What Sports Fans Need To Know About HDTVs

Last updated on 03/24/2010


By Liam McCabe

The holidays have long-since passed us by, and spring is still weeks away. But there is no better time of the year for sports. The NBA and NHL are in full swing, the Superbowl is tomorrow, the Olympics begin next weekend, baseball spring training starts up at the end of the month, and March Madness begins is fewer than six weeks. If you need a new TV to really make the action pop, keep a few points in mind:

1) Bigger is Better: The conventional wisdom says that you sit away from your TV a distance of 1.5 to 2.5 times the size of the screen. So if your couch is six feet away from your entertainment center, according to those guidelines, you'd want a TV with a screen anywhere from 29 to 48 inches. That's good for most viewing purposes, but if you're a big sports fan, stick toward the higher figure (and maybe go beyond it a little bit) for maximum sports impact.

2) 120 Hz is The Magic Number: An LCD (and LED-backlit) TV's refresh rate measures how often a new image is displayed on the screen. A larger number means faster refreshing, which in turn means a smoother picture--very important for fast-moving sports. However, the human eye can only detect a difference up to a certain point, and we think that point is 120 Hz. TVs at 60 Hz have obvious motion blur, while TVs at 240 Hz are barely distinguishable from 120 HZ models, aside from the inflated price tags. Note: Motion blur is rarely a problem on plasma, and the refresh rates are measured differently anyway, so don't worry about that here.

3) There is No "Better" Display Type: Many videophiles swear by plasma because it has few motion blur problems, better color reproduction, and costs less. That's cool. LCD, however, is the far more popular technology because the sets are physically lighter and thinner, consume less energy (which means lower energy bills), and are much easier on the environment overall. That's cool too. You'll have to decide for yourself.

4) TVs Are Cheaper Online: You can save about 20-30 percent buying a TV online (on a website such like this one, as luck would have it), often with free shipping included. If you need to have the TV in time for the Superbowl, that's obviously not going to work for you. But at least look at the prices here so you can better negotiate with the salesperson at your local brick-and-mortar.
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