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HDTV 2009
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2009 saw the introduction of Internet-capable HDTVs and also Internet-capable Blu-ray Players with Wi-Fi.


Blu-ray Players -
Sony BDP-N460 Network Blu-ray Disc player
Samsung BD-P4600 Blu-ray Disc player

Learn about BD-LIVE
Blu-ray Basics


Plasma HDTVs do not use a backlight as plasma produces light from the red, green and blue phosphors in the display panel. LCD HDTVs need a light in back of the LCD panel because the liquid crystals do not produce light themselves. Traditional LCD HDTVs have used fluorescent lights in back. On a typical LCD HDTV, fluorescent lights provide the backlighting through a special plastic sheet called a light guide that distributes light from a fluorescent tube evenly over the TV. On an LED-backlit HDTV, fluorescent tubes are replaced with light-emitting diodes - LEDs. They can be either situated along the edges of the TV or arranged directly behind the screen in a grid.

The Benefit of LEDs

The most obvious reason LEDs have fallen into favor in LCD TVs: they're simply more efficient. Although fluorescent lights do a decent job, LEDs perform even better. Typically, manufacturers claim an efficiency improvement of up to 30 percent over fluorescent-based sets, which can add up significantly over the lifetime of a TV. LEDs are also much smaller than tubes, even after accounting for the number of them needed to light an entire TV. That means LED-backlit televisions can be manufactured significantly thinner. Most of the ultra-thin televisions that measured under an inch thick use LED backlights, because they add very little depth to the profile. They're significantly skinnier than their fluorescent-backlit counterparts.

Image quality

Because fluorescent tubes must light the entire screen evenly, designers have no way to vary the backlighting intensity in different parts of the screen. Even if you want to show a single white pixel on an all-black screen, the light needs to be blazing away in back. But with some LED setups, lighting different parts of the screen separately becomes possible, allowing the lighting to actually improve the image.

Sony's 2005 Qualia KDX-46Q005 was the first LED-backlit LCD TV

It's made possible by a technique called local dimming, which can only occur on TVs that offer "full-array backlighting." These TVs arrange the individual LEDs – up to 1,500 of them – in a grid behind the LCD, rather than clustering them around the edges as you'll find on "edge-lit" screens. Because each LED lights a specific part of the screen, they can intelligently brighten or darken different zones of the screen to match the content being displayed on the LCD panel. Not only does this improve efficiency, since not all the lights are running all the time, it improves contrast, producing blacker blacks and whiter whites on the same screen.

Keep in mind that not all LED TVs can achieve this effect. Many of the super-thin LED televisions you'll find use edge LED lighting to reduce their side profiles, making them slimmer and more efficient, but unable to "turn off" different parts of the screen intelligently the same way a full-array set can. Always make a point of discerning between edge-lit and full-array backlighting, and go with full-array, unless a thin profile is your number one priority.

LED backlighting boosts LCD performance in efficiency and image quality, while making TVs slimmer in the process. Some of the first full-array LED TVs were LG's 55LH90 and Toshiba's Regza 46SV670U. LED technology still carries a hefty price tag, making plasma an alternative for the less energy-conscious consumer.

LED TVs - Local dimming vs. edge-lit

When you see the words "LED TV", it refers to an LCD TV, but there's no guaranteeing that local-dimming technology is also on board. All LCD-based TVs rely on a backlight of some kind to illuminate the LCD panel itself. Most utilize fluorescent backlights, known as CCFL, but a growing number employ LEDs instead. LEDs use less power but their main picture quality advantage is the capability to deliver deep black levels that rival, and in some circumstances surpass, those of the best plasma sets.

There are two major versions of LED backlights illuminating today's LCD TVs. One is called local dimming, found on sets like the Toshiba SV670, LG LH90, Sony XBR8, and Samsung A950. It allows the backlight to dim or turn off in different areas across the screen. The other version, known as edge-lit, is found on sets such as the Samsung B7000 and B6000 models, and gets its name from the arrangement of the LEDs along the edge of the screen, allowing for extremely thin cabinet designs.

Branded simply as LED TVs, Samsung's 6000-, 7000- and 8000-series panels feature a new optical engine for their backlight unit. Available in up to 55-inch screen sizes, they're more advanced than their traditional fluorescent lamp- and LED-based counterparts through cleverly bending and diffusing light. The latest edge-lit LED backlight unit is Samsung's fourth design since 2006. The magic ingredient: Light guide plate

The Korean company's edge-lit LED backlight unit comprises two major components: A long LED module with a row of tiny white diodes and a thin screen-sized plastic sheet known as a light guide plate. Four LED modules will be deployed for the left, right, top and bottom of the panel. The combined light output is then funneled and redistributed evenly across the screen with a notable caveat. The current implementation does not support local dimming which selectively illuminates different sections of the display. Essentially, the edge-lit LED system lacks fine backlight control compared with its predecessor.

