• Choosing the Right TV

    Here's what to look for when choosing your display.

    Choosing the Right TV

    When choosing your TV, consider the display type (LCD or plasma), the display or screen size, and the resolution.

    Display Type

    Flat-panel displays are by far the most popular. Usually your choice will come down to LCD or plasma. Both are great, but they're not identical.

    LCD displays are: 

    • Generally thinner, lighter, and more energy-efficient (greener)
    • Available in a greater range of sizes
    • Brighter, an advantage for daytime watching

    Plasma displays offer:

    • Smoother motion, particularly good for sports
    • Wider viewing angle with a bigger "sweet spot"

    You might also consider a front projector if you have a big-enough room (and budget). A front projector: 

    • Provides the biggest—and often best—picture
    • Is best suited for a larger room that you can make nearly totally dark
    • Absolutely requires a screen; don't project onto a wall

    One disadvantage: the projector plus installation plus screen can be very expensive. 

    Display Size

    Take your room dimensions into account, then get the biggest set you're comfortable watching. Popular home theater sizes go from 37 inches to more than 60 inches. 

    • Don't sit too close. If you can see the individual pixels, you're too close.
    • See the general guidelines on the best viewing distance. 

    Resolution

    We recommend 1080p resolution, generally called "full HD," to get the full benefit of the best entertainment sources.

    In computer-monitor language, a 1080p display has a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels. A 720p HD display corresponds to 1280 × 720 pixels.

    Home Theater Connections

    Almost every display has a variety of connection options. Here are the most common.

    HDMI

    HDMI® provides the best and simplest way to connect your TV to your home theater: 

    • One-cable connection between components
    • Ability to carry video and multichannel audio

    The more HDMI connections you have, the better.We recommend at least three for a TV display.

    Component Video

    • Three-cable alternative to HDMI for high-definition video
    • For connections to older components (some set-top boxes, for example)
    • Uses RCA connectors

    Composite Video

    • Single-cable connection for standard-definition (SD) video
    • Needed for many legacy components, such as VCRs
    • Uses RCA connectors

    Digital Audio

    • Also called S/PDIF, carries Dolby® Digital signal
    • For components without HDMI
    • Uses optical (Toslink™) or coaxial (RCA) connector; coaxial preferred

    Analog Audio

    • Conventional stereo connection
    • For connecting to older stereo-only audio components
    • Uses RCA connectors

    F-Type

    • Threaded connector
    • For connecting to external antenna or analog cable service (with no set-top box)

    USB

    • For computer input  

    Ethernet 

    • For Internet-enabled TVs

     

    3D Television 

    3D is a hot topic in home entertainment. Retail ads don't provide much detail, so here's some background. 

    What to Expect from 3D HDTV 

    • Stunning pictures 
    • Available on plasma and LCD displays 
    • Most 3D-ready displays are excellent for 2D as well 

    Some 3D HDTV Considerations 

    • Limited program choices (at the moment) 
    • No broadcast standards yet 
    • Narrow viewing angle for 3D effect 
    • Special glasses needed for most displays 

    3D Technologies 

    Three types of 3D displays are currently available: 

    • Displays using active-shutter glasses create separate left- and right-eye full-resolution versions of each image. The glasses are synchronized to these images. 
    • Displays that work with passive glasses create two half-resolution simultaneous polarized images, which your eyes perceive as one full-resolution 3D picture. 
    • Displays requiring no glasses, called autostereoscopic displays, also use a polarizing technique and a special filter as part of the screen. Check out Dolby 3D Glasses-Free 3D.

    Currently, sets using active-shutter glasses generally offer the best performance. The glasses-free approach is in its infancy. 

    Keep in mind that 3D technologies are evolving rapidly on all fronts. Check out a couple of 3D TVs with Dolby technology: the Toshiba® 55WX800U Cinema Series® 3DTV and the Toshiba 55VX700U Cinema Series TV.   

    What to Look For 

    Here are a few tips:  
    • Pay close attention to a display's 2D picture quality—most of your viewing will be in 2D.  
    • Watch out for "ghosting" and other artifacts in 3D mode.  
    • Consider the comfort and fit of the 3D glasses.  

    All 3D requires HDMI 1.4 or later. Any equipment labeled "3D-ready" will have it, but if the signal is going through an A/V receiver, the receiver will also need HDMI 1.4.

    TV Size

    Look at your room, at where you'll be sitting, where you plan to put the display, and go from there. Our chart gives you a starting point, with minimum and maximum viewing distances for standard TV sizes. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, not absolute rules.

    TV Size

    Min Viewing Distance

    Max Viewing Distance

    26 in

    3.3 ft

    6.5 ft

    30 in

    3.8 ft

    7.6 ft

    34 in

    4.3 ft

    8.5 ft

    42 in

    5.3 ft

    10.5 ft

    47 in

    5.9 ft

    11.8 ft

    50 in

    6.3 ft

    12.5 ft

    55 in

    6.9 ft

    12.8 ft

    60 in

    7.5 ft

    15 ft

    65 in

    8.1 ft

    16.2 ft

    TV Tips: LED, LCD, and Internet TVs 

    Lots of jargon and claims accompany the available information on HDTV displays. Here are some clear explanations of various features and considerations you will encounter. 

    LED or LED-LCD TV 

    This refers to the type of backlight used for LCD TVs. For years, LCD screens used fluorescent (CCFL) backlights. Now LED backlights are gaining popularity. 

    Compared to CCFLs, LEDs:  

    • Are more energy-efficient 
    • Can deliver brighter and more consistent light 
    • Allow local dimming 

    Local dimming creates a backlight image in sync with the LCD screen. This allows purer blacks, better detail resolution, and a wider dynamic range—which add up to a better image. 

    Display Calibration 

    Most displays are set up at the factory to look their best on a wall in a retail store. They're too bright and too blue. The display will often look a lot better in your home if it's calibrated after setup. Sometimes the store will do this for you, either for free or for a relatively small fee. 

    Otherwise, you have three choices for calibration:  

    •  Most basic: Use one of the TV's built-in "modes." (See your owner's manual.) 
    •  Better: Use a calibration disc (cost: about $25, plus an hour of your time). 
    •  Best, but expensive: Hire a calibration specialist. 

     Internet TV 

    The vast majority of HDTV sets now include an Ethernet connection and portals to popular streaming services. For a home theater, however, you may get better results connecting to the Internet through a different component. See Streaming, Online, and Broadcast Programs.