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All confusing LCD T.V. terms in one place at one time

It has come to my attention on an almost daily basis here in the store that there is a lot of confusion about a few of the terms Television manufacturers like to use to describe their displays; so I am going to try to de-mystify a few of the big ones right now. I think the biggest area of confusion at the moment is in the types of LCD displays being sold so let’s start there.

There are 5 main types of LCD displays to be aware of.

CCFL Backlight LCD


This is the traditional LCD display which uses (for lack of a better term) fluorescent tubes of some type as the light source. These have been around the longest, use the most energy and as a rule would now be considered the lowest performing of the types available. The main reason to look at this type of display will probably be cost. These should be the least expensive of the 5 types I am going to discuss here. The only place where this will not hold true is in the very largest sizes. So far I am not aware of anyone making anything larger than about 55″ which uses any of the other forms of backlight. So if you are shopping 60″ and above a CCFL display is probably in your future if you are looking for a set that is 55″ and smaller, keep reading.

Edge Light White LED Backlight LCD

Samsung UN46B8000

This is the next step in LCD display lighting. The primary advantages are that the LED’s provide a very long life light source and the set can be extremely thin in fact the Samsung sets that are built this way are only 1.2″ thick! These sets are also more energy efficient than the previously mentioned CCFL sets. The downside to these sets is that they do not have the best uniformity of light. Because all of the light comes from the edges of the screen and are dispersed via some sort of diffraction system they can have darker or lighter areas in the picture. This is the display of choice when thickness is your main concern because these are going to be the thinnest displays you will see.

Full Array or Full Panel White LED Backlight LCD


This type of display also uses LED’s for the light but in this case the LED’s are placed directly behind the LCD panel and are distributed all across the back of the panel. This type of set gives you all of the advantages of LCD very white light for better color accuracy, extremely low energy usage, extremely long life of the light source, and because the LED’s are across the entire panel they have excellent light uniformity. Believe it or not, even though these have many more LCD’s than an edge lighted design; they are more energy efficient because the LED’s can be run at a lower level. In fact the Sharp 52″ Full Array LCD display uses and average of about 105 watts or about the same amount of energy as an incandescent light bulb. This is the display for great color and for the Green among you because of its’ extreme energy efficiency.

Full Array or Full Panel White LED Backlight LCD with Local Dimming


This is really the same as the display just covered in number 3 with one big difference. Local Dimming control means that these sets can turn the LED arrays on and off independently in different areas of the display. This allows the display to have better black levels and handle locally bright areas even better. Just think about watching a movie with a lot of action in very dark situations and the advantages of this type of display will become apparent. This is going to be the best performing of all of the White LED displays, and will be the most costly because of the extra control needed to handle the local dimming.

Full Array or Full Panel Tri-Luminous LED Backlight LCD w/Local Dimming


Wow, what a mouthful that is. This is the best of everything with all of the picture and performance enhancements mentioned above plus instead of White LED’s it uses Red-Green and Blue LED’s. So we have local dimming, energy efficiency, and with 3 color LED’s we have the very best in color levels and accuracy. This will be the most expensive of all of the LCD display types because it requires the most sophisticated control system. This will be the LCD display panel for the most discriminating TV buyer.

Please remember this is an overview and I am not trying to cover every aspect of every design from every manufacturer it is just a primer of the main types of displays you will hear people discussing. Plus if for some reason you do accidentally go to one of the Big Buy stores after reading this you will probably already know more than the helpful part time high school student that will be there to try to ignore you until you give up and buy something. And remember, we guarantee our TV prices so you can come to Ask the Advisors, talk to someone who knows what they are talking about, get good advice on what display fits your needs, buy it at the same price as the “discount store” and not have to deal with the hassles associated with buying at a Big Buy type of store….. Ron


Ask Ron About LCD Televisions

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