Laser projector

Laser projectors are a type of Solid State Light (SSL) projector and do away with conventional light sources (bulb) altogether. This is replaced by laser diodes. The main advantage this brings is longer life, but there are also import advantages in the quality of light over time. While bulb-based projectors gradually deteriorate over time, laser diode ones stay every bit as crisp as when they were new.

LCD projector

One of the oldest, and generally the cheapest form of digital projector; creates an image by breaking a beam of light into its 3 primary hues before shining each one through a tiny LCD screen that displays the picture. The 3 hues are then recombined inside a prism before being beamed onto your screen.

LCoS Projector

LCoS stands for Liquid Crystal over Silicone. The light from the lamp is split into red, green and blue. The colours are then shone onto micro-devices, which contain liquid crystals atop a reflective surface. When an electric charge is administered, the liquid crystals alter their shape, and act like filters that control how much light hits the reflective surface according to desired brightness or contrast. The complete image is then recombined and projected onto the screen.

LED projector

LED projectors usually work alongside DLP technology but use an LED lamp rather than conventional bulb. This has the advantage of longer life and also a more consistent quality of light over time.

LED TV

LED TVs use essentially the same screen technology as LCD TV but with LED backlights, rather than fluorescent bulbs. This not only makes them more efficient and cheaper to run but also slimmer in depth and better able to dim local areas of the screen (see Local Dimming and Full Array Dimming below). Superior quality lighting means a brighter, purer picture with enhanced contrast.

Line-level or line input

A component or analogue connection operating at 'line' voltage. If a device has a line input it typically means that it is capable of either amplifying or recording from an audio source. A pair of white and red RCA plugs or a 3.5mm mini jack is the most common form of connection. Note that the output from a turntable is usually a lot lower than line-level and requires a phono pre-amp (see Phono pre-amp) – also known as a phonostage.

Local Dimming and Full Array dimming (TV)

Local dimming is a term used to describe the backlight on LCD/LED TVs. Local Dimming is superior to standard backlighting as it dims individual areas on the TV screen to enhance brightness and contrast. Full Array dimming is the next step up and uses even more individual zones of light control to get even closer to OLED (which dims each pixel individually).

Lossless

Lossless compression ensures perfect recreation of stored data in smaller-than-original file sizes. For all you audiophiles out there, it means you get to rip your favourite tracks to your computer without it chopping bits out of them to preserve storage space. When these files (often known as FLAC or Apple Lossless files) are played back, they retain every bit of their original detail - music to our ears. This is used in Hi-Res music (see High resolution audio) due to the relatively small file size, while maintaining quality.

Midrange (audio)

The middle of the frequency range, that sits between the bass and treble. The midrange handles most instruments and the human voice, so is of particular importance to musical replay. As most humans are most aware of the frequency of midrange that vocals use, many hi-fi components focus on accurate replay of the midrange at the expense of the rest of the frequency range.

Motion Processing - Refresh Rate

The standard refresh rate on TVs sold within the UK is 50Hz. This is the number of times a second the picture is "drawn". Higher quality TVs later increased this figure to 100Hz and then 200Hz. The higher the refresh rate the less flicker you'll notice and the picture should be more "solid" in appearance.

More recently, manufacturers have begun using their own measurement systems of motion processing and can't necessarily be compared between brands. Examples include LG - TruMotion (TM), Samsung – Picture Quality Index (PQI), Philips – Picture Performance Index (PPI), Sony - Motionflow XR and Panasonic – Back Light Motion Rate (BMR). All these figures are twice or more of the traditional 100Hz/200Hz refresh rate figures. Higher figures should equate to smoother motion but remember to stick to individual manufacturers if you want to compare like with like. The best way to compare the motion of TVs is to demonstrate scrolling text. The better the screen, the smoother the image will be.

Moving coil, moving magnet

Types of phono cartridge for your turntable. Moving Coil cartridges generally require a special phono stage and are found in high-end systems. Moving Coil cartridges generally have a flatter, more accurate response, but do not have replaceable styli, unlike the more cost effective Moving Magnet option. Whichever type of cartridge you use, it’s important to match to the correct type of phono pre-amp (MM or MC).

Multi-region (DVD)

If you want to play DVD’s from America, or most places outside Europe for that matter, you’ll need a multi-region DVD player. Discs are encoded in 6 different regions (with the UK falling into region 2). A standard DVD player will only play region 2 discs.

NAS drive

An external hard drive with a twist! NAS stands for "Network Attached Storage" meaning that once you plug your NAS drive into your wireless router, you can fill it with music, movies, even photos and important documents. All of these can then be easily accessed by any other devices operating on the same internet connection - so you can back up all your favourite media, and still get your hands on it without even switching on your computer - ideal for anyone with a wireless streaming system (see Network streamer).

Network streamer

One of the newer additions to the world of hi-fi separates, a network streamer piggybacks onto your router in order to give you access to a variety of Smart services. For example, should you have any music stored on your home PC or on a NAS drive; the network streamer can discover it and play it through your hi-fi, all at the touch of a button. Depending on the model, you may also get direct access to streaming services like Spotify and Tidal that, with a subscription, will give you unlimited access to a library of music that you can listen to whenever you like. Add an internet radio service into all that and you've got a massive mine of musical multiplicity!

NFC - Near Field Communication

NFC (near field communication) allows close proximity connection simply by holding your tablet or smartphone next to the device. Once paired you can either stream music (Bluetooth enabled speaker), or send files (to other smartphones / tablets etc.)

Ohm

The measurement of electrical resistance, in hi-fi this is used to measure the impedance of a speaker.

OLED

OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is an advanced form of TV technology that’s used in some of the finest TVs on sale. Unlike LED, which uses backlights shone through groups of pixels, each OLED pixel is individually illuminated. This gives OLED TVs stunning levels of contrast as a bright white pixel can be directly next to a pitch-black one – something almost impossible to achieve with LCD/LED TVs. This means black levels are far better than LED TVs and ‘inky’ deep.