Tube TVs: Pretty much gone the way of the dodo

While standard-definition TVs have not yet completely disappeared from retail, that day is not far off. Certainly, choices are very limited, and manufacturers we consulted are not offering new models for 2011. Still, standard-definition tube TVs can still fill a role -- as an inexpensive TV for a child's room, for example, though you can now find LCD HDTVs of similar screen sizes at or near the same price. But, at smaller screen sizes where HD isn't as important a consideration, tube TVs offer some picture advantages, including wide viewing angles and deeper blacks than LCD. Here are some other things to consider.

  • All new televisions are now digital TVs. All new televisions now have digital tuners. That means your TV will be able to receive digital television signals along with unscrambled HDTV signals over the air or with a cable box. However, any HDTV signals will be down-converted and displayed at a greatly reduced resolution.
  • Consider sound quality. The quality of the built-in speakers matters greatly if you won't be feeding the TV's audio to an external sound system. If you do plan to use an external sound system, make sure the TV you select has an audio output, and a digital audio output is a must if you want to hear surround sound.
  • All standard-definition CRT TVs are 4:3 format. High-definition content comes delivered in 16:9 format, as do DVD movies (many DVD movies are still offered in a 4:3 format -- those are typically labeled "fullscreen"). Viewing 16:9 content on a 4:3 television means that it will be letterboxed, resulting in a smaller image size, perhaps too small on a small-screen TV. However, smaller 4:3 televisions are fine if you are not watching very much widescreen programming.
  • Other technologies offer more choice. As the number of still available standard televisions dwindles, other technologies, especially LCