Displays and Projectors : About to buy a new TV -need advice!

About to buy a new TV -need advice!

My TV that I've had for the last 10 years has finally given up and I'm having to buy a new one - I know nothing about HDTVs apart from what I've read , have never watched one so was hoping people out there who had them could give me any advice about the best makes and stuff?

The ones I'm looking at are all edge-lit LEDs between 22 and 32 inches as these are the ones inside the price range I can afford - the ones I've kind of focused on as possibilities are by Toshiba, LG, Samsung and Hitachi - I've never bought anything by these brands apart from Toshiba DVD players but does anyone recommend one that's particularly good?

Just to add, there's actually one TV I was looking at I just noticed is direct lit LED - is direct lit better/clearer?

One thing I find confusing is the idea of ' HD and HD ready '. Some full HD TVs by some of these brands are actually cheaper than HD ready TVs by other brands which makes me think there must be significant picture quality difference between brands - I thought I'd get a full HD TV rather than HD ready but I'm confused as to the point of the ' HD ready ' TVs when some full HD TVs are cheaper- was there a time when only HD ready TVs and not full HD TVs were available or something?

I've also read that the picture on HDTVs can look distorted and some kind of special setup or equipment is needed in addition to the actual TV to rectify it?Is it what a HDMI cable is needed for, or is that just to connect a Blu-Ray player? ( I might have got this completely wrong ) Would I have to buy a HDMI cable or something at the same time?

Also the ' refresh rate ' on some of the TVs is 50, and some 100. Am I right in thinking 100 = faster refresh rate, better picture?

Some of the TVs have Freeview under Tuner , others Freeview HD - if the TV is listed as full HD, I don't understand this difference - isn't everything automatically in HD on a HDTV?

Also - is the picture quality on DVDs actually better when a DVD player's connected to a HD TV - I might eventually get a Blu-Ray player but don't really want to as anything I want to see is available on DVD and I'm satisfied with DVDs but this was something I wondered

And are they complicated to setup? I wasn't sure whether to just have one delivered and then set it up myself or pay to have them set it up for me

I'd be extremely grateful for any advice anyone could give!

A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free

Re: About to buy a new TV -need advice!


The ones I'm looking at are all edge-lit LEDs...
Just to add, there's actually one TV I was looking at I just noticed is direct lit LED - is direct lit better/clearer?

In theory, direct illumination should be better. AFAIK none of the so-called LED sets (except for the expensive OLED sets) use one LED per pixel, so no matter what you have, there must be some method of optically spreading the illumination across the entire frame. No doubt each method has advantages and disadvantages. The best way to know which looks best is to look and see for yourself. If that's not an option, perhaps you can use Google to find reviews for the various models that you're considering. As a rule, I wouldn't assume that one way of illumination is better. I've seen some lovely side-illuminated sets.


One thing I find confusing is the idea of ' HD and HD ready '. ... I thought I'd get a full HD TV rather than HD ready but I'm confused as to the point of the ' HD ready ' TVs when some full HD TVs are cheaper...

Here in the US, "HD Ready" means that the set is capable of acting as a HD monitor, but doesn't ship with the RF tuners that could be used to tune in OTA or cable TV signals directly. However in Europe, "HD Ready" is a standard. The meaning is similar, essentially meaning that the tuner is an extra cost option. If you live in the UK or some other place where license fees are involved, you may be able to save a little money if you're using cable or DBS as your inputs and a video monitor doesn't need to be licensed...I'm guessing about that. The important thing is to choose "HD ready 1080p" if you do choose "HD ready", so your set is capable of full 1080p HD display. No 1080i or 720p sets! Full-HD at 1080p is what you want.


I've also read that the picture on HDTVs can look distorted and some kind of special setup or equipment is needed in addition to the actual TV to rectify it?Is it what a HDMI cable is needed for, or is that just to connect a Blu-Ray player? ( I might have got this completely wrong ) Would I have to buy a HDMI cable or something at the same time?

Standard HD TV sets use a native aspect ratio of 16:9, and most HD material is produced in a native 16:9 format, so there shouldn't be a problem. However if you're in an area that used to get PALplus (which used only 432 vertical lines, compared to the usual 576), your set might have problems with old PALplus programming that was improperly scaled up to HD. To muddy the waters further, some UK programming was shot in a "compromise" format of 14:9 that looks wrong on every display. But your set should know what to do with native HD content.

