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Avoiding the Scam

Posted by AlienCG on November 3, 2008

Last month I took the plunge into the world of High-Definition TV.  I bought a 37″ 1080p LCD flat-panel TV for my basement (it’s a rec room for those that don’t know).  My old 27″ CRT was on its last tube and ready to die, so I figured it was as good a time as any.  I am going to try to answer some questions that often get asked when talking about high-definition TV.  This isn’t an expert guide or anything close to professional, but simply some helpful advice.

How are the screen size and ratio determined?
The screen size is simply a diagonal measure from corner to corner.  This measurement will usually be the viewable area of the screen, but some computer monitors may use the physical measurement and give the viewable area in parentheses.

Screen ratio refers to how the picture is displayed.  4:3 is the screen ratio for a standard tube TV or CRT.  This means that for every 4 inches of horizontal length you will have 3 inches vertically.  16:9 is the standard for high-definition TV.  This makes it possible for theatrical features to appear on the full screen and not have as much black area.

720p or 1080p?
This is the overall screen resolution (how the picture looks).  Simple advice here:  The more pixels, the better.  The price difference has narrowed enough that 1080p is more affordable.  If you can, wait until after the Christmas season and buy your TV then.  Most likely the deals will be pretty darn good.

I bought a TV and have HD cable, do I really need to spend up to $150 on a cable?
DO NOT BUY ANY CABLE FROM A RETAIL OUTLET!!!  Don’t make me repeat that.  Retailers are taking advantage of the less learned and claiming that you need an HDMI or Component cable to get the best picture.  Truth: No you do not.  Any RCA cable will do for component purposes (red, white and yellow A/V cable).  Make sure that you keep the plg ends the same or you will have a pretty funky looking picture.  If you really want an HDMI cable, go through cablesforless.com or monoprice.com (or any other online seller).  I bought 3 HDMI cables for under $7 each.  If the associate at the electronic appliance store tells you that the cable they sell for $40 to $150 is better quality, walk out.  Unless you’re running that cable 25-feet or more, quality makes no difference.

I really can’t afford an HDTV at the moment, will I still be able to watch after February 2009?
If you have cable, yes, no matter what.  Again, If the associate at the electronic appliance store tells you that you need an HDTV or a converter box after February 2009, regardless if you have cable or not, walk out.  Cable, whether through the box or straight from the wall, will allow you to watch on any type of TV, plain and simple.

I hope this helps you out.  HDTV is very nice when you can enjoy it in all its glory.  If your cable or satelite company offers HD service, get it.  If not, get an HD antenna (normally just any antenna) and hook it up to receive the HD feeds.  Have a good day.

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4 Responses to “Avoiding the Scam”

  1. NoRegrets said

    But there are some things I’ve heard you don’t want to see in HD. Like…um…McCain’s face? It’s not an anti-republican comment, it’s just harsh reality…

  2. churlita said

    Thanks for the info. If I ever got to buy one, I will revert back to this, for sure.

  3. babybull40 said

    Those are helpful hints.. We bought a 32 inch LCD Flatscreen (weighs 60 lbs) 3 yrs ago for what we thought was a deal.. it was for it’s time, but now I’ve noticced that similar t.v’s are even cheaper now.. but we do love our t.v and wouldn’t give it up..it’s great for watching movies..

  4. laura b. said

    You have given us some good, clear advice. If I am ever able to move up in the tv world, this will definitely come in handy.

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