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LCD, LED, OLED or Plasma - which is right for me?

The first thing to work out when you're after a TV is what size you need. If you're not sure, a good rule of thumb is that a TV is slightly less wide than its diagonal screen size. So if you've got a 40" wide space, a 40" TV will fit there! If you look up recommendations for size based on viewing distance you'll find swathes of different opinions so it's best to come and have a look to judge what's best for you.

Next is the technology - LCD, LED, plasma or OLED. Without getting bogged down in technical mumbo-jumbo, here's a quick run-down of their pros and cons.

LCD and LED are actually very similar as the latter is simply a more up-to-date version of the same tech. They're capable of exceptional brightness from fetchingly slim designs whilst keeping power consumption low too. The main downsides are that motion can be slightly blurry and pictures can look washed out if you prefer to watch in the dark.

Over the years there's been much misinformation about plasma, the truth about the technology is simple: it's your best bet in terms of pure picture quality, capable of reproducing the fastest movements without blur and high contrast for a wide range of realistic colours. The drawbacks are that it's more power hungry than competing systems and doesn't work very well in bright rooms.

OLED is the new kid on the TV block and, while it's been used for a while in small screens such as smartphones and cameras, big screen tellies using the tech are only just starting to break cover. OLED combines the best points of the two above technologies, with incredible contrast, very little blurring alongside massive brightness and low power consumption. The barrier for the moment is low availability and relatively high cost compared to LED and plasma, but hopefully these won't be issues for long.

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I want to know more about OLED!

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OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is a brand new TV display technology that's capable of incredibly realistic picture quality with very little compromise.

So how does it work, and why is it better? OLED screens use a thin film of an organic compound that lights up when electricity passes through it. This means the brightness of every single dot on the screen is controlled independently, so a completely black pixel can be right beside a fully white one, giving punchy dramatic colours with far higher contrast than the always-on backlights found in LED sets.

It also offers far wider viewing angles and quicker response times than LED, so everyone can enjoy blur free images. In this respect, OLEDs are more like plasma screens, only much slimmer and more power efficient.

OLED's film-like nature can also be used in interesting ways too, including curved screens. While a non-flat TV sounds completely bonkers, it's not as unusual as you might think; most cinema screens are curved to ensure that all the light arrives at its destination at the same time for an incredible immersive effect.

So is OLED the holy grail of TVs? Combining the beautiful slim-framed designs and light weight of LED with the contrast performance of plasma while using less power than both, it certainly could be!

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Ultra HD - the latest picture quality innovation

The technology that goes into making movies and TV shows is always improving. Most films, and even some TV series, are now made at resolutions far higher than the '1080p' we're used to watching on our current sets. The most common of these enhanced signal types is known as 4K, which for a long time has only been available to watch at high-end digital cinemas or on TVs with five-figure prices.

Not any more! New Ultra High Definition TVs bring this sensationally sharp picture quality home. Not only does this bring four times the clarity of conventional HD, there's also a huge boost to colour, with the capability to show shades that are simply not possible with the current system.

Regular HD, and even traditional standard definition TV shows and DVDs, still look amazing. Thanks to cutting edge processing the image looks smoother and more natural, eking all the detail from whatever you watch.

As you'd expect, an Ultra HD TV is bang up to date in every other respect too, with all of the Smart features you'd expect from a top-end TV including easy online access to your favourite TV shows and movies, voice control and Skype video calling capabilities to name but a few.

Get ahead of the curve with an Ultra High Definition TV and be ready for unparalleled picture quality.

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What makes a 'Smart TV' smart?

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In a nutshell, a Smart TV is one which can connect to the internet. No more huddling 'round a laptop to watch BBC iPlayer, now it can take the pride of place it deserves on your main TV. It's not just BBC iPlayer, though - other video services are available including Netflix, LOVEFiLM and Blinkbox. You may never have to buy a disc again!

A Smart TV can also set free videos, music and photos stored on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Most models will automatically show content in the shared folders of your desktop or laptop computer, so you can instantly enjoy it on a big screen. If you own a smartphone or tablet, things get even more clever, with apps that allow you to instantly beam to your TV - definitely a better way of sharing your holiday snaps than a small phone screen. You can also use these apps as swanky touchscreen remotes and the most advanced take system control to a whole new level, allowing you to control the set with your voice or even hand gestures.