When it comes to cables, SCART may be an inexpensive alternative to HDMI. Technically and theoretically, HDMI should be better because it keeps everything in the digital domain. In the real world, you might be hard pressed to notice a difference, and even prefer SCART because HDMI includes HDCP, which can cause annoying blank-outs when switching sources or resolutions. If your primary concern is getting the picture to display correctly, HDMI is the way to go, but just barely.


Also the ' refresh rate ' on some of the TVs is 50, and some 100. Am I right in thinking 100 = faster refresh rate, better picture?

I know that lots of testing of computer monitors proved that refresh rates of 100Hz or greater did look better and reduce viewing fatigue with computers. And according to reviewers of TV sets, the 120Hz refresh rate here in the US looks better, but the 240Hz rate doesn't look noticeably better than 120Hz. So yes, a 100Hz set may well look much better than a 50Hz set! At 60Hz, the flickering is hardly noticeable, and is more noticeable at 50Hz. So doubling to 100Hz should be a big deal, and well worth the money.


Some of the TVs have Freeview under Tuner , others Freeview HD - if the TV is listed as full HD, I don't understand this difference - isn't everything automatically in HD on a HDTV?

Not all digital programming is HD, and some HD sets have the capability of taking pre-HD analog, either as a baseband video signal (from a VCR or DVD player, for instance), or a modulated RF signal from an analog channel on cable. So while you'll want to find native HD programing to watch on your new HD set, you can still view older pre-HD shows at lower resolutions.

Since the digital switchover in the UK in 2012, the old BBC, ITV, Channel 4 etc. over the air (OTA) stations are now digital, and if you still have a rooftop antenna, you can use Freeview to see the old OTA channels and more now in digital, and maybe even HD. Digital allows an HD channel and one or more SD channels (or lots of SD channels) to be multiplexed onto the same transmitter to create virtual TV channels. Here in the US, most OTA digital TV stations operate two or more SD channels in addition to the primary HD channel. Unlike in the US, there are some subscription channels in the UK, and you need a special tuner or decoder to get those. Other than that, it's free...aside from the television license.


Also - is the picture quality on DVDs actually better when a DVD player's connected to a HD TV

That depends on how good the signal processing circuits in your TV are. My very first HD TV set had a Faroudja DCDi chip in it that made SD content look spectacular. Newer sets that don't have DCDi don't make SD look as good. Even my spendy DVDO scaler doesn't make SD material look as good as my DCDi set did. My advice is to look for the Faroudja name if you want the best from your DVD player.


And are they complicated to setup? I wasn't sure whether to just have one delivered and then set it up myself or pay to have them set it up for me

I can't answer that one for you. I had no problems, but then again I'm a TV engineer, so I have that unfair advantage.

Re: About to buy a new TV -need advice!

The TV I ended up getting was the Samsung UE32F5000 32-inch full HD LED - I can't actually remember now but looking at the specifications again online, I think it's direct-lit and has a 100 refresh rate.
I was initially disappointed when I first started watching as the picture was very ' soft' and wavy, kind of - did eventually discover that the SD channels are just like this and the HD channels look a hundred times better! Unfortunately there are only 4 HD channels but these are the main ones - BBC1, etc. Are the HD channels on your TV numbered 101, etc? It seems bizarre to me that the HD channels are ' hidden ' like this , if I hadn't looked online, I would have been clueless that they were there in the 100 digits - am I stupid to have assumed that pressing 1 for BBC1 on a HDTV would automatically tune in the HD version of the channel that would be there INSTEAD of the old version? Do you know a way to rearrange the channels so 1 is BBC1HD, 2 is BBC2HD, etc.?
( Actually, the old TV that died a while back had better picture quality for the ' standard ' channels but like I said, the HD channels are miles better than the standard ones on that TV or this one )
I have a DVD player but it doesn't have a HDMI socket - have tried connecting it with the old Scart lead and the picture's pretty much the same as on the old TV
Eventually I suppose I'll get a Blu-Ray player, and I can play my DVDs on there in addition to newBlu-Ray discs - I have a HDMI cable, if I connect using that will the picture quality be as good as on the HD channels ? Not just on a BluRay disc, but on my DVDs?
And I managed to set up the TV myself in about 10 minutes when it did come

A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free

Re: About to buy a new TV -need advice!

