a few short years, the television industry has seen a dramatic shift away from older TV technologies to almost exclusively relying on liquid crystal (LCD) and plasma flat-panel display technologies. If you were to walk into a big-box consumer electronics store these days, you’d be hard pressed to find a bulky direct-view CRT or projection TV anywhere on the sales floor.To help you make sense of it all, here’s where we’ve been and where we currently are when it comes to the technology behind TV display devices.

Historical TVsDirect-view CRT – Who can forget the giant plastic and glass behemoths that used to dominate our living rooms? While they produced a great standard-definition picture, any direct-view CRT of a good size weighed in excess of 250-300 pounds. Fortunately for our backs, direct-view CRTs are not readily available anymore.

CRT Rear Projection – The original big-screen TV, this technology used red, green and blue “guns” that worked together to project light onto a large screen. Brightness was a challenge with these early big-screen TVs, so they were only well-suited to rooms that were kept fairly dark on a regular basis. Like direct view CRTs, these have also fallen into obsolescence.

DLP/LCD Rear Projection – The original “affordable” high-definition TV, these projection TVs used relatively new Digital Light Projection (DLP) or LCD projection technology to project a much brighter image on a screen. Since they eliminated the three cathode-ray tubes, they were extremely lightweight and were also not as deep. DLP and LCD projection TVs were largely driven into obsolescence due to the dramatic drop in price of flat-panel LCD TVs over the past two to three years.

Current Flat-panel Display TechnologiesPlasma TV – Considered the “gold standard” of high-definition TV viewing, plasma TVs were the original flat-panel display on the market and remain the best to this day. Early plasma TVs were plagued by an extremely high price tag,  relatively short lifespan and image retention (or “burn-in”) issues. Thankfully, advances in technology have allowed these issues to fall by the wayside. With a plasma TV, each pixel is its own “bulb” so you are looking directly at the light source. These TVs are also the brightest available and higher-end models from Panasonic and Pioneer have great black levels, or contrast. However, these TVs have gained a reputation for consuming a lot of energy and glare off the plasma’s glass display. Bottom line: if picture quality is paramount, plasma is your answer.

LCD TV – LCD TVs consist of a light source and a lens. Original LCD TVs used CCFL fluorescent bulbs as the light source. New versions are using LED backlight technologies in “edge-lit” or “full array” configurations. LCD TVs have taken over as the inexpensive alternative for flatscreen technologies. Although they do not have the brightness, contrast and off-axis viewing advantages of plasma, they are less expensive and do a nice job in a high glare environment. They are the most energy efficient TV made, so if price and/or energy usage are most important, LCD TVs are the solution.As the North Bay’s TV experts, SoundVision can help you choose a TV solution that’s right for you. Give us a call or send us an email today!

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