Buying a TV, with all the myriad choices available to the modern consumer, is often very time consuming and expensive. LCD screens and plasma TVs are the two major types of TVs, but are you aware that there are a number of things to watch out for when buying a TV?
It is not nearly as straightforward as finding the right-sized model and leaving the store. Since a TV is a significant purchase, make sure that you do diligence when searching for the right TV.
Dead Pixels and Light Leak
Be wary when buying an LCD screen -- make sure that no light leaks from the sides of the screen, particularly during dark scenes. This is called "light leak", and is a known issue with LCD screens. In addition, make sure that all of the pixel are working. Dead pixels are expensive (or practically impossible) to replace, and can detract from your viewing experience in a very significant way.
Since LCD screens, by definition, shoot light through liquid crystals, it is not easy to show black on them. If there's a starry night sky, for example, but the screen is bright because light is shining through it, it will not have the same effect as an actual night sky has on your eyes. In order to compensate for this difference, LCD screens have segments of lights that stop shining during certain scenes.
Moving back to the "shining night sky" example, if there is a nighttime scene, the lights behind the liquid crystals will stop shining for the moments that the black is on screen. It's a dynamic process, and one that involves constantly turning on and turning off the lights that shine behind the liquid crystals. This allows LCD screens to emulate blackness in the truest sense of the word -- a lack of light.
Some LCD TVs do not do an accurate job of showing black scenes. Therefore, when testing out an LCD TV before you buy it, make sure you test dark scenes in dark movies. Does the black look black enough to you? Or, does it leave something to be desired? This can often distract from enjoying a movie, so make sure you don't give too much leniency when it comes to black levels.
Plasma or LCD?
While many people will likely tell you otherwise, the best TVs on the market right now are currently plasma TVs (keep in mind that this is only when comparing top of the line plasma TVs to top of the line LCD TVs). Plasma TVs will retain sharper, more accurate colors and image quality compared to LCD TVs, as the LCD technology has not yet caught up to the quality of plasma technology.
However, if you decide to buy a plasma TV, keep in mind that the plasma TV might have a fan embedded in it to keep from overheating. If you watch a lot of quiet movies, this *could* bother you. Furthermore, it is often difficult to test this out in a loud TV store.
Just make sure you understand the current issues with LCD TVs. It's not as straightforward as comparing run-of-the-mill statistics and figures when buying a TV. By understanding, even on a broad, conceptual level, the technology involved, you will be able to remain aware of the factors involved in buying a TV, and can make a more informed buying decision.