We are NOT a retailer. We are an AV Electronics Integrator, fancy name for a Home Technology contractor. That said, we sell TVs and other electronics as a means to an end. We design a system based on what you want and then identify the components that would fit those needs. If you want to stream movies off your computer, we are going to discuss a TV that allows you to do so. If you want a TV for the guest room and only want to connect it to your cable, then we aren’t going to recommend a TV that has extra internal functions that you would pay hundreds of dollars more for.

We know the prices of TVs on Amazon, Best Buy, HH Gregg, etc., so when we quote TVs and other store/internet electronics, we quote a price that is competitive to them. Is it the same? No. There is a chance our TV may cost a little more. We include a small mark up to cover our costs to order, receive (which can even mean driving to the distributor in Maryland for larger TVs), and bring the TV to you on installation day. If you ask us why our TV is $100 more than the one on Amazon, we will not lie. We will tell you it is a convenience cost. This is no different than if you bought milk at a 7-11 vs. a warehouse club store.

If you want to buy your own TV, by all means, buy it. I repeat, we are NOT a retailer, you will not hurt our feelings. We want to be the company you use to install the TV and perhaps other electronics that go with it to create your custom entertainment system. If you don’t need the convenience of us getting your TV, then you may not need to buy electronics from us either. But please, keep in mind that we do get good pricing too, so don’t automatically think we can’t price as well a big box or warehouse store.

So, now that we’ve told you our deep, dark secret about how we price TVs, we want to give you a cheat sheet to take with you when you go TV shopping to ensure you are getting the “right” TV. Print and clip the next section of this newsletter & take it with you when you go shopping or have it ready for your Internet purchases.

LED vs. LCD vs. Plasma – From a display panel perspective, LCD & LED are the same. The difference is what provides the lighting behind the panel. Standard LCDs use a compact fluorescent light (CFL) which is either on or off. TVs with LEDs for the backlighting have the ability to dim the LEDs to create darker scenes (i.e. you get dark black with an LED vs. a lighter black, almost grey on an LCD). Plasma TVs are a tried & true technology that uses a different panel construction that allows for a wider range of color creation and truer creation of black. Plasma displays use glass on the front of the panel so glare can be a problem depending on where you are putting it.

720, 1080, 4096 – These numbers all have to do with image quality. Think of them like you would a camera. Camera #s are based on pixel count which is how many tiny blocks of color/image are used to capture an image. Obviously a 5 megapixel camera takes a better picture than an old 1 megapixel camera. In choosing which TV to get, consider the size of the TV. There is no reason not to choose a 720 model on a smaller TV because of its size. However, when you are looking at a larger TV, i.e. 50″ plus, there is a noticeable difference in the picture between a 720 and 1080 TV. By the way, the 4096 is the new 4K TV. Be sure to take a look at one at retailers that are selling them. They are at the introductory stage of technology and the pricing reflects that, but the image is unbelievable. Think of a 2 mega pixel camera image (1080) vs. an 8 mega pixel camera image (4K).

i vs p – This is how the image is painted on the screen, p is what almost all HD Flat Panel TVs use today. The technical description is too complex to briefly explain. If you come across a “deal” on a TV that is 1080i, then stay away from it.

Refresh rate – given in Hz. The higher the number the better the quality, but be aware that most manufacturers have created their own marketing name for the refresh rate, i.e. Samsung uses something called “Clear Motion rate” which is their own proprietary calculation for the clarity of the image that is often confused with the refresh rate Hz definition. Refresh rates affect how movement is seen because it is how quickly the image can change. If you like sports, action movies, then you should look for a larger Hz rate. Want something to watch the news, TV and old movies, save the money the go with the lower Hz.

Size – does matter. Don’t go huge just because you can afford it and it fits on the wall. Choosing a TV size should be based on viewing distance from the TV. Unless you want to feel like you are sitting in the front row of a movie theater (and some people like that), then maybe go for the 55″ instead of the 70″ TV. Toshiba provides a webpage to assist you in selecting a TV size. http://www.toshiba.com/us/recommended-tv-viewing-distance. Keep in mind, they are a manufacturer and could be biased towards the the purchase of larger TVs. Personally, we agree with their minimum size, but have some reservations about the maximum viewing distances. 10.5′ for a 65″ TV is too close by our standards, but again…preferences to distance are a personal choice. When shopping, stand where you would sit when looking at sizes. Also, keep in mind aesthetics. While a 70″ TV looks tiny at a warehouse store, it will be huge on your family room wall if you have standard ceiling heights and the room isn’t large.

Bells & Whistles – You may have heard the term Smart TV, Intelligent TV or something similar. These TVs are built with inputs and outputs that allow you to hook them up to components for streaming video and other purposes, i.e. gaming. Know what you want your TV to do. Again, if this is going in the guest room, bathroom, kitchen, or even the bedroom, you may not want a “Smart” TV (which will cost more). If you are shopping for your family or recreation room TV, you will most likely want those features. However, go back to last month’s article on compatibility issues. You may buy a TV that has the capability to do one thing, but your older DVD player or even your speakers may not work with it, so now you need more electronics.

We could go on and on but that’s about it for this article. Here are a few closing thoughts. If you are going to stand your TV up on an entertainment system or other piece of furniture, keep in mind stability, especially if you have small children. If you are considering mounting it and want to hide the wires in the walls, depending on the size of the TV, type of mount, and where your components are located…the TV could be the least expensive piece of your entertainment system. If you plan to mount it yourself, don’t go cheap on the mount. It is holding up a very expensive piece of electronics that you hope will be with you for years to come.

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