I’ll try to keep this short and sweet, since I get a time questions about TVs these days. Like everything else electronics televisions are changing faster than ever. I can’t imagine what’s next. I have seen some pretty cool things at the consumer electronics show, electronic House Expo and CEDIA.

You can find all kinds of articles about color contrast and lighting what comes televisions. But very rarely do the headlines cover the things that drive you nuts. Picture quality is so good nowadays the truth is it really doesn’t matter what type of technology you select. There are really only two things to consider when looking at the picture quality of the screen. The first is sitting distance, and you never want to be closer than two times the width of the screen otherwise you can see the flaws in the picture matter how good the TV.

Since the human eye can only see 1/60th of a degree of resolution, there is a limit to what we can process. The difference between 720 P. and 1080 P. is the difference between sitting at 1.57 times the screen width and 1.78 times the screen width. Sitting any closer than about twice the width of the screen increases fatigue and decreases the overall enjoyment of watching TV. For instance if you pick a 55 inch television it will be about 50 inches wide. That means you need to sit at 100 inches for normal television watching.

Runco TV
Runco TV’s, still assembled in the USA

If you built a complete custom theater and you might be able to sit as close as 1.5 times the width of the screen in the front row of a multirow theater. For normal everyday TV 2.0 rule works very well. The second thing to consider when looking at picture quality is off axis viewing. Lower-priced LCD and LED TVs will change color when you’re not looking at them straight on. When reviewing these TVs look down at them, look up at them and stand off to the side while looking at them. If the screen starts to turn black or the color fades look for another TV.

Finally there are two factors related to the TV itself. The first is smooth glass or non-reflective glass. TVs with non-reflective glass will be more expensive, and most of the time reflection problems can be cured with a tilt mount, and angling the TV slightly. Antiglare glass is always better but not always available. The last factor is the factor that drives custom audiovideo guys nuts. The cheap TVs don’t have discrete power. What discrete power means is a separate code to turn the TV on and off rather than just a code for “power”. The problem with TVs that just have power is simply their inability to take directions from an extensive custom remote. If you are going to spend somewhere between $100 and $6000 for a remote control why try to save a couple of dollars on a TV in and out of the headache? It’s a funny thing but people do it every day.
The four areas of consideration we just talked about, sitting distance, picture angle, the front glass and discrete power are the four areas that are important to custom installers and anyone else trying to create an easy to use video system. All of the TVs that we select for approval at www.cooltoys.tv have discrete power as a minimum requirement. We also look at off axis viewing for each of the sets. Sitting distance and the decision on reflective glass are up to you.

At the end of the day all of the TVs on our website will make an excellent addition to your high-tech home. The new LEDs are thinner and use less power than LCDs and plasmas. The plasmas use the most power, generate the most heat and that’s why you will see fewer and fewer on our website each week. The choice between LED and LCD when looking at high-quality sets such as those on www.CoolToys.TV comes down to price and energy usage. If you don’t mind spending the extra money and want the ultra cool look of the new ultrathin TVs and go LED. Either way the picture will be great.

Editors Note 2019 – TV has changed again with 4K, bringing cinema quality picture to the home and OLED. ┬áLess energy, more colour and deeper blacks.

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