A thin TV set that uses an LCD or plasma display technology. Most flat panel TVs are wide-screen, high-definition sets (HDTVs) that have 720p resolution if under 40" and 1080p if larger. They also may accept output from a computer and serve as a monitor (see flat panel display).|
LCD Vs. Plasma
LCD and plasma are the two primary technologies used in flat panel TVs. The major differences between them are glare, weight, power consumption and color quality. For a summary, see LCD vs. plasma.
The HD Resolutions
The highest-resolution HDTV is 1080p (1,080 progressive scan lines), while TV and cable channels broadcast in 720p and 1080i, the lower HD resolutions. As yet, there are no broadcasts in 1080p; however, Blu-ray discs are 1080p. Blu-ray provides the sharpest resolution, although 720p and 1080i content is quite good and often not that easy to tell the difference. For resolution details, see HDTV and progressive scan.
HD Versus SD - What Will You Watch?
If you plan to watch mostly HD channels, any HDTV set you like in the showroom should work well. However, if you plan on watching VHS tapes, standard DVDs, old movies or TV shows on cable that are not in high definition, all HDTVs are not the same. The better set upconverts and stretches old movies from their original square format (4:3) to the TV's wide screen (16:9) and higher resolution so that they look as good as they did on an analog CRT TV. That may sound strange, but analog TVs were engineered for one format, and only one format was delivered.
If you plan on watching a lot of SD content, ask to view SD channels before buying. Showroom TVs are always displaying HD, and if all the TVs accept the same signal, sales reps may be very reluctant to switch every TV to SD. Quite often, a Blu-ray animated cartoon is running because Blu-ray is the highest resolution (1080p), and cartoons have highly saturated colors that look more dazzling.
Size Makes a Difference
There is an enormous amount of complex processing that takes place within the set, and the larger the screen, the more jagged edges, pixelation and other visual artifacts are noticeable. It takes a high-quality 60" TV to look as good as any 32" set (see deinterlace, cadence correction and dynamic noise reduction).
HD Ready and HD Built In
"HD Ready" sets support one or all of the HDTV formats but have no built-in tuner. A set-top box from a cable or satellite company is required. "HD Built In" means that the TV has an HD tuner and can receive HD signals from an antenna.
Although all flat panel TVs can be wall mounted, models 40" and above require a strong support. The wall bracket must be bolted into the studs of sheetrock and plaster walls by an experienced installer. See HDTV display modes, upconvert, aspect ratio, Blu-ray, home theater and rear-projection TV.