Page 1

Flat panel TVs Buyer’s guide

and more!

Flat Panel HDTVs Buying a new HDTV is kind of like buying a dog. Instead of picking based solely on its appearance, take the time to learn about what kind best fits your lifestyle. It’s easy to get caught up in the popularity of a certain style, but before you write the check, read over these terms and tips.

HDTV technology HDMI 1.4

High definition Multimedia Interface connections are standard on new HDTVs. That’s the port that lets you run HD audio and video signals all on one cable. But the newest version, 1.4 signifies that the TV is able to accept a 3D signal. So whether the TV itself has 3D functionality, you can connect your 3D Blu-ray player and run the signal to the screen without any issues.


With high definition picture, you see everything - including the blurriness caused by motion on the screen that’s running faster than the image reproduction technology. A TV with 240Hz processing shows 240 frames per second (fps), allowing the TV to reproduce movies, television shows, special effects, and fast-action content without judder or blurriness. More Hz = faster picture.

1080p vs. 720p

The numbers refer to the density of pixels on a screen. Over-the-air signals from national networks are most often broadcast in 720p which means they break the image into 720 horizontal lines of pixels. Blu-ray discs and HD cable channels use 1080 lines of pixels. On screens larger than 32" the higher resolution translates into a crisp picture with more detail. On HDTVs smaller than 32" the difference between 1080p and 720p is less noticeable.

Televisions first arrived in our homes in 1946. Since then we have witnessed leaps and bounds in both technology and content.

A perfect fit.

Which type is right for you? Before you decide, think about what you like to watch most (movies, TV shows, sports, etc.), the size of your living room, and how much ambient light is already in the room. The following are your four panel options: LCD, LED with LCD backlight, Plasma and DLP or Rear Projection.

LCD These bright, energy-efficient screens are especially ideal in the 42" and under category and work well in sunny rooms. LCDs also tend to weigh less than their plasma counterparts. Because there are more LCD televisions on the market, you’ll find a greater variety of styles and features in this group.


width=36.6" Total Area: 754 square inches width=32.3" Total Area: 585 square inches width=27.9" Total Area: 438 square inches height=15.7"



You have a lot of uncontrolled light in your viewing area. You want a very light-weight, low-profile TV. You’re looking for an energy- efficient option.



An LCD TV might be for you if:

It’s tempting to buy the biggest TV you can possibly afford, but before you bag that behemoth, think about your room size. Believe it or not, there is a limit to how close you want to be to your TV screen. Generally, Vann’s sales associates will recommend that you sit no closer than twice the height of the screen. So multiply the vertical screen measurement by two to determine the minimum viewing distance. For example, a 46" TV is somewhere between 25" and 27" high (not counting the stand). Sit no closer than about 4.5 feet.

for your optimal viewing pleasure: Screen 32" 37" 40" 46" 52" 58" 65" 70"

Distance 2.8 ft 3.3 ft 3.7 ft 4 ft 4.5 ft 5 ft 5.3 ft 6 ft

Thin is in.

LED with LCD back light: A subgroup of the LCD family, LED TVs use a different kind of bulb to light the screen. The result is an even slimmer panel with better black levels and more accurate colors. They are broken down even further into back-lit and edge-lit options. Back-lit models have better blacks, but edge-lit can be less than an inch deep.

An LED LCD TV might be for you if: You watch a lot of 3D content. You want the slimmest, lightest panel available. You want the most energy- efficient HDTV.

Plasma The development of the plasma screen launched the flat panel TV era. This technology is known for its deeper black levels, richer colors, and smooth motion. Initially, plasma was the only choice in the largescreen category (46" and up), and they’re still favored for their wide viewing angles and filmlike reproduction.

Plasma TV might be for you if: You have a dedicated home theater area with controlled lighting. Your viewing area spreads around the room rather than being centered in front of the TV. You like to watch sports or other fast action content.

DLP/Rear Projection If you’ve got a little space to spare, and you’d love a huge screen for a reasonable price, consider rear projection. DLP TV depth has decreased drastically over the past decade; they average around 18" front to back. The technology inside the DLP is incredibly fast at switching pixels, so the onscreen action is smooth.

A DLP TV might be for you if:

You’re a serious gamer. You want a very large screen (60" and up) without a very large pricetag. You can spare a foot and a half of space in your home theater or living room.

But where (and how) to display it? Flat panel televisions are so lightweight and low-profile, you can hang them on your wall like art. For the ultimate minimalist look, you can run your cabling through your wall — no more visible cord tangle. To achieve this clean look, you need a wall mount. This extra piece of hardware bolts to studs in the wall; meanwhile, your TV is clamped into place on the mount frame.

Flush Mount

Wall mounts come in different styles. The most basic mount, a flush mount, will hold the TV flush to the wall and solidly in place. Other mount styles offer more flexibility. A lateral mount means you can slide the TV horizontally along the mount; tilt means you can tilt it up and down; and cantilever mounts hold the TV on an arm that can extend from the wall and rotate side to side or up and down. If you want your television more elevated than a standard entertainment center but don’t relish the thought of drilling holes in your walls, opt for a home theater stand with a mounting system. These stands have shelves to

Cantilever Mount

hold your components and a mounting bracket attached to a vertical arm. You’ll get some lift for your TV with the security of a flush mount. Most models offer a cable management system as well, so your wires stay hidden.

Lateral Mount

At a glance

Compare the different styles of HDTVs head to head across several important categories.

Beyond Cable


Internet Capability:

LCD 19"- 70"

You’ll see a lot of TVs with an ethernet connection or Wi-Fi capability. Each manufacturer has their own suite of applications that will connect you to online media content. Typical applications include Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and some form of news and weather.

Screen Size

Value $ -$$$

Viewing Angle

$$$ Good to Very Good

Picture Contrast Good to Very Good

LED/LCD 22"- 60" $$$ Good to Very Good

Very Good to Excellent

Plasma 42"- 65" $ Excellent

Very Good to Excellent

DLP 50"- 80" or Rear Projection


$-$$ Good

Video Motion

Color Gamut

Energy Efficiency


Good to Excellent

Very Good

Very Good

Panels weigh less than plasma and use less energy. Great for wall mount.

Good to Excellent



Uses the least amount of energy. Good deep blacks with the local dimming capability.




Superb contrast and black levels, effortless motion, rich deep colors.




Most cost effective per inch, fast screen response is best for gaming.

Common Myths MYTH: Watching an HDTV means everything is in HD: False. Your HDTV is capable of displaying HD images, but not everything you have access to is HD. Some TV shows are broadcast in 720p or 1080i resolution, which both qualify as high definition. Movies on Blu-ray disc are displayed in 1080p. But a majority of content is still shown in 480, which is the older, standard definition resolution.

MYTH: Bigger is better: Not necessarily. If you have a large room, get a large screen. But if you get a 60" screen and can only sit five feet away from it, the image will look pixelated. In other words, you’ll see too many details. See our size chart at the beginning to determine your ideal screen size.

Billings | 2647 King Ave. West | 406-652-5100 Bozeman | 3400 Laramie Drive | 406-556-6600 Kalispell | 2185 Hwy. 2 East | 406-257-9530 Hamilton | 616 North 1st Street | 406-363-6410

Please visit us at

Missoula | 3623 Brooks Street | 406-728-5151

flatpanelguide for

Helena | 2019 Cromwell-Dixon Lane | 406-442-4500

more information.


Vann's Flat Panel Buyer's Guide