All TV screens are flat these days and have a widescreen format of 16.9, which is the same ratio as a cinema screen. Screen sizes are typically in inches, measured on the diagonal.
There are two types of technology used for TV screens - plasma and LCD. Plasma TVs are generally considered a better choice for sizes above 46" (although LCD are catching up) and are excellent for watching fast moving sports and movies. LCD screens are lighter and slimmer than their plasma equivalents so ideal for wall mounting and they also use less energy. LED are basically superior LCD screens that use LED backlighting to create a sharper and more detailed picture. They are also ultra slim and light and can be hung on a wall by thin wire, almost like a painting.
For more information on the difference between LCD, LED and plasma click here
All new TVs now have an integrated digital Freeview tuner, and are an essential component for when the whole country switches to Digital from analogue in 2012. Freeview refers to the range of digitals channels available to view without subscription. A Freesat tuner is its HD equivalent and gives you access to subscription free HD channels content such as BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
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You'll be hard pressed to find a television on the market these days that isn't 'HD Ready'. This means that the TV is capable of showing high resolution images. However you cannot watch HD programmes unless you subscribe to a HD service with your satellite or cable provider or invest in a Freesat HD box, which allows you to watch free HD channels through a satellite dish. You can watch high definition movies if your TV is connected to a Blu-ray player.
Bringing the magic of 3D to the TV screen, 3D Ready TVs are the newest phenomenon in television viewing. While you do need to wear 3D glasses to watch and only a few programmes are made in 3D, these extraordinary TVs offer a great way to enjoy 3D movies and games.
DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance, consisting of a group of organisations including electronics manufacturers. TVs with this feature allow you to share data across your home network. This means you can hook up your TV to your computer, either wired or wirelessly to access video, pictures and music from your computer to view on your TV screen.
Probably the feature that will begin to change the way we watch TV forever, Smart TV refers to the technology that integrates the internet into the TV set. Smart TVs connect to the internet wirelessly or from Ethernet connection, and not unlike the latest tablet computers many models use a range of apps to provide direct access to a whole host of online services. For example, you can view catch-up TV services such as iPlayer, watch movies on demand from sites like LoveFilm, Skype your friends, Tweet, Facebook and instant message, plus watch clips from YouTube - all from your TV screen.
You can also stream music, video and pictures stored on your computer and other DLNA compatible devices, or transfer content via a USB port. Some Smart TVs also offer web browsing, giving you access to your favourite websites from the comfort of your armchair.
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There are other features referred to in TV specifications, such as refresh rates and contrast ratio. These determine picture quality but it can be confusing as they're often referred to differently depending on the type of screen or manufacturer. These factors can weigh heavily on how expensive a TV is.
Refresh rates are also known as Hz, which is a measurement for how many times a second something is refreshed. For example, if you have a 100Hz TV it will refresh the images on the screen 100 times a second. The higher the HZ, the less likely flickering will occur.