Since the television made its way into homes across the world, innovation among these devices has been non-stop. Constant progress has left behind a long trail of TV technologies and styles—and though some have become so modern as to incorporate nanoscale science, prior technologies still play a role. Whether you’re buying a new TV to watch the game or are looking to dive into repair and building, understanding the different types of televisions by technology will help you determine which is best for you.
When you shop for a TV, after you choose a budget and size, you’ll typically need to decide what display type you’re looking for. There are a variety of acronyms and television terms you should be familiar with before you get started. They are listed below.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens are, to this day, the type of screens we interact with the most. Due to the uniquely aligned molecules that allow the necessary amount of light through when electricity is applied, LCD screens can be used across a wide range of screen sizes without becoming bulky. LCD TVs are the affordably priced flatscreens we see on shelves nowadays, and they’re perfect for budget projects when you don’t want to forgo quality.
Note: LED TVs available for entertainment purposes are usually LED-backlit LCD TVs. True LED TVs do exist but are rarely used in people’s homes.
Though they’re not as prominent as the LCD screens, Digital Light Processing (DLP) TVs brought unique benefits to television. Flexuous and rapid movement shows more clearly on DLP screens—a trait that makes them ideal for watching sports, nature documentaries, and high-action films. DLP televisions, like LCDs, produce an image by letting through small amounts of light. However, DLP relies on small mirrors instead of liquid crystals. This style of display has fallen somewhat out of fashion but still serves its purpose as an inexpensive option for smooth viewing.
Plasma televisions truly took the market by storm as a luxury alternative throughout the decades to follow. Instead of relying on angled light, plasma TVs use plasma-containing pixels that respond to an electrical field to create color and images. This new technology allowed for the creation of bigger and bigger screens and faster image response time. If you’re looking for rich colors and a clean picture from an older television, plasma is the perfect choice.
Cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions probably bring to mind images of security cameras and between-channel static, but these box TVs are still valuable today for certain kinds of entertainment. If you’ve ever seen games from your childhood played on modern devices, you might remember the graphics looking better in the past than they do now. There’s more to that strange feeling than nostalgia!
CRT TVs display picture line-by-line instead of dot-by-dot as modern pixelated TVs work, so pixel artists designed with this in mind. The color bleeding and blending created by cathode-ray tubes display softened pixel designs and created effects such as transparency and shadows from low-resolution art. If you’re looking to recapture the old days with retro gaming, consider having a CRT television set up with your older consoles.
The next thing you’ll want to consider when choosing your style of television is the capabilities of each generation of device. More modern televisions boast a huge range of features that increase usability or cater to specific lifestyles. Some of the most common traits people shop for are listed below.
Smart TVs—like smartphones, smartwatches, and any other “smart” devices—have capabilities or functions similar to computers. These devices typically have some amount of programmability and deeper setting menus. The biggest advantage of a smart TV is the ability to connect to Wi-Fi without the use of a gaming console or other input, allowing viewers to enjoy streaming services and applications. Smart TVs can also be programmed to include parental controls for limiting screen time for any kids in your household.
Built-in Streaming Services
As they’ve become a staple of modern entertainment, many smart TVs are focusing on streaming platforms. These TVs can come with extended wireless reception and pre-downloaded streaming apps, if not the brand’s own streaming app. Buyers will still need to have paid memberships with all of these platforms, however, so the benefit lies in the convenience of not having a separate device hosting the services and taking up an HDMI port.
Voice and Smartphone Control
If you aren’t looking to add to a collection of remotes with your new TV, looking for one with voice or smartphone control capabilities is your best option. This modern accessibility feature allows for voice activation and shut down as well as navigation. In the case of the smartphone, it turns your phone into the remote. Similarly, some smart TVs include a setting for private listening, playing audio through Bluetooth headphones, or through a phone speaker instead of the TV’s built-in speakers.
Perhaps the most significant feature you should consider is the television’s resolution. A large screen at a low resolution only does so much for your picture, but at the same time, not every piece of media is meant to be viewed in the highest definition available. Modern TVs range from 720p resolution to an impressive 8K picture. Resolution is reflected in the TV’s price and the price of its parts. Blu-Ray discs are optimized for 1080p viewing but 4k options are now on the market alongside similarly high-definition video games. Consider the media you intend to watch before settling on a device resolution.
When shopping for a new or used television, there are many things to consider other than if the device fits on your wall. This guide to different types of televisions by technology gives you a foundation for what to look for before buying your next TV, but you’ll find there are other factors to consider as well. Available USB ports, ease of access settings, and even repairability may impact your decision.
If you’ve gotten your hands on a style of TV that you love, keeping it in good shape is going to prove important to giving it a long life. Our thoroughly tested TV replacement parts—from a variety of TV power supply boards to LCD panels—will give you peace of mind when something goes wrong. Once installed properly, these parts will work like new and keep your TV running great.