LCD vs Plasma TVs Buying Guide

Plasma vs LCD? What is high definition? We walk you through the process of picking up a new flat panel LCD or Plasma television.

FAQs: TVs

What is digital TV?

Digital TV is the new television signal transmission standard that will eventually replace free-to-air analogue TV – just like CDs replaced vinyl records. Some people refer to the actual television set as a “digital TV” but this isn’t correct and only tends to make things more confusing.

Digital TV offers better picture quality, enhanced sound and other features like program guides and digital radio.

In Australia, we use the DVB-T standard for transmitting digital TV that was originally developed in Europe. Digital TV can be transmitted in both Standard and High Definition resolutions ranging from 576 horizontal lines (SDTV) up to 1080 horizontal lines (HDTV). You will need a flat panel television such as a plasma or LCD TV in order to display these higher resolutions, together with either an integrated digital TV tuner or a separate set-top box. Your old cathode ray tube (CRT) television is only capable of displaying images with 576 horizontal lines (576i).

When did digital TV transmissions commence?

Digital TV transmissions were made available to the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth on the first of January 2001, but not all of the country has digital TV. The Federal Government has recently announced that all free-to-air television broadcasters in Australia will complete the switch from analogue transmission to digital-only transmission by the end of 2013. For more details visit the Australian Government’s Web site at http://www.dbcde.gov.au/media_broadcasting/television/digital_switchover_information_for_consumers.

What benefits does free-to-view digital TV provide?

One of the biggest benefits of digital TV is the image clarity. Unlike analogue signals, a digital signal has no ghosting or snow. If your area supports digital TV, it will always look perfect. Areas with low signal strength are not recommended for digital TV because if the signal gets too weak, the picture ends up looking like ugly jumbled squares and the sound will cut in and out, making the program impossible to watch.

What happens to my existing analogue TV set?

You can still use your existing television but it will not accept the digital TV signal without a little help. To pick up digital TV you will need to buy a set-top box or any device with a built-in tuner. The tuner or set-top box receives the signal and converts it to display on your analogue TV. If you are using an analogue TV it is best to get a Standard Definition set-top box as your TV won’t be able to display High Definition (HD) TV signals. A Standard Definition set-top box also has the added advantage of being considerably cheaper than the HDTV kind.

Can my 4:3 analogue TV set display Digital TV to its full effect?

Yes and no. There are two types of digital TV. Standard Definition digital TV will look excellent on your existing TV but your TV will not support HD TV unless you upgrade to a High Definition television.

Will my Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) still work?

This will depend on whether your VCR has a "Video In" function. A set-top box will not output a signal that can be plugged into the aerial port in the back of your VCR. Instead, it will output to either a Composite video cable (yellow plug) or Component video cables (red, green, blue plugs). In order to record digital television you will need a VCR that accepts these types of video cables and set the VCR to "Video In" or "Aux" depending on the model. However, there are other options available for recording from the television including a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) or a DVD hard disk recorder.

Will digital TVs connect with VCRs, DVDs and sound systems etc?

It is important to understand that the term “digital TV” does not refer to the television set but is a type of signal standard used to broadcast television programs to the home. As such, the answer to this question is yes. Whether your TV has an integrated tuner or you are using a set-top box, you can easily set up your VCR so that the digital TV (Standard Definition) signal can be recorded to VHS. A TV with an integrated tuner won’t affect your DVD player at all. If you have a home theatre setup, you can connect the incoming TV signal to the system in order to take advantage of the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound that digital TV caters for.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags lcd tvsbuying guidehome entertainmentplasma

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?