White light LEDs - There are two primary ways of producing high intensity white-light using LEDs. One is to use individual LEDs that emit three primary colors – red, green, and blue, and then mix all the colors to produce white light. The other is to use a phosphor material to convert monochromatic light from a blue or UV LED to broad-spectrum white light, much in the same way a fluorescent light bulb works.

LEDs can very easily be dimmed either by Pulse-width modulation or lowering the forward current.

Cool light:
In contrast to most light sources, LEDs radiate very little heat in the form of IR that can cause damage to sensitive objects or fabrics. Wasted energy is dispersed as heat through the base of the LED.

Slow failure:
LEDs mostly fail by dimming over time, rather than the abrupt burn-out like incandescent bulbs.

LEDs can have a relatively long useful life. One report estimates 35,000 to 50,000 hours of useful life, though time to complete failure may be longer. Fluorescent tubes typically are rated at about 10,000 to 15,000 hours, depending partly on the conditions of use, and incandescent light bulbs at 1,000–2,000 hours.

Shock resistance:
LEDs, being solid state components, are difficult to damage with external shock, unlike fluorescent and incandescent bulbs which are fragile.

The solid package of the LED can be designed to focus its light. Incandescent and fluorescent sources often require an external reflector to collect light and direct it in a usable manner.

LEDs do not contain mercury, unlike fluorescent lamps.

High initial price: LEDs are currently more expensive, price per lumen, on an initial capital cost basis, than most conventional lighting technologies. The additional expense partially stems from the relatively low lumen output and the drive circuitry and power supplies needed. However, when considering the total cost of ownership (including energy and maintenance costs), LEDs far surpass incandescent or halogen sources and begin to threaten compact fluorescent lamps.

Temperature dependence:
LED performance largely depends on the ambient temperature of the operating environment. Over-driving the LED in high ambient temperatures may result in overheating of the LED package, eventually leading to device failure. Adequate heat-sinking is required to maintain long life.

Light quality:
Most cool-white LEDs have spectra that differ significantly from a black body radiator like the sun or an incandescent light. The spike at 460 nm and dip at 500 nm can cause the color of objects to be perceived differently under cool-white LED illumination than sunlight or incandescent sources, due to metamerism, red surfaces being rendered particularly badly by typical phosphor based cool-white LEDs. However, the color rendering properties of common fluorescent lamps are often inferior to what is now available in state-of-art white LEDs.

Local dimming vs. edge-lit LED LCD HDTVs -
Samsung UN55B8500 LED HDTV with local dimming. Price: about $4,000 (2009)

Samsung's most advanced HDTV for 2009, the UN55B8500.

Samsung UN55B8500
Ultra-thin 55" 1080p LCD HDTV with 240Hz refresh rate and local-dimming LED backlighting

The Samsung UN55B8500 features the same cutting-edge technologies as the UN55B8000, and adds:
a local-dimming LED backlight that more precisely illuminates light and dark portions of the same image
7,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio

An LED backlight with local dimming for improved picture contrast

While conventional LCD HDTVs use a fluorescent backlight, the UN55B8500 uses an LED backlighting system. An array of bright white LEDs behind the LCD panel illuminates the image. The UN55B8500 also features "local dimming," which means that the brightness level of different sections of the LED array can be controlled independently. This allows the Samsung UN55B8500 HDTV to display both light and dark portions of the same image with remarkable accuracy. An LED backlight is also more energy-efficient. In fact, Samsung's 2009 LED HDTVs consume up to 40% less power than last year's conventional LCD sets.

240Hz refresh rate for super-clean motion
A 60Hz screen refresh rate is still the norm for LCD TVs, but the UN55B8500 is four times faster at 240Hz. Samsung's Auto Motion Plus technology inserts three entirely new frames in between each original one, creating the clearest picture with the smoothest motion possible on an LCD set. Images look incredibly clean and lifelike, no matter how hectic the on-screen action gets. You'll definitely want to give this TV a look if you're a fan of sports, action movies, or video games.

