Buying Guide

Best Flat Screen TVs for Your Home

LCD vs. Plasma

Flat panels offer many benefits, including getting rid of glare and a wider viewing angle.

  • LCD and plasma TVs can broadcast in high definition, but not every flat panel TV has the capacity for HD broadcasts.
  • LCD stands for liquid-crystal display where light passes through pixels that each have red, green and blue components used to create a myriad of colors and textures.
  • Plasma utilizes gases such as neon and xenon that, when charged with electricity, generate ultraviolet light. The light is filtered through different-colored phosphors to create millions of different colors.
TV Types
Plasma TV
Feature/Benefits Can often double as a computer monitor Use less energy Relatively lightweight Very slim May be more economical Provide a wider viewing angle Very slim Offer extremely vibrant colors Provide excellent contrast More efficient at showing fast-moving videos
Other Considerations Available in smaller sizes, usually up to 40 inches Viewing angle may be more limited Can be somewhat expensive, though often less than plasma units Ideal for smaller rooms Available in larger sizes, usually starting around 36 inches Use more energy Sometimes susceptible to image burn Can be somewhat expensive Ideal for home theaters
Size and Placement

 Flat panel TVs can range in size from 10 inches up to 100 inches.

  • The size you choose should be based on how large the room is where you are installing the TV, as the larger the screen, the farther away you need to sit for comfortable viewing.
  • Some screens may be viewed from angles as extreme as 160-170 degrees.
  • Some can be mounted to the ceiling for greater placement versatility.
  • Avoid mounting plasma TVs over the fireplace as the heat may adversely affect it.
Definition Specifications

 Flat panel TVs need to be at least 720 pixels high to show enhanced definition programming.

  • Look for TVs with HDMI input for the highest quality picture.
  • USB connections allow you to connect digital and video cameras, DVD players, VCRs and video game consoles.
  • High contrast ratios, such as 1000:1, provide better separation of light and dark colors for a sharper picture.
  • Make sure the brightness level is appropriate for the size of the room.
  • Tuners should have signal input via satellite, cable or over-the-airwaves.