The Big Game is just a few weeks away, so what better time than now to make sure you have the best flat screen TV and setup? Whether you’re a hardcore football fanatic or you mostly like watching the Big Game for the commercials, there are some upgrades and changes you can make to your entertainment system for a better viewing experience.
Score the best TV
If you’re in the market for a new HDTV, here’s a quick and dirty tutorial. The three types of flat screens are Plasma, LCD, and LED. Plasma TVs generally range in size from 42 to 65 inches, whereas LED and LCD TVs come in a wider array of sizes– most commonly in the 19-inch to 80-inch range. So this might be something to consider; if you’re looking for a huge home theater screen, or are restricted to one that’s smaller than 42 inches, LCD or LED would be the way to go.
When watching sports, or anything else that’s high action, you want to make sure you still get a clear picture. Plasma TVs perform exceptionally well in the area of on-screen motion, delivering images that are crisp with almost no lag. However, LCD and LED TVs that have a high refresh rate (120Hz or 240Hz) can basically eliminate motion blur too.
Another important factor to consider is that LED TVs consume less energy than Plasma TVs (LCD follows close behind LED), because they use LEDs as their light source. However, Plasma TVs typically have better black levels and contrast ratios for a more lifelike picture.
Don’t pass on calibration
To get the most out of your new TV, you’ll want to make sure that it’s properly calibrated. In order to do this, start by making sure that the room is as close to normal lighting (of when you usually watch it) as you can get. Then you can start to play around with the settings in order to get the optimal picture.
The brightness/contrast setting affects how bright or dim your picture appears. For daytime viewing, you’ll want to adjust this higher, because your HDTV will be fighting against ambient light — a lower setting will make it appear dim and washed out. If you’re adjusting it for night viewing, set it lower. A brighter setting at night will make the TV appear too bright, and can cause eye fatigue.
Color affects how intense particular colors appear on your screen, and for most flat screen TVs, it’s divided into 3 different sliders: red, green, and blue. This is because most HDTVs use those three colors in their cells, allowing you to manipulate how they appear. While there’s loads of theory about how to best use this TV calibration setting, I’ve found the easiest way is to find something you know should be white and something you know should be black in a scene, and adjusting until both of them look correct.
Sharpness will make images appear more defined, but be careful with this setting because its primary function can be a double-edged sword. For HD images, this setting makes for better viewing since there’s more information in the image, but if you’re watching a standard definition picture with a fairly high setting, it can just make the image appear more pixellated.