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Choosing a Flat TV

Flat screen televisions have now become a preferred television choice for virtually any home. As the technology has improved and their popularity has expanded, the prices have lowered on flat televisions and made them accessible to virtually everyone. Plus, flat TV has a few built-in advantages (such as wider viewing angles that make them easier to view from multiple areas around a room, and the fact that they can be wall-mounted, so they free up valuable floor space) that make them a desirable choice.

When it comes to choosing a flat TV, how do you decide which one is right for you? Your HTSA member can review your specific room setting and measurements to help you determine the ideal television, but this basic primer will get you started.

What size is right?
Flat panel monitors are available from 13″ to 70″ (and growing!). In general, if you’re planning to do a lot of viewing or are using the television mainly for movies or home theater, it will be worth your investment to get the largest screen you can afford. But, you can’t ignore the size of your room. Sitting a few feet away from a 60″ television is probably going to be a lackluster experience.

As a general rule of thumb, plan for eight feet of viewing distance for a 40″ TV, 10 feet for a 50″ TV, 12 feet for a 60″ TV and 15 feet for 61″ or larger.

Where should it go?
The beauty of flat TV is that it has versatile placement options. Yes, they can be hidden in an armoire or entertainment center, but why would you want to? Their thin profiles (generally around four inches thick) mean they can fit into places where CRT televisions never could. The two most popular options are wall mounts or displaying them tabletop.

Wall mounting eliminates the need for additional furniture and frees up living space. Plus, it helps you make sure that the TV can be displayed at proper viewing height for your room. Also, special wall mounts can even give you the option to have the TV swing to adjust angles as you desire.

If you go tabletop, consider the new crop of home entertainment furniture designed specifically for flat televisions. These specialty pieces are built with the rugged construction needed to support and stabilize the televisions, and are often designed to support and display or conceal your accompanying electronics and speakers.

Plasma or LCD?
Now the big question. Do you choose a plasma or LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) television? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Plasma screens are generally considered to have more film-like quality and more natural color capability, but the differences are arguable and may be modest, as LCD technology is improving at every turn. Plasma televisions can have problems with image burn-in. LCDs, on the other hand, typically weigh less, use less energy and do not have burn-in. Plus, if you want a TV smaller than 37″, LCD flat screens are the only choice. But, if you’re looking for a larger model, it really comes down to personal preference and deciding which advantages are most important to you. We recommend that you make sure you purchase the best plasma or LCD television you can afford.

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