Help me make sense of hdtv technology
February 15, 2009 11:47 PM Subscribe
I'm looking to buy my first HDTV. I know little to nothing about technology, and it seems that all of the discussions and guides online are geared towards very savvy technophiles looking to spend big bucks on a very precise level of viewing and audio perfection that I neither need nor want. Please help me understand what all of these weird terms mean and what I actually need in order to watch tv and vhs/dvd videos.
posted by Mael Oui to technology (23 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of my questions stem from what I see in the weekly store circulars. I check the prices there, and I see a lot of specs that make no sense to me. When I research terms like 'hdmi' and 's video', I get a lot of techolingo that I don't understand. I need explanations in pretty much the simplest terms imaginable. Pretend your explanations and advice is being directed at an elderly loved one (no offense to elderly people - many of them understand this better than I do, but that hypothetical level of simplicity and patience will be necessary here). I have a lot of questions. I'm going to bold the direct questions, but all the non-bolded stuff explains my particular situation and televisual desires.
I'm looking for an hdtv that is between 15" and 19". I can't afford (and I don't have room) for anything much larger. If I found a good deal on a 20" or 22", that might be alright. This tv must have a digital tuner. There's no sense spending a few hundred dollars for something I still have to hook a converter box to. I bought a converter box, but I haven't tried to set it up yet. I looked at the manual that came with it and almost died (that's how technophobic I am). I don't have cable currently, and I'm not planning on getting cable (or a satellite dish), so I don't have a cable box to hook up. I don't have a dvr or any sort of speaker/home theater system. Currently, I have a tv that is over 10 years old hooked up to a vcr that is slightly newer. This tv has an antenna, and I receive about ten channels over the air. The set-up for the new tv won't be much different. All I'm planning to hook up to the new tv is my old vcr and a new dvd player (a standard one - nothing upconverting or blu-ray) OR a combination vcr and dvd player. Also, my tv will be in no way connected to my computer ever, so I don't know what this whole 'pc input' business is. Okay, so to clarify: no cable, I just want to hook up a vcr and dvd player (two items) OR a combination vcr/dvd player (one item). Okay? I hope that was clear.
Here are my questions:
1. What's the difference between 'full HDTV' and 'HDTV' (as cited in store circulars)? I'm not concerned about a mind-blowing viewing experience. I really just want to be able to watch a handful of shows on network tv and all my old vhs videos and dvds. I don't need to feel as if I am actually ON the Lost island.
2. What does 19" CLASS mean? Is a tv that has CLASS better than one that doesn't have it? Once again, this is wording that I see in the ads.
3. What's with all the different inputs? What are they? Which do I need? What cables will I need to buy? I see a lot of tvs that come with multiple (or one) hdmi inputs, multiple (or one) component inputs, a pc input, an s video input, and an a/v input. I've even seen something called an RF input and an RGB input. And a composite input! What in the world are these all for?!? Which do I absolutely need? Once again, I'm just looking to watch tv over the air and hook up either a vcr and dvd player (two items) OR a combination vcr/dvd player (one item). Nothing else. No cable, no video game systems, and no sound system. Okay, based on that information, which of the many inputs listed above do I absolutely need in my new tv? Based on what I've said I might hook up to the tv, how many of each input would I need? Would I need more of some inputs if I were to hook up separate vcr and dvd players? What wires will I need for each of the inputs? Will any of these wires be packaged with the tv or the dvd/vcr? If I still end up using my old vcr, can I use whatever kind of wire I have hooking it up to the tv now? Are there any wires that I will have to buy separately? Will I need an HDMI cable? How many of each type of wire would I need?
4. Antennas. Currently, I use rabbit ears on top of my set. We don't have an antenna on the roof. Will I probably need to buy an antenna to go with my new hdtv? Will it have to be a special digital antenna?
5. I've read that not all tvs in stores are ready for the digital conversion. What will the boxes say to confirm that it is ready for digital tv and that I do not need my converter box? 'Digital tuner'?
6. VCR and DVDS. Will older vcrs work with hdtvs or will I have no choice but to buy a new one? Will new hdtvs work alright with a standard dvd player (one that doesn't upconvert or have blu-ray)? Is it a better idea/worth it to get a television with a dvd player built in?
7. Are there any websites (or tech forums) that explain these terms/technologies for people who aren't tech savvy and aren't looking to trick their living room out? Are there any sites that provide basic information for technophobes about choosing tvs/dvd players, setting them up, and troubleshooting difficulties? Finally, are there any sites that review by brand and don't push the larger and more expensive technologies?
(As a sort of aside, I'm thinking about buying the Memorex 19" that's on the cover of the Target ad this week. Is Memorex recommended? I do google brands and models for reviews, but I don't see much info for the smaller sets and Amazon reviews haven't been too helpful.)
I know I've asked a lot of questions.. I'm sorry! Thank you to whoever reads the bulk of this post and actually attempts to answer any of the questions. It's VERY much appreciated! Thank you again!