With the end of the football season comes the biggest season for TV sales. The run-up to next month's Super Bowl prods potatoes off their couches and into the stores, anxious to see the big game on a bigger screen.
Even those who bought their flat panel in recent years might not rest
comfortably. TV manufacturers are working hard to keep viewers antsy to
have a set with the latest in cool technology. Think of TVs more like a
We studied the hundreds of flat-panel sets that plastered walls at
the recent Consumer Electronics Show in
Plasma vs. LCD
This long-simmering battle has been decided for most buyers. LCDs (liquid crystal displays) are thinner, lighter, and more energy efficient. Newer models have also improved on earlier weaknesses: The image fades less for viewers sitting to the side, fast motion leaves little or no blur, and contrast has improved so images don't appear washed out. Plasma can still be the right choice for some people, as it still produces the best picture with darker blacks that make for even better contrast. And plasma is usually still cheaper, particularly at larger sizes of 50 inches and wider. But nearly 80 percent of the TVs sold this year will be LCDs, say market researchers at DisplaySearch.
60, 120 or 240 Hz Refresh Rates
For LCD buyers, this number reflects how well a
screen can reduce the blur from fast motion. Manufacturers have given it
a variety of names, such as
Standard TVs refreshed the image 60 times a second, or 60Hz. A couple of years ago, software began producing an extra image between scans to produce a virtual 120Hz that smoothed image motion. Many higher-end sets go an image further with 240Hz, which nearly eliminates the trails, say, behind a fast-moving hockey puck.
Sports is one justification for paying
the premium for 240Hz, which might run
Fuller HD - 1080p
The debate over 1080p, or "full HD," is also nearly over
as it gets more difficult to find sets with less resolution,
particularly among LCD screens. Buyers might save
That said, 1080p is the rule on any set with advanced features, such as 120Hz refresh rates or Internet connectivity, and not a bad thing to have for the small added cost.
To shine light in an LCD display, manufacturers have typically used fluorescent tubes. Some models now use LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that use less energy and allow for thinner designs. One upcoming Samsung model uses LED at its edges ("edge-lit") to make it pencil-thin, only 0.3 inches deep. Other, more expensive sets spread an array of LEDs across the back of a screen and improve its contrast; turning off a group of LEDs can make for blacker blacks.
Adding edge-lit LED typically
Many plasma and LCD models now can connect with the
Internet to stream movies, TV shows, and YouTube videos. Others can
display widgets with news, weather, or sports scores from Web portals
Last year's crop mostly relied on wired Ethernet connections, which
don't exist in many living rooms. More models this year will have
wireless network connections, though setup is likely to be a challenge.
The premium for an Internet-capable set from the likes of Vizio or LG
3D or not 3D
This question is sort of moot for the Super Bowl, which comes before the 3D tsunami washes over the TV market. At least that's what appears is coming, judging from all the 3D announcements at CES.
So the question is whether 3D is worth delaying a TV purchase. The answer
is no, except for those with the budget to afford the absolute latest.
It's not the sets themselves that will cost so much. "By the next
holiday season, we will see 3D sets at prices that are slightly more
than we're paying for flat-panel TVs today," says
Ultimate Video Game of the Decade Showdown
Kyle Orland, Crispy Gamer
What I wanted was a definitive Video Games of the Decade list -- a collection of video game choices that represented a wide range of professional, knowledgeable opinions about the last 10 years of games. I figured such a list wouldn't just pop into existence on its own, so I decided to build it myself
CES 2010: Peripheral Vision
Kyle Orland, Crispy Gamer
Many video gaming hardware makers were showing off their new wares at CES 2010 in Vegas each year. Here are the most noteworthy of the selection shown at the show earlier this month.
Television - TV Vets Assess Sitcoms
David Lee -- part of the creative trio that launched 'Wings' and 'Frasier' -- left television in 2004 finding a nifty second act in his first love, the theater. Lee agreed to discuss TV's current comedy landscape, which has seemingly taken several welcome turns.
Mobile Tech That Stole the Decade
If the '90s were the Internet era, maybe the '00s were the mobile decade. Technology packed ever more power into ever smaller devices, putting portable electronics at the leading edge of innovation this decade. With freedom of movement in mind, here are the top tech innovations of 2000-2009 ...
The Biggest Technology Flops of the Decade
The new millennium was born amid an Internet bubble that soon burst, not a good omen for the technology industry. The sector rallied, however, and continued to produce a remarkable run of new gadgets. But it had more than its share of flops, as well. Here are the 10 biggest debacles of the decade
The Yearbook Faces Competition from Facebook
Challenged by the amount of time and energy today's teenagers devote to staying up to date on their friends' Facebook or MySpace pages and Twitter feeds, the traditional school yearbook is facing an identity crisis. The extent to which today's students will prefer to share their high school reminiscences via online social networks a few years from now is unclear
Entrepreneurs Take On Sexting and Child Safety Online
Kids are often more tech-savvy than their parents, so no tool can provide perfect oversight. But parents' concern over sexting, cyberbullying, and other online threats is driving businesses to improve protection. Several other start-ups are now competing to offer products to help parents keep tabs on their kids.
Ultimate HDTV HD Television Buying Guide
The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is smaller than in recent years, but it's still where the world takes stock of what's coming in consumer electornics and technology. And obscure acronyms -- the valued shorthand of geekdom -- seem especially prevalent as new tehcnologies roll out. Here are five new technologies and getting a big push this year ...
Rise of Miniature Medical Robots: Fantasy Fast Becoming Reality
Gaia Vince and Clare Wilson
The surgeons of tomorrow will include tiny robots that enter our bodies and do their work from the inside, with no need to open patients up or knock them out. While nanobots that swim through the blood are still in the realm of fantasy, several groups are developing devices a few millimeters in size.
Flying Under the Influence of the TSA
I won't insult you by repeating the obvious advice being dispensed by the so-called experts, such as arriving at the airport early or packing light. Instead, I'd like to take a longer view on traveling while under the influence of the TSA. Assuming that only half of the awful things people are saying about the agency are true, how do you fly?
Over the last few years, there's been a revolution in long-distance communication that makes it easier and cheaper than ever for travelers to stay in touch. Take your laptop or netbook to Europe, hook up to a fast Internet connection, and you can talk to people around the world -- for free.
(c) 2009 U.S. News & World Report