The Beginner’s Guide to Flat-Screen TVs

The Beginner’s Guide to Flat-Screen TVs

Searching for a new flat screen? Don’t let all the specs and acronyms overwhelm you. Here are four features you should pay attention to—and one that really doesn’t matter.


Seeing as plasma TVs have been declared dead, you’re probably going to be choosing between an LCD and an LED TV. In general, LEDs are more energy-efficient, more advanced technologically, and more expensive. LEDs also have a slight edge in picture quality. Another thing to consider: Will you be using the TV mostly for gaming? If so, opt for an LCD, which has less of a chance of screen burn-in—aka permanent discoloration caused by prolonged display of text or graphics—in the long run.


How big or how small? That depends on the size of the room, the number of people who will usually be watching it, and how far away they’ll be sitting. Luckily, SIMPLR has already tackled this issue: Shoot for a 32-inch (or larger) model for a bedroom or kitchen and 50 inches and up for a room that’s used for entertaining. And click on over to that previous post to learn the best screen sizes for minimum and maximum viewing distances.


In terms of resolution, experts recommend 1080 HD or higher, also known as full HD. A newer form of technology, called ultra HD or 4K, is gaining popularity—it’s got four times the number of pixels (3840 x 2160 versus HD’s 1920 x 720). While there are few movies and TV shows currently available in the 4K format (meaning you’ll be watching “upscaled” HD content instead), Tom’s Guide notes that ultra HD models are supplanting regular ol’ HDTVs and prices are already coming down, making them a solid investment for the future.


So you’ve finally decided on a flat-screen, set it up, and turned it on. The picture looks good, and the actual TV looks great in your home. But its sound is… less than stellar. It’s not your imagination: HDTV design is advancing, but HDTV sound isn’t. Luckily, a range of solutions is out there, from sound bars to stereo speaker systems to surround sound (either compact or component). Check out this guide from Crutchfield and find the one for your budget and lifestyle.


Seems like a lot of numbers to crunch, right? Here’s one spec you don’t really have to worry about: contrast ratio. Contrast—the different between the darkest black and the brightest white a panel can display—is not standardized, according to PC Mag, so there’s no real way to compare stats across brands. The experts add that as long as the ratio is five digits, you’re good.

One more thing: You gotta protect that fancy flat-screen you just bought! SIMPLR is here to help—learn more here.

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