Electronic Devices: Tv Buying Guide

Televisions are expensive and often come with features that are never used. Learn what to look for when purchasing a new TV.

Flat screen, plasma, digital, surround sound, these are all terms you might hear while browsing the latest in television models. Shopping for televisions is an important task, since once purchased, they tend to serve us for quite some time before we're ready to purchase another. Making it difficult is the fact that there are literally hundreds of televisions on the market, each with dozens of features. Many of these are rated 5 stars by the consumers, making it even harder to select the perfect model. With price ranges from $200 to $3,000, it's important to understand the features and models before making a decision. Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sharpe and RCA are among the top TVs, but various combinations of features set the models apart from one another.

If you're hoping to spend under $300, you can expect to find a curved tube TV up to 27 inches or a flat tube TV, up to 20 inches. Handheld models and small black and white portables are also available in this price range. In the $300 to $500 range, you can have your choice of curved tubes of 27 to 32 inches or flat tubes up to 27 inches. In addition, LCDs up to 15 inches are also in this category. You can get a slightly larger model between $500 to $750 with curved tubes between 32 to 36 inches or HDTV tubes at 27 inches. The LCDs in this category would be up to 17 inches. If you have a little more to invest, say, $750 to $1000, you can get curved tube TVs about 36 inches, Flat Tube TVs of 32 to 36 inches or HDTV tubes of up to 30 inches, wide-screen. Rear-projection TVs up to 51 inches and LCD up to 20 inches also fall into this category. For $1000 to $1500, flat tube TVs are available in the 36 inch models or HDTV tube, 32 to 36 inches, or 30 to 34 inches in wide screen are available with Rear-projection models up to 61 inch and LCD up to 22 inches falling in the same group. $1500 to $3000 can get you a high-end TV up to 40 inches, rear-projection 61 inches or larger, or LCD up to 30 inch. Plasma TVs start in the neighborhood of $3000 and go higher. Rear-projection DLP, LCD, and LCoS are also in this category, as well as LCDs of 30 inches or larger.

Features, sound systems and inputs are all considerations when purchasing your next TV. One feature you definitely want is a universal remote which can operate other A/V equipment. They usually work with a satellite or cable boxes and can often control DVDs, and VCRs. If you watch TV with the lights off, look for a remote which has glowing buttons. PIP allows you to watch one show while another small screen pops up in the corner to allow you to view a second program at the same time. Another version of this is POP, which allows you to divide the television screen into two equal sections and view a different program on each. Most TVs on the market today have MTS stereo reception and speakers which provide better sound quality than a single speaker. If a TV manufacturer lists readings of 5 watts per channel or higher, it's a decent audio system. Some sets offer the surround-sound feature which is similar to the sound of a good car stereo with front and back speakers. Other great options for your next TV are captions, timers which shut the TV on or off at a specified time, front panel inputs which makes hooking up game consoles very simple, vertical compression mode which allows the display of full resolutions of DVDs, and built-in games.

Choose a television which is not too big for the room, not too small. There's no need to spend big money on a TV if you just want the basics, but if you want a set that will perform for years to come, a good choice would be a model that consumers have rated to be a good investment. With technology changing every day, it wouldn't be surprising if your new purchase is outdated in a few years, so consider this before deciding how much to spend.

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