One very cool feature we're seeing more of in Smart TV is recommendation, where just the touch of a button or simple voice command brings up a list of personalised programmes recommended just for you! If you often find yourself channel-hopping and watching repeats, this could be just what the doctor ordered. Smart TVs allow you to make the most of your new purchase, with more stuff for you to watch and straightforward easy-to-use interfaces.

If you want to see how it works for yourself, just pop down to your local store who'll be more than happy to show you.

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Are projectors as good as TVs?

A lot of people think that projectors don't have the picture quality to match a television so the only advantage you're getting is a massive screen size. This simply isn't the case as even modestly priced projectors will trade blows with price-equivalent TVs.

More advanced models, like those from JVC, achieve astounding picture quality that gives the cinema a run for its money! You won't miss out on current trends either - nearly all of the projectors we do are capable of showing 3D and the effect is much more impressive than on the relatively small screen of a television.

You can get a taste of the experience yourself in our demonstration rooms, which all have projectors set up and ready to blow you away. We'll also be able to show you home cinema systems that give sound to match the picture for a rip-roaring performance that brings TV shows, games and movies to life.

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Why do I need an AV receiver?

AV Receiver

An AV receiver is not just an amplifier, it's more of a home cinema hub. It connects to your TV, your speakers and your sources (Blu-ray player, set-top box, games consoles etc.), and makes sure the right picture's on the TV and the right sound comes out the speakers. In addition to making sure you get incredible surround sound most models can improve picture quality too.

A current major trend is networking and streaming capabilities, so your receiver can access internet radio, play music wirelessly from your phone and more. It may well be that your TV or Blu-ray player has this functionality too, but these are optimised for video and photos, not for tip-top sound quality. What's really cool is being able to control these functions intuitively from your smartphone or tablet's touchscreen.

If all this sounds too complicated, don't worry as AV receivers are easy to use. Setting them up can a bit of time, but thankfully is mostly automated, with guides that take you through the process step by step. For the ultimate piece of mind, we can take care of installation for you and walk you through how it all works once it's primed and ready to go.

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5.1, 7.1 and beyond - surround sound explained

5.1 systems feature six speakers dotted around the room, surrounding you with sound, for cinema action that leaps out at you. Surround left and right speakers provide ambient atmosphere and 'it’s behind you' sounds; front left and right speakers provide a clear stereo soundstage for action and a centre speaker, mounted directly above or below your TV, is there to make sure dialogue is clearly audible and feels like it’s coming straight from the talking heads on-screen. The extra .1 in the mix? The subwoofer – ideal at producing the heavy bass noises smaller speakers can’t.

So what’s 7.1?
This system adds two extra rear speakers for more accurate and subtle positioning of effects. Alternatively, you can place the additional speakers high up above your front speakers or further apart either side, known as 'height' or 'wide' front speakers. The idea of these is to make your room sound like a much bigger space than it actually is, that is to say more like a cinema!

When amps start going up to 9.1 or 11.1, this means using height and/or width speakers, as well as the extra rears for the ultimate in immersion. Whenever you see a .2 this means more subs are getting involved, giving a massive boost to bass - perfect for fans of big explosions. If what you’re watching isn’t recorded in surround sound, you can use your receiver’s Dolby Pro Logic or DTS Neo modes to make sure sound is pumping through all your speakers.

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What's a soundbar?

Soundbar

Traditional 5.1 and 7.1 multi-channel speaker systems remain the top choice if you’re looking for the very best surround sound experience, but if you want to avoid the complexity, cost or space implications of a full surround system, there is an alternative – the soundbar.

These subtle speaker bars mount above or underneath your TV and have much higher quality and more powerful speakers than you’d find inside a flatscreen TV. This allows for a much more immersive and engaging sound, especially when a subwoofer is included to take care of deep bass sounds. Some models employ multiple, angled speakers, which 'bounce' sound around the room to give the impression of surround sound. They don’t sound quite as impressive as a full home cinema amp and speakers set-up, but are a serious alternative if you’re limited for space.

Come and ask for a demo if you’re not convinced!

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    TSP = Typical Selling Price. TSPs are based on information supplied by What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision magazine, manufacturers, Hi-Fi Choice, Home Cinema Choice & Pricerunner. Further information is available on request.