The technology involved in the world of high definition television can look rather complicated to the untrained eye. Along with the constantly changing terminology used by marketers to describe these “bells and whistles,” consumers can feel about confused when trying to determine whether they will actually benefit from purchasing a set that includes the latest available features.
The most recent technological innovations are no exception. Though most are simply tweaks of technology which has existed in the industry for some time, some are more useful than others. Here are some of our thoughts on what’s new in the HDTV world and whether you should care.
SOUND: “When are they going to make a TV that sounds good?” We’ve heard that question so many times recently that we thought it best to address it here.
Imagine, if you will, a room full of speakers. These are powered by a great receiver with the latest decoding from stalwarts like DTS and Dolby. This “smart hub” of your system is capable of pumping loud, clean, expansive sound that comes at your ears in a cacophany of experience-changing audio pleasure because of it’s physical orientation which allows it to project sound from different locations in your room. Properly positioned, this type of setup is impossible to match by a single device in a single place. Existing technology (soundbars, soundbases etc…) are as yet incapable of replicating such an expansive and powerful audio experience.
What we are gaining from some HDTV manufacturers is the ability to take incoming sound and send it out to your receiver, or directly to your ears, in a way that improves in quality thanks to technology built in to the set. Again, even a lower price-range audio/video receiver can do this better.
OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) – Look for an explanation of this term and you’ll likely hear words that make your head spin. More important are the advantages of using it.
You’ve probably seen the term “backlight” in some form many times while shopping for an HDTV. OLED manages to achieve very good “black levels” without it. This means you don’t need to light the TV from the back, making it possible for the manufacturer to make their HDTV set thinner, all while still allowing for great contrast. AMOLED simply means that the technology is “Active,” and can turn pixels on and off as necessary, giving you a picture that looks “just right” as the picture on the screen changes from light to dark, bright to dull and so on…
Many televisions with this technology are receiving great reviews from experts, and you will pay more for this technology. In our opinion, it’s definitely worth a look. You’ll find it on some rather spectacular models from LG, Sony and Panasonic.
QLED: (Quantum Light Emitting Diode) – This one is a Samsung innovation which they’d like to spread. The idea here is to use the Quantum Dots to create enough color volume so that colors stay bright and beautiful even during super bright scenes with tons of colors.
Basically, this technology is meant to achieve two goals: Make for beautifully colorful sets and compete with LG’s OLED sets.
HTD: (Home Theater Display) – Is it a TV or something else? Of course, it’s a TV. But Vizio has caused a bit of confusion with this one.
What you’re getting with a “Home Theater Display” is basically an HDTV WITHOUT a built in digital TV tuner. This makes it inconvenient for folks who use their HDTV to simply add an antenna that allows viewers to simply plug in an inexpensive antenna to receive those signals. It offers no input for an antenna, and no tuner to decode the signal.
However, as Vizio offers specs comporable to more expensive brands at significantly lower prices than those leaders in HDTV technology, and with a large segment of the public getting their entertainment by streaming, whether the lack of antenna compatibility is a deal breaker is clearly up to the individual consumer.
Regardless of advances in technology, we frequently give our readers the most simple advice:
Head to a store and look at a TV. You can buy it there or somewhere else, but the important thing is to see some sets live and in person. Don’t just look at the picture the way it is in the store, as many sellers tweak the settings to make everything spectacular and model of picture perfection. Ask them to show you how the set streams, what it looks like when playing a Blu-Ray, and anything else you want to know. Though you can’t take it home, you can get a pretty good idea of whether YOU LIKE IT, which should always be your main concern.
Remember, you’re not there (or at least you shouldn’t be) to choose an HDTV to please your neighbor, or the seller, or one of those sites that intentionally tries to steer you toward a more expensive purchase than you probably should make. Choose your set by “trying” it (as much as is reasonable of course). Then shop around. In our view, the worst decision you can make in purchasing a new TV (or just about any high-end item) is to see it, then buy it on the spot. That’s rarely the most likely way to get a great HDTV deal.