Congratulations! I didn't want to try to influence your decision, but I've been using a Samsung for the longest, and am quite happy with it. I can give you all sorts of technical reasons why SD channels don't "pop" like the HD ones do, but the bottom line is that HD is better and that's why we have it. It wasn't long after I got a HD set that I realized that I wouldn't be satisfied with SD content ever again.


Are the HD channels on your TV numbered 101, etc?

No, ours are numbered to match their old NTSC channel numbers (with the added confusion of decimal subchannels), even though many of those stations have moved to a different frequency. We use a system called PSIP that sends a channel map to the TV. Here's an example:

In Chicago where I was living during our digital switchover, we had several channels, 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 20, 26, 32, 44, 60 and 66. After the switchover, we had 2.1, 2.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 7.1, 7.2, 9.1, 9.2, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, 20.1, 32.1,...and so on. (Some of the stations above Channel 32 merged or shut down.) So we ended up with about twice the number of virtual channels with less than half the number of transmitters after the old ones were shut down.

What we have is two similar but different logical approaches to the same technical problem.

It looks like what you have in the UK is to keep the old SD channels right where they were, and to put their HD versions 100 channels above, so that SD channel 1 matches HD channel 101, SD channel 2 matches HD channel 102 etc. I would guess that in the UK you have more people who had invested in widescreen CRT sets that supported the old PALplus format, and that most of what Freeview offers is a signal that's compatible with older TV sets, while the terrestrial broadcasters in the US have opted to drop all SD versions of their original signal, and instead used their new multiplexed SD channels to offer new services. Here, as a general rule, the HD channel is x.1, and the successive decimal channels (.2, .3 etc.) are as a rule SD, 4:3 aspect ratio channels. One benefit to the decimal system is that, under some circumstances, you can get to the primary HD channel simply be entering the channel number alone.

I see that in the UK, most of your SD channels are 16:9. That's a major difference! The US has no widescreen SD (that I've seen), no text or audio-only services on over the air TV channels.

The way I understand it, the UK has 4 transmitter sites that handle all radio and TV broadcasting for the entire kingdom. Here in the US the area is vast, and because we never had nationalized radio or TV, every city has its own set of TV stations, and the main technical worry is not interfering with the channels being used in surrounding cities. For example I currently live in Madison, Wisconsin, about 150 miles from Chicago. Our local NBC affiliate, WMTV is on logical channels 15.1, 15.2 15.3, and are actually transmitted on RF channel 19, which is the same frequency that Chicago independent station WGN-TV (9.1, 9.2) also operates on (19). Clear as mud, right? It also interferes with TV stations in 4 other cities. It's an engineering nightmare that just happens to keep more people like me employed.

According to Wikipedia, you're due to get more HD channels soon:

Some ten additional feeds, whereof five more HD feeds, are expected for the first half of 2014, and up to 10 new HD channels are planned to be launched later in 2014, from a new group of multiplexes awarded to Arqiva.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeview_%28UK%29


Do you know a way to rearrange the channels so 1 is BBC1HD, 2 is BBC2HD, etc.?

I don't know a way that would be easy and inexpensive. My advice is to learn to enter the "100" prefix, just as we in the US are learning to enter the decimal-1 suffix in order to see the HD channels. In the UK you are blessed to have an electronic programme guide (EPG) that's part of your system. It's free, and from what I've read, it actually works. In the US we have no free EPG service, and companies like TiVo and cable providers must purchase that data from the same company that runs WGN-TV, and the data is often very faulty. From where I sit, pressing a 1 and a 0 in order to get to the HD channel is a very reasonable price to pay for the well-sorted Freeview service.


I have a HDMI cable, if I connect using that will the picture quality be as good as on the HD channels ? Not just on a BluRay disc, but on my DVDs?

A DVD has less video data on it, so nothing can make it look equal to a true HD video. There is no way to restore information that was never there to begin with. It's popular to use interpolation to "fill in the blanks" between the fewer SD scan lines and the finer HD scan lines, but as you have noticed, this just makes the picture look "soft", almost blurry. Some video processors use tricks like edge enhancement (your Samsung set should have it, so give it a try) to give the illusion of more detail. But the bottom line is still that you can't actually improve the detail on a DVD. It never was there, and never will be.

Your real choice is to get used to it, or find more HD programming. In that respect, HDTV is a lot like crack; once you get hooked, there's no going back! "Join us...JOIN US!!!"
Top