The cutting edge in HDTV
By Marshall Brain
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) This year I was able to attend CES 2008, also known as the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is the place where every electronics manufacturer in the world comes to show their stuff to the U.S. Market. By attending CES, you get to see everything that is available, plus a lot of stuff that will become available over the coming year.
To say that CES is gigantic is an understatement. It fills the 80-acre Las Vegas Convention Center, and then spills over into several other venues. It easily covers more than 100 acres. To put that into perspective, imagine the biggest Super Wal-Mart you've ever seen. That's about four acres. Now imagine 25 of those huge spaces filled to the gills with the latest electronic stuff from the thousands of companies. That is CES.
One of the biggest product categories this year is HDTV. And that makes sense - An HDTV is a big-ticket item and millions of them will be sold in the United States this year. Every manufacturer you've ever heard of was at CES with dozens of HDTV models: Toshiba, Hitachi, Sharp, Sanyo, HP, Samsung, Sony, LG, Olevia, Panasonic, Polaroid, Westinghouse and 100 other companies.
The really funny thing about looking at hundreds of new HDTVs from all these companies is that the message is clear: Last year's stuff is no good. You need to buy the latest, greatest stuff if you want to be a cool, hip HDTV owner. So let's explore what the ultimate HDTV looks like today.
First of all, any cool HDTV must have 1080p resolution. This measurement tells you how many dots (or pixels) there are on the HDTV's screen. 1,920 x 1,080 dots is the most possible with HDTV, and a 1080p screen has that many dots. Many (probably most) of the HDTVs that you see in the showroom right now only have 1,366 x 768 pixels.
Next you need to think about the refresh rate. Most HDTVs in the showroom refresh the screen 60 times per second (also known as 60 hertz). The latest HDTVs refresh 120 times a second. To do this, the HDTV looks at the video signal coming in, which is refreshing at 60 hertz. It then looks at two of the images 1/60th of a second apart, and the HDTV creates a new frame between them and displays it. The TV essentially invents every other frame to display 120 frames per second. It really is quite amazing that TVs now have enough computing power to do that, but they do.
Next you have to consider the contrast ratio. Most HDTVs in the showroom today have a contrast ratio of something like 2,000:1 or 4,000:1. The latest HDTVs have a contrast ratio greater than 10,000:1. A high contrast ratio means whiter whites, blacker blacks and more vibrant colors in between.
The latest TVs have narrow bezels. The bezel is the frame around the screen itself. Less than an inch of bezel is now considered to be cool. A width greater than 1 inch is passe. The size of the bezel has a practical benefit too - a bigger screen can fit into a smaller space. The same thing goes for the TV's thickness. Some "flat screens" are as much as 6 inches thick. The latest screens are 2 inches thick or less.
Finally, your TV needs to have three or four HDMI connectors, and they must be version 1.3 of HDMI to be cool.
So there you have it: the latest, coolest HDTVs are 1080p, 120 hertz, high contrast ratio, narrow bezel and 2 inches thick with four HDMI version 1.3 connectors.
As I say, this is the message that manufacturers are pushing this year. But the fact is, unless you are comparing them side by side, 1,366x768 pixels really looks pretty good and there is not a huge difference between that and 1,920 x 1,080. The same goes for a 3,000:1 contrast ratio and 60 hertz. So the choice is yours. You can buy the latest, greatest HDTV, or you can save a thousand dollars or two by buying last year's technology. It will still look good.
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