You’ve seen them advertised online with plummeting prices, you’ve seen them at electronics stores like Best Buy and Circuit City, and even at Sam’s Club and Costco. They’re flat screen televisions, and they’re going to become more important in 2009, when all of the broadcasters switch over to purely digital systems.
Flat Screen TVs have stabilized on high quality LCD displays. An LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) contains millions of cells (pixel elements) that crystallize when the current level drops below a minimum amount. By making each cell a triplet, one tinted red, one green and one blue, you can make a color picture; LCD display typically have fluorescent backlights on them.
The primary benefit of a flat screen tv for you is that it’s got a huge picture at a fraction of the volume of a conventional Cathode Ray Tube (CRT or just “tube”) television, which more or less has to be at least as deep as it is diagonally across. Now, if you saw early flat screen televisions, or computer monitors, or remember really old laptops, you may recall a phenomenon called “ghosting”, where an image would smear across the pixels, because they couldn’t respond fast enough. Modern flat screen televisions have more or less eliminated that problem by having response times (how quickly the crystal can change phase from liquid to solid and back) of eight milliseconds or less.
Likewise, one of the other places where LCD flat screen televisions have seriously picked up in quality is color fidelity; as the technology has matured, the ability to get precise color matching has grown by staggering amounts; one of the keys to this is incredibly fine grained control over the backlight behind the LCD panels; in some cases, going up to 1024 levels of brightness, to coordinate with the millions of colors to give absolutely sharp picture clarity.
So, if you’ve been hesitant about flat screen televisions before, the technology has grown up in capabilities while coming down considerably in price.