Basic Types of Televisions

Tubes, flat panel, and projection

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Buying a television can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re looking for. From tubes to plasma, there are more models on store shelves than covers of magazines. Before exploring analog versus digital, SDTV, HDTV, and EDTV, take a look at the types of televisions in today’s consumer market. Here’s a list of televisions types you’ll see in stores across North America.

Direct View - Tube

Also known as direct view, a tube television is the closest thing to the one baby boomers watched when they were kids. The pictured device is a cathode ray tube, which is a specialized vacuum tube. All science aside, CRTs come in all shapes and sizes up to about 40-inches. They feature a good picture from all angles, the best black level, and are significantly lower in price than other TVs. Despite their bulky and heavy build, tube televisions are long-lasting and acclaimed for retaining a good picture throughout its lifespan, which can be decades.

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

Digital Light Processing was invented in 1987 by Texas Instruments. It is named for its ability to process light digitally with the aid of an optical semiconductor called a Digital Micromirror Device or DMD chip. The DMD chip is comprised of over one million mirrors. The size of each mirror is less than 1/5” the width of a human hair. Currently, over fifty manufacturers produce at least one model of a DLP television. DLP's come in rear and front projection. They are not susceptible to burn-in, but some people do notice a glitch called Rainbow Effect.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)

Whether it's flat panel or rear projection, there are a ton of choices on the market for LCD or Liquid Crystal Display televisions. Flat panel displays are by far the most popular LCD television because of their thin, lightweight construction, which is convenient for people who want to use their LCD as a TV and computer monitor. LCDs are not susceptible to burn-in. LCDs with slow response times can show a ghosting effect, while other LCDs can have a screen door effect. This is why it is important to see the LCD monitor before buying to see if the screen meets your needs.

Plasma Display Panels (PDP)

Plasma is the type of television most associated with high-end home electronics. This is mainly because they get a lot of marketing that tells us plasma has the best picture money can buy. All plasma televisions come in a flat panel variety. Most are sized in the 40-49" range. They are competitively priced against LCD flat panel televisions and feature a stunning picture that puts you in the middle of the action. Plasmas weigh more than LCD’s, but nothing additional supports couldn’t handle. They are susceptible to burn-in but despite rumors to the contrary, the gasses that power the picture can not be refilled. While they are too young to accurately measure, plasma televisions should last anywhere from 10-20 years.