The 6 Best 60 Inch Televisions
6. Vizio E60-C3
5. LG Electronics 60SJ8000
4. Sony KD60X690E
3. Samsung Electronics UN65MU9000
2. TCL 55P607
1. LG Electronics 60UJ7700
Lights Behind Your Screen
It's a distinct probability that, at some point in the research you've been doing into your next television purchase, you came across this notion that LED TVs were, in fact, LED backlights behind an LCD screen. For some reason, certain bloggers, reviewers, etc. get their undies twisted over this subtle misnomer, as though the entire industry were conspiring to mislead us.
Are there ways in which the industry is, on a whole, misleading us? Absolutely, but this isn't one of them. It's more a clumsy evolution of our classification system for TVs than a ploy to get you to buy one over another.
LED backlighting is the standard, built into more TVs than any other component system. Essentially, the zeroes and ones that convey picture information to your TV tell it which LEDs to light up and how brightly to do so. This creates a kind of black and white haze of an image that's nebulous and unrefined. It's like watching A Hard Days Night on acid.
A layer in front of that LED panel refines that image further before it reached the LCD screen around which your unit is designed. That screen makes the final adjustments in color and definition. From there, the screen clarity only depends on when you had your last eye exam.
The Truth Hertz: Motion Blur Isn't Always Your TV's Fault
Imagine you're overweight (according to the National Institutes of Health that shouldn't be too hard for about 75% of American males). Now, imagine there was a surgery that could make you leaner and healthier just by cutting you into smaller pieces and stitching you back together. Sounds nuts, right?
Well, in humans it is nuts, but for images it creates a whole new world of clarity.
Keep in mind that movies are actually composed of a series of still images moving by at just the right speed to create what's called the flicker effect (like a flip book you'd draw in the corners of your math text book), which is meant to fool your brain into thinking the images are really moving.
Look at any roll of film negatives you might have lying around, and you'll notice that each image is separated from the next by a small portion of undeveloped celluloid.
When HD first arrived on the scene, there was a movement to convert classic films to digitally rendered HD versions. The first one of these I saw was Total Recall, and I remember noticing how eerily smooth the picture looked. It was enough to make you squirm.
You see, in those early days of HD conversion, companies would remove that gap in the developed film and stitch the frames back together, extending each one just enough and altering the speed of the reel just slightly so that the movie took the same amount of time to run, but there was no longer any flicker effect.
All of a sudden the brain didn't have to be fooled into thinking that a series of still images was moving because, for the first time, it really was just moving.
Since then, most companies have switched back to a real frame rate similar to that of film. People just like it better. But the rate at which those frames get captured, and the rate at which your television can display them is significant.
If an event, like the race in the picture above, is captured with too low a frame rate, you get that motion blur, and you need a TV with some advanced motion technology like LG's Trumotion or Samsung's Clear Motion Rate. Those technologies perform a version of the weight loss surgery we talked about, helping to stabilize and refine a poorly captured image. That said, if the source image is too far gone, the TV can only help so much.
On the other hand, if you have a clear, perfectly captured image that was shot or rendered at 120 frames per second and your TV can't get above 60Hz (Hertz is the television equivalent of frames per second) you're going to see more blur than you'd like.
Television And The Family
At the peak of the American family ideal, with 2.3 children and a dog, a white picket fence and a distant if not unhappy patriarch, a secret stash of Quaaludes and a not so secret stash of bourbon, there is always this image of the family unit gathered around the radio. After all, in the 50s and 60s, television sets were comparatively rare luxuries for middle America.
In those early days of consumer TV, the sets were mostly black and white, controlled without a remote, and the programming was extraordinarily limited. So who'd want one, right?
It's easy to forget that anything resembling a consumer culture existed before our own moment in history. I get it: the platforms by which a company can talk directly to an individual about his or her desires have developed at an alarming rate over the past decade. But even in those days there was a need to keep up with the Jones', so to speak, a need to stay current.
So, TVs crept faster and faster into American homes, with the availability of footage from Vietnam spurring on sales to families with loved ones in the conflict.
Still, not much about the technology changed for a while. There were giant versions of the basic cathode ray television available, but their viewing angles were terrible and their prices were astronomical. Plasma and LED/LCD have changed all that, and the images they put out are developing in concert with the cameras that capture those images. As long as we keep watching, the future of TV is a bright one.