Which Kind of Television Is Best for Your Home Theater?

Much debate has been made in the name of which television offers the best user experience. When you sit down in front of the big game, which television format is going to give you the best picture, the best price, and the best overall experience? While it may not be possible to say whether LCD, Plasma, or LCD is going to be the best choice for you, it is possible to put together a list of some of the pros and cons of each format to help you make a decision as to which format will offer you the most of what you want with the least of what you don’t want.

LCD
LCD televisions have been quite popular for some time now and have become something of an “industry standard” if there is such a thing for the television market at this point in time. The fact of the matter is that when you go to your local “big box” store and walk into the electronics section, most of what you see in front of you are LCD televisions. So why are LCDs so popular? One great advantage of LCD televisions is the fact that they offer very low glare and can be watched in a higher light environment than a plasma television. Another advantage of LCD will come at the end of the month in the form of a lower energy bill. LCD televisions as a rule tend to use less energy than some of the alternative televisions. While LCD televisions have a lot to offer, many people feel that plasma televisions offer a better picture at a lower cost.

Plasma
Plasma televisions were more popular several years ago than they are now but many people swear by them, and for good reason. Plasma televisions cannot be viewed as easily in high light situations as LCD televisions due to glare, but plasma screens are known to offer what many people consider to be a more vivid picture and deeper colors, especially blacks, than some of the alternative options. Another great feature of plasma televisions is their price. As LCDs and LEDs are gaining market share it is becoming possible to find some really great deals on plasma televisions. If you are planning on having a television for primarily home theater, lower light situations, then a plasma television may be exactly what you are looking for.

LED
LED televisions are essentially the next generation of LCD televisions, this is because the LED moniker refers to how new LCD televisions are backlit rather than an entirely new system onto itself. So when thinking of an LED television you can expect some of the same benefits as with an LCD like low power consumption, a thin physical build, and a great low light viewing experience with the added benefit of improved color saturation.

Whatever television you decide is the right choice for you, I’m sure you will be amazed with the high quality that many companies are offering across the spectrum of television formats these days. Basically, it’s hard to go wrong with a great new television!

White Space – The Debate Over Free Wireless Spectrum

With the announcement of the website FreetheAirWaves.com by Google in order to support the white space campaign, the debate over the “white space” issue has reached a new level.

In terms of Google white space is the space of unused frequencies in the range traditionally defined for TV channels. Google and some other leading companies wants to transform this range from licensed, like TV where specific frequencies are granted exclusively to a specific channel, to unlicensed, like Wi-Fi where anyone can use it. They call it “Wi-Fi on steroids.” The spectrum would enable longer-range, higher data rate, and faster wireless connectivity for all types of gadgets.

Along with Google other technology companies like Intel, Dell, HP, Microsoft, and Phillips Electronics are united in a coalition called the Wireless Innovation Alliance. They have been lobbying the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to open up this spectrum for unlicensed use after the digital TV transition early next year.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and phone companies are entirely against this initiative. The Television and phone companies want exclusive rights to various frequencies. These spectrum that sit idle between TV channels as buffers, in order to ensure that TV signals don’t interfere with each other, could be used to provide broadband wireless services. But according to the broadcasters, these channels will cause interference with their TV signals and eventually resulting in major problems for people watching TV.

The FCC has done a number of testing of the spectrum to see if wireless devices will interfere with each other. The results of the tests have been mixed. But Google has make out a solution for this problem. Now it is proposing new rules to designate specific frequencies for TVs, wireless microphones, and for other devices, and then another spectrum for wireless Internet access.

Next month the FCC is likely to release a report based on the test results. It will finally vote on whether to open the spectrum in the next few months. This issue has become as much of a political debate as it has a technical one. The National Association of Broadcasters is pointing that interference can’t be avoided, based on tests as evidence. While Google and other technology companies argue that these are simply proof of concept devices and are not even like the prototypes that could be used in commercial products.

NAB and other Wireless companies, such as Verizon are opposing the use of white spaces because they have their own business motivations for opposing the use of white spaces. The afraid of interference might be a concern for the NAB but the more prominent reason for opposing this concept is that its members are reluctant to give up control of airwaves, which they believes are theirs.

Along with other technology companies, Google has its own motivations and interests to consider. Google can make more from advertising if more wireless spectrum and broadband services are available. Other companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Motorola would also be benefited as they could sell more products and services to consumers who use this unlicensed spectrum.

Digital TV and Radio – the Changing Face of Radio and Television Broadcasting

Digital TV

A new digital TV format called ATSC is being implemented in North America and will replace the analog NTSC one by 2009. This will allow high definition TV (HDTV) to be implemented on terrestrial television broadcasts. This digital tv switchover will allow homes currently without a satellite system to receive digital terrestrial television which will give a much improved picture quality.

Other new benefits of digital transmission are that more channels can be transmitted within the same bandwidth (portion of the radio frequency spectrum), this enables more channels to be broadcast using existing transmitters and antennae (though modifications will be necessary) and will allow some of the bandwidth to be used for other services if desired such as voice and data or government uses.

For the average user, the picture quality, whether using HDTV or not, will improve immensely.

In the UK this transformation has been under way for a few years with the result that many people have as large a choice of channels available through digital terrestrial television transmission as they would with a satellite system, and much improved picture quality.

For the consumer, it should be understood that it is not necessary to buy a completely new TV set in order to receive the new transmissions. A simple set top box (digital tuner) can be used, though more and more new TV’s will have the capability of picking up digital transmissions without an extra box. These set top boxes retail very cheaply so it is not a huge investment, and the US government is taking steps to help people with coupons in order to ensure everyone upgrades to the new service before the analog transmissions stop. The only possible additional equipment may be an upgraded aerial.

In the US market a majority of people already use satellite or cable services and most of these will already receive digital signals, but as many as 20% may be receiving analog signals on terrestrial services so for these people a huge improvement in TV services is on the horizon.

Digital Radio

In the US digital radio has been embraced using satellite services primarily, though terrestrial broadcasters are interested in introducing services if the high costs of receiving equipment comes down. Satellite services have been popular for people travelling as they can receive the same channels they are used to wherever they are, and there are less censorship issues and advertising with the satellite services, though the downside is that they have to subscribe.

In the UK digital radio is through terrestrial services (called DAB radio and free apart from equipment costs) and the services are becoming very popular now that equipment costs have fallen to below $100 for most receivers. Many more channels and excellent quality mean that it will become the radio medium of choice for most people very quickly. DAB radio (Digital Audio Broadcasting) is becoming popular both in homes and cars with a wide choice of channels and crystal clear transmissions.

The improvements in signal quality and station choice as with the TV services are the main benefit to consumers. For service providers there will ultimately be many more services they can deliver to people over the same radio bandwidth, advertisers will have better targeting in the same way that they can over the internet, and for the government more radio spectrum is available whether for more channels or other uses.