The skinny on HDTV
Choosing the right TV to match your
living room and your wallet
It’s been 75 years since Idaho farm boy Philo setup (we’ ll visit this in a future column).
Farnsworth successfully demonstrated the The good news is that many satellite
first “moving pictures” transmission. and digital cable providers are offering
Little did the humble inventor of televi- more and more HDTV channels to jus-sion know we’d be scratching our heads in tify the purchase. Bell ExpressVU, for
the 21st century trying to decide which kind example, has 25 dedicated HDTV
of boob tube to buy. channels in its lineup, while Rogers
One thing is for certain: High-definition digital cable offers 22.
television (HDTV) is here to stay. Keep in mind, an HDTV receiver is
With double the lines of resolution com- required to accept a high-definition sig-
pared to older televisions, HDTVs offer a nal from your cable or satellite provider—
much sharper, more lifelike picture. These TVs and will cost more to buy or rent than your
also feature a wider viewing area that’s more existing receiver.
like a movie-theatre screen (16:9 aspect ratio, But with so many kinds of HDTV-ready JOHN HRYNIUK
as opposed to almost square 4: 3 aspect ratio). television technologies to choose from, it can long as other TVs (plasma life is between
And because HDTV is a subset of the be difficult to select the right one for you. 20,000 and 30,000 hours of viewing, or about
“digital television” revolution, it’s also possi- 14 years of watching six hours a day).
ble to enjoy high-quality surround-sound Plasma TVs
audio—providing you have the proper speaker Plasma TVs contain a mixture of neon LCD TVs
and xenon gases that fills the small space While liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs
between two sheets of glass. When this mix- have significantly smaller screens than
ture is stimulated by an electrical current, the plasma and projection HDTVs, they have
process creates a bright, vibrant picture. their advantages.
Q: I’m concerned about the growing number of video games with
violence. How can we as parents tell
what’s appropriate for our kids?
A: According to the Entertainment
Software Association, the average
age of a video-game player is now 29
years old (believe it or not), so it’s no
wonder we’re seeing more adult-oriented
games these days, such as Grand Theft
Auto: San Andreas and Halo 2.
Fortunately, every video-game
box has an age rating, supplied by the
Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Games rated “E” are for “Everyone,”
therefore the game is suitable for players
age 6 and older. More than 85 per cent of
all video games still fall in this category.
Games that have a “T” are for “Teens,”
and therefore suitable for players age 13
and older. Games rated “M,” or “Mature,”
are suitable only for players age 17 and
older, while “AO” is for “Adults Only”
( 18 years and up).
If you’d like to find out the age
rating for a game and why it received
that rating (e.g., violence, gore, sexual
themes, foul language, etc.), you can go
www.esrb.com and type in the name of
the game your child is asking for.—MS
These snazzy TVs are quite thin, and, as Pros: They are extremely thin and light-with many other HDTVs, they can be used as weight, so they can be hung on a wall, and they
both TVs and computer monitors. are much more energy efficient compared to
Pros: Many TV aficionados believe other TV technologies. These HD-ready TVs
plasma displays simply look the most enjoy a bright, crisp display, with deep blues
“organic” compared to other technologies: and rich reds, and have a wide viewing angle,
It’s like looking out a window. so there isn’t a bad seat in the room.
Be aware: This technology is usually the Be aware: Some LCD TVs do not handle
most expensive to invest in. Also, because motion very well (such as fast-paced sports
plasma TVs can suffer from “burn-in” caused games), so be sure to try before you buy.
by static images, they typically don’t last as
QAt the heart of every digital light pro-
&Acessing (DLP) projection TV is an optical
semiconductor that could be considered the
world’s most sophisticated light switch; this
chip contains more than 1 million micro-
scopic mirrors (each one less than one-fifth
the width of a human hair) that sway back
and forth to create the picture on the screen.
Pros: These rear-projection TVs offer a
sharp and extremely bright display in a light-
weight cabinet (less than 100 pounds), and are
less expensive than LCD or plasma models.
Be aware: DLP TVs are not thin enough
to hang on a wall like a picture frame, but,
with some as narrow as 15 inches deep, they
won’t take up too much space, either. C
Ask Marc Saltzman
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