LED TV’s explained.

What’s the difference between LCD and LED TV’s? This is a question I get asked a lot, it has a very simple answer. LCD TV’s have been around for a while now, infact LCD technology was discovered in the late 1800′s. Since the 70′s we’re seeing a massive increase in their use, from calculators to watches to computer monitors and televisions.

In computer monitors and televisions the LCD panel needs to pass light through it to be able to see the image. Before LED (Light Emitting Diode) backlighting they used fluro lamps or similar lighting, this required a thick back on the unit to accomodate the lights. Now they use LED backlighting which allows a smaller cabinet for your TV (we’re talking 1-2mm thick) and more evenly distributed lighting to allow a clearer picture. LED backlighting also has a much lower environmental footprint, requring much less power to operate then standard backlighting. So essentially, your still buying an LCD TV, it’s just got a smaller profile and a different name.

Just a side note: LCD manufacturers are also doing something kind of cool. They’re allowing some LED’s to become dimmer then others actively, to allow better contrasting (deeper blacks, brighter colours) in the picture.

Why does 3DTV use glasses?

3D got thrown hard into the spotlight last year. With the help from James Camerons’ Avatar, 3D fast became the focal point of technology for 2010. 2011 is set to expand on 3D technologies even further. The hype makes sense, apart from Avatars terrible story, the 3D visuals we’re stunning, and it showed the world the possibilities of extending the entertainment capabilities of future televisions and home entertainment.

The major drawback of 3D at the moment is the need to use the glasses. If you seen any 3D movie at the cinema, and used a 3DTV you will notice a few differences in the glasses. The glasses at the cinema needed no battery, just put them on and watch, perfect! So why do 3DTV’s use powered glasses (Better known as Active 3D Glasses). The reason behind this is simple enough, at the cinema the picture for each eye is actually projected onto the screen simultaneously. The light of each picture (Left eye picture, Right eye picture) is polarized a different way, either vertically or horizontally, just like polarized sunglasses they only let light in which is polarised in it’s set direction.

3D TV currently uses a different method to produce the 3D effect. The glasses needs the batteries to run the two LCD panels inside the glasses, one for each eye. LCD panels have the ability to either allow light to pass, or block light all together. So what actually happens is, the TV will show an image for the left eye, then right eye, then left eye etc… As this is happening the television transmits a signal to the glasses to tell it which eye should be on, which off. Technically your only looking through one eye at a time, but because this all happens so fast your brain doesn’t percieve the difference and just renders both images together as a complete 3D image! What it does percieve, however, is a less vibrant picture, partly due to the flickering glasses, but mostly because polarized panels can’t be 100% clear.

The best news is, 3D Televisions won’t always require the glasses for too long. Infact, Toshiba and other companies are working on a 3DTV using a special lens which directs the left/right images into the appropriate eye. We’ll have to wait and see how this works out, until then, we can enjoy the occasional 3D movie or game on our Plasma TV by proudly wearing our unsightly goggles.

SHARP’s new Quattron Quad Pixel technology – Just when I thought I’ve seen everything!

SHARP Quattron Logo

SHARP Quattron

So, just when you think you’ve seen everything, the innovative people at SHARP decide to throw you a curve ball… As it turns out, none of us have ever seen the colour yellow on TV before. I found this hard to believe considering I spent the majority of my childhood prime times glued to the TV set watching the Simpsons, so… Where’s the need for SHARP to introduce us to this yellow pixel?

We need to clear something up here. There is actually a noticable difference between true yellow and the yellow displayed on current televisions. See, the way your TV displays colours is mixing a combination of 3 primary colours – red, blue and green. These 3 elements together make a single pixel, we can now call this Tri-Pixel technology, or standard pixels. The colour yellow is hard to achieve with this system, and there is a very low combination of the types of yellow you can create. The quad pixel technology takes this all one step further. It adds the yellow pixel into the pie and allows for even more combinations of colours with stunning results.

Like all new technology, theres a sore point. Because we’ve been using the standard RGB combination over the years, current signals only allow for RGB signals, so the SHARP TV must have to use processing to acheive the promised results. This isn’t a problem though, it just means there will be a wait for blu-ray players and TV signals to start encoding the yellow pixel into the signals, the exact same scenario as with 3D TV’s.

So the question we’re all asking, is it worth it? This is a hard one to answer. There is definitly a need for it in some applications, and the future needs awesomeness and giving a true mix of colours is the next logical step, but I’m still working under the impression that Homer Simpson is, and always has been yellow!

Needless to say, SHARP have always made impressive display products, and I normally get a little excited when one which comes in for repair. The quality of these things are amazing and unfortuently (for me) they don’t fail very often at all. And after seeing the demonstration model of the SHARP Quattron LED TV I’ve become very excited about the sudden innovations in television technology.

I have to applaud the television advertisment I first seen, I thought it was spot on! I figured it’ll be hard to show the benefits of a yellow pixel using a television commercial displayed on TV’s without the yellow pixel… See it for yourself.