A rear Ethernet port lets you use your broadband Internet connection to access Yahoo! Widgets, for services such as Yahoo! News, Flickr, and USA Today. With the touch of a button, these web Widgets appear in a "dock" at the bottom of the screen, so your TV viewing can continue without interruption. Or, plug a thumb drive into the USB port on the side of the TV and watch your favorite video clips. If you connect the optional wireless USB adapter, you can enjoy this set's networking capabilities without running Ethernet cable.

With four HDMI inputs and a component video input, the UN55B8500 makes it easy to connect your high-definition gear. The HDMI inputs offer "CEC" control, which lets you operate compatible HDMI-equipped Samsung components using only the TV's remote. You can, for example, control components hidden away in a cabinet without using a remote repeater system. The component video input doubles as a composite input, so you can connect your old VCR or camcorder, too.

LED HDTV - Samsung UN55B8500 55 inch Fall 2009

54.6" screen (measured diagonally)
widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio
Touch of Color™ reflective acrylic bezel
built-in digital (ATSC) and analog (NTSC) tuners for over-the-air TV broadcasts (antenna required)
built-in QAM cable TV tuner receives unscrambled programs without a set-top box (cable service required)
Ultra Clear LCD panel (1920 x 1080 pixels)
LED backlight with local dimming for high contrast and natural colors
Auto Motion Plus 240Hz™ anti-blur technology for clearer motion
2-millisecond pixel response time
7,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
1-tuner picture-in-picture
built-in down-firing stereo speakers (15 watts x 2)
Internet-capable with Internet@TV content streaming and customizable Widgets (requires broadband service)
can stream content from a DLNA-compliant media server (wireless capable with optional USB adapter)
pre-loaded HD content, including an image gallery, recipes, and games
illuminated remote control
Anynet+ simplifies control of compatible Samsung components via the HDMI connection (HDMI-CEC)
picture settings memory for each video input

Connections and Dimensions:
5 A/V inputs, including:
1 component video (selectable component/composite)
4 HDMI v1.3 — accepts signals up to 1080p (60Hz, 24Hz)
PC input: analog RGB (D-Sub 15-pin)
RF input for antenna/cable signals
Ethernet port
optical digital audio output for Dolby® Digital
stereo minijack audio output (mini-to-RCA adapter required for a connection to most audio components)
2 USB ports (1 for digital video/photo/MP3 playback, 1 for Samsung's wireless USB adapter)
Energy Star® 3.0 compliant
detachable swivel stand
wall-mountable (bracket not included)
52-1/8"W x 31-1/2"H x 1-5/8"D (34"H x 12-1/8"D on stand)
weight: 77.6 lbs. with stand; 61.7 lbs. without stand
warranty: 1 year

Samsung UN55B8000 LED TV LED edge-lit - Price: about $3,000 Fall 2009

At 29.9mm (just over an inch) thin, the Samsung UN55B8000 is one of the slimmest TVs to date.

Display Type LCD
Screen Size 54.6"
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Screen Resolution (pixels) 1920 x 1080
Screen Refresh Rate 240Hz
Backlighting Type LED (edge-lit white)
Over-the-Air Tuner ATSC
QAM Cable TV Tuner Yes
CableCard Compatible No
1080p Input Yes
TV Guide Service No
Picture In Picture 1 Tuner
Internet Capable Internet TV
Remote TV only
Illuminated Remote Yes
V-Chip Yes
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Total Video Inputs 5
HDMI Inputs 4 Rear
Component Video Inputs 1 Rear
S-Video Inputs None
Composite Video Inputs None
RF Inputs 1
PC Input Rear

Ethernet Port Rear
Digital Media Inputs USB x 2 (Media Play/WiFi adapt Rear
Digital Audio Outputs Optical
Analog Audio Inputs 1 Rear
Analog Audio Outputs 1 Rear
Power Consumption
Standby 1 watt
Power On 150 watts
Dimensions & Mounting Information
Panel Width (inches) 52-1/8
Panel Height (inches) 31-3/8
Panel Depth (inches) 1-5/8
Width with Stand (inches) 52-1/8
Height with Stand (inches) 34
Depth with Stand (inches) 12-1/8
Footprint Width (inches) 23
Footprint Depth (inches) 12-1/8
Weight 64 lbs
Wall Mountable Yes
Wall Bracket Included No

Samsung LED HDTVs - Samsung's UNB6000, UNB7000 and UNB8000 LED HDTVs
Ultra-thin 1080p LCD HDTV with 240Hz anti-blur technology and LED backlighting

Main wireless remote control (BN59-00849A)

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Panasonic 65 inch HDTV 2009
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How to add great sound to your HDTV
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Surround Sound Glossary
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