LCD televisions, despite having a display type with inherent scientific difficulties, have risen to become the market leader in the multimedia world. Buying televisions always engenders a debate about whether ‘to LCD, or not to LCD… that is the question’! Today we are exploring exactly what makes LCD televisions ‘tick’, and whether the display technology will be the right one for your viewing preferences.
How do LCD televisions work?
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display; the display panel on an LCD TV uses a film of crystals in a viscous liquid, with light either travelling through them or being blocked, to display an image. It is the same technology (although at a completely different level) as is used in your alarm clock.
An LCD TV panel uses two sheets of polarising plastic filters, with a layer of electrically sensitive liquid crystal in between. When voltage is applied to a pixel, the crystals turn on an angle. The polarised light travelling from the backlight cannot pass through pixels that are polarised at right angles to the light, so a ‘switched-off’ pixel is effectively created. Red, blue and green filters are included, to show the full range of light colours.
The Perks of LCD technology
LCD technology has one big inherent advantage – that is its cost effectiveness in manufacturing. Every LCD television screen is cut from a single large sheet of liquid crystal display that has been pre-engineered. With every manufacturing generation, processes are improved to make larger and larger single sheets, improving cost effectiveness. Other factors that make LCD technology preferable to either plasma, DLP rear projection televisions or cathode ray sets include:
* The screen is made from plastic rather than glass, so is lighter and less fragile
* Screen burn-in is not an issue
* Edge definition for pixels is much better that in the glowing phosphor dots used by plasma technology – so pictures are much sharper.
Green credentials are a big part of the reason that many consumers buy LCD televisions. While the energy consumption differences between brands are relatively small, the difference between technologies is significant. Both plasma and cathode ray sets use around twice as much power as an LCD screen of similar size. It seems that with the cost efficiencies of LCD TVs, researchers will be spending much more time improving the technology – so LCD is the way of the future. It is inherently HD ready, cheap, light, durable, offers great definition and uses less power than other types.
The Lurks of LCD Technology
LCD televisions do have their drawbacks, which is the reason that plasma, rear projection and cathode ray televisions continue to be sold. A flaw inherent in the technology is that sometimes the backlight can bleed through switched off pixels, and contrast ratio suffers. The good news is that the way you use your television makes much more of a difference to the perceived contrast ratio than the manufacturer’s specifications do. Sitting at an optimal viewing angle and removing external light sources when you watch your television will a big difference to your viewing experience.
Colour saturation is less potent in LCD televisions than in plasmas, however depending on your preference, the improved picture ‘sharpness’ that LCD Samsung TVs, Sharp TVs and Sony TVs have may make up for this in your perception of picture quality. Most of the drawbacks of LCD televisions are easy to compensate for – it is only picture quality enthusiasts that usually consider more expensive, fragile, power hungry plasma or rear projection sets.