Television Technology

Winter 2004 CSANews Issue 53  |  Posted date : May 16, 2007.Back to list

I've lived in Toronto since I was five and, until recently, I have always had a CRT (cathode ray tube) television. My last television was a 32" Sony which I proudly purchased from The Bay 10 years ago. Well it was time for a new set and I wanted to stick with Sony. I built my television into the wall of our family room and had an opening that I had to consider with each set I looked at. I decided to purchase the new Sony 36" High Definition CRT set.

Here's a little something I discovered in my search. I could pay approximately $2,300 Cdn for the set in Toronto retail locations, or I could go to Buffalo and purchase the same unit for $1,049 US...so we packed up the SUV and decided to make a day of it.

Long story short...we went to Best Buy in Buffalo and asked to purchase the set. They promptly brought a brand-new unit out on a...forklift? No wonder. It weighed more than 270 pounds...NO SALE.

Not wanting to waste our trip, we ended up purchasing a 43" Samsung HDTV rear-projection television for, I couldn't believe it, $810 US. The picture with my new digital cable service is excellent.

For the past 75 years, cathode ray tubes have monopolized the market. They produce crisp, vibrant images, but they do have a serious weight issue (see above). CRT screens -generally top out at 40" (101 cm for you Canadians) and, at that size, they are huge and heavy (again, see above).

Here is some of the low-down on television technology to help you when you are making your next home entertainment purchase.

Plasma TVs
Plasma TVs are not TVs in the traditional sense. They are more like monitors. Plasma displays are digital and have higher resolutions than CRTs. When shopping for plasma TVs, it's important to note that not all plasma displays can produce the full resolution of HDTV. Some plasma TVs are considered EDTVs (enhanced-definition TVs), with a resolution of 852x480. On the higher end ($10,000 to $20,000), there are full-blown high-definition plasma TVs capable of a dazzling 1365x768 resolution. At 3" thick, they bring a new dimension to viewing in smaller spaces. Their biggest drawback is the susceptibility to burn-in (damage done to a TV screen as a result of the long display of a static image). Oh yeah...and price.

Flat Panel: LCD
LCDs are larger versions of your laptop computer screen. LCDs win for slim, coming in at almost an inch thinner than plasma, but are limited to about 40 inches in screen size. They are more than big enough for smaller rooms and are getting more attractive as their prices continue to fall.

Rear-Projection: CRT
Rear-projection TVs (RPTVs) are great if you are considering a large-screen TV (40 inches and greater). The basic idea of RPTVs is to combine a projector and a screen into one box. The projector casts the image on the rear of the screen. You see the image when you look at the screen head-on. These give you the biggest screen size for the buck, have excellent picture quality and black levels, and boy, have their prices been taking a nose dive. They are comparatively inexpensive. And à la my purchase, can weigh as little as 80 lbs for a 43" set. And now for the bad – they can't be viewed in bright light, have a narrow viewing angle and are hard to maintain, so get the extended warranty.

Rear Projection: DLP
DLP (digital light processing) projectors work by manipulating thousands of tiny mirrors on a semiconductor chip. Colour is generated by shining a light through a rotating colour wheel that has red, green and blue. The now-coloured beam hits the semiconductor chip to create the image used for projection. Wow...my niece purchased one for her new home and...wow! These have an excellent picture, require no maintenance, are only about 12" deep and are capable of displaying HDTV at full resolution. Once more...wow!

And here is an example of prices going down: last year, the Samsung 42" DLP rear projection set retailed for $4,000 Cdn.; this year, you can pick it up for $2,700 Cdn. What a deal!

HDTV
When you read and hear people talking about digital television (DTV), what they are talking about is the transmission of pure digital television signals, along with the reception and display of those signals on a digital TV set. The digital signals might be broadcast over the air or transmitted by a cable or satellite system to your home. In your home, a decoder receives the signal and uses it, in digital form, to directly drive your digital TV set. HDTV has lifelike pictures and digital sound. The higher resolution produces clarity like you have never seen from a picture tube. Films retain their original width, enhancing your home theatre experience. Imagine seeing more of a football field or a scenic panorama!

Take a look at the HDTV technology on any of projection, DLP, LCD or plasma units and you will want nothing else. If you're in the market and, very importantly, if you're purchasing in the U.S., you will get excellent value with this choice. You can even purchase LCD sets for as little as $600 US. I have my 43" projection television, a Rogers digital television service with the HD package and as I said above...wow!

As I am out of space here (darned editors)...go to the Web to get more information and details on HDTV technology.