Help and advice

HD or 3D?

Choosing the right TV for you
Television terminology can be confusing, and it’s not always clear what will best suit your needs. Here is our guide to understanding what sellers mean and how to get the best television for your money.

There isn’t much need to distinguish between light-emitting diode (LED) and liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions. The main difference is that LCDs get their light from cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), whereas LED screens use… well, LEDs. LED televisions are the newer, more up-to-date option and as such tend to come with a bigger price tag. Other than that, the technology is nearly identical. Unless you are looking to buy a very high-end plasma television, don’t worry too much about it.

On a side note, it should be noted that plasma technology does not work well at very high altitudes due to the lower atmospheric pressure, so you should probably consider something else if you live on a mountain (or more than about 7,200 feet above sea level).

High definition (HD) is increasingly a standard feature on newer televisions. However, if you’re keen to keep the price as low as possible, there are some non-HD models still available, mostly second-hand. If you don’t plan to use HD-enabled channels or films, you’re unlikely to notice any difference.

If you decide you want a 3D television, you have the choice of an active or passive system. But what does this mean? Active systems require relatively expensive, battery-powered glasses to connect the two layered images that make up 3D. While the price of active systems has dropped recently, it is still generally the more expensive choice. Do note that the batteries require recharging regularly, which is not true of passive 3D glasses.

Passive systems need polarised glasses to work properly. Essentially, these are a version of the glasses many of us have worn to watch a 3D film. However, passive 3D isn’t always as effective, causing problems with cross-talk. This is when the viewer can still see the two images, rather than the composite 3D one.

It’s also worth considering if 3D is the best option at all, as some people experience negative health symptoms - such as severe headaches or nausea - while watching 3D devices. If you’ve ever had these problems while watching a 3D film in a cinema, then a 3D television is probably not for you.

Screen size is the other main factor in choosing a TV. Firstly, make sure to measure your space carefully before making a decision, as there is nothing more annoying than opening your shiny new technology only to find that it doesn’t fit in your living room. Screen size is also a major factor when it comes to pricing, so you may find that a willingness to compromise in this area can result in serious savings.


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