LED TV, the wave of the TV future is here. After we all envied the people who upgraded to sexy flat panel plasmas for up to $20,000, along comes the Samsung LED TV and Sharp Quattron. Both of these screens are at prices normal people can afford and at eye popping sizes up to 50″ inches. Samsung Divides their LED TV’s into different series. There is a 6, 7 and the 8 series. The Series of the Samsung LED TV tells you two things, the feature set and the refresh rate.
To start out, LED TVs use about 20% less electricity that similar LCD TV’s, and about 35% less than a Plasma. An LCD TV uses a fluorescent type bulb for the back light instead of the more energy efficient LED’s that an LED TV uses. Electrical savings usually means less heat. This is true of LED TV’s. The LED TV will give off much less heat than a similar plasma or LCD TV. Anyone remember the early plasmas with a row of fans across the back?
Another key feature and caution with the Samsung LED TV is the depth. At just 1.2 inches deep, these LED TV’s can be hung on the wall like a picture. The problem then becomes hiding the cord. How do you prevent the power plug from leaning the LED TV the wrong way? The folks at CoolToys have the answer.
The pros at CoolToys recommend the Leviton Recessed Entertainment Box or REB which is available online and at most hardware stores. The LED TV can sit over the Leviton Recessed Entertainment Box and all the wires can be stuffed in the box keeping the TV super flat on the wall.
They CoolToys Techs note that planning ahead requires the LED TV be there for the installation of the Leviton REB so the cord lines up with the opening and it is still hidden by the LED TV. The bracket should be the open rail style, not the flat metal panel type. The flat metal panel may end up covering your outlet.
Another pro trick the guys at CoolToys let us in on was painting the REB. Black is the easy color since most of the cords are black. The white plastic of the REB can be seen behind the LED TV if the wall happens to have a door nearby. We still can’t figure out why Leviton makes it in white. Painting the REB the same color as the wall before hanging the LED TV is another option if you want to have a really finished look to show nosey neighbors and envious friends. If you don’t have any wall paint left, a $3.00 can of black spray paint can really hide the Leviton REB in the shadows behind your flat panel quite well.
Since many of the new LED TV’s are so thin and light a single person can easily hang up to a 40″ LED TV, and larger guys can usually hang up to a 46″ LED TV on their own if they are very careful. Any bigger, buy a friend a drink. These new LED TV’s aren’t heavy, they are just awkward to hold when you get the big bad 55″ or 60″ LED TV. Because they are thin, they can be twisted or bumped easily. That expensive extended warranty doesn’t cover your knee smashing the screen. Roy at CoolToys says he has seen it happen more than once.
At 120hz, the entry level 6 series makes an excellent entry into the LED TV market until you decide to buy a fancy remote control. This is where all LED TV’s are not created equal. The 7 series is also a 120HZ LED TV giving you equal picture refresh rates with a slightly larger viewing angle.
The 8 Series LED TV from Samsung is the hottest ticket out there. Even though the remote doesn’t have discrete codes, they do exist so that smart remote can still do it’s magic. For the people with Crestron, we are sorry, there isn’t a control port on these LED TV’s just yet. Maybe next year.
So if you haven’t upgraded to a flat panel, now is a great time.
Editors Update Jan 2012:
The Samsung line has moved into 3D and Sharp has launched the new 60″, 70″ and 80″ flat panel TV’s with Quattron pixels for better color and the new 3D models are out, there are a few more things to know. Almost all TV’s are 120HZ now which is great for all but the most addicted sports fans and gamers. 240hz is available in just about every new model and 3D TV. There are some very cool tools for running wires by labor saving devices now too.
CoolToys added an open back universal bracket to the website recently, this is the type they recommend. Don’t trust any models with built in levels. Get a real level if you want a professional looking installation. Also make sure you bolt to studs in the wall. Use a stud finder if you have one.
Finally, there is the issue of calibration. If you can find the blue glasses, any DVD that has THX certification on the spine includes the THX optimizer. This is an excellent tool to get 80% of the calibration the pros charge hundreds of dollars for. Monster also has a Calibration DVD as well that is even better. The truth is, even when the TV is calibrated the device sending the signal could send a bad signal. Calibrating it yourself will help you understand how the controls like brightness, contrast and color work so you can tweak each device to your liking.
Editors Note April 2019: There are now flat panels up to 85″ at all of the big box stores. If you go that big our techs recommend going with 4K and looking for discrete power. After that they are all pretty darn good.
Let us know how your installation goes, and if there is anything else you would like to know.