Good news: You're about to get a brand new TV! Bad news: You have to sort through the jargon and the hype of actually buying a new TV. There are always new features and capabilities to contend with, from the industry's refusal to stop talking about 3D, to questions about 4K televisions and OLED screens. Some of the confusion is probably intentional – TV-manufacturers want to arm salespeople with new terminology to justify upgrades and higher prices for premiums choices. So let's cut to the chase and talk about the options and specs that really matter, and some that don't. Here's our no-nonsense advice for buying a great TV, minus the buyer's remorse.
Just because plasma is shuffling towards the tar pits of consumer electronics doesn't mean it's a bad choice. As TV reviewers have consistently (even frantically) pointed out, plasmas offer far better contrast ratios than other HD panels. In other words, while any LED can display bright colors or blinding whites, the black portions of the screen aren't so much black as they are dark grey. Plasmas, however, can recreate true blacks, and deliver the sort of crisp, high-contrast images that film purists crave. Older plasmas had "burn-in" problems, where an image left on the screen too long (such as a channel's logo tucked in the corner of the screen) could become a permanent or semi-permanent fixture. Plasma-makers fixed that problem years ago, but not before the issue became a lasting urban legend, and a deluge of cut-rate LCDs sealed plasma's fate. If you're a bona fide film buff, or just someone with a particularly keen eye, don't hesitate: Snap up one of the plasmas still available online, and give this underdog technology its final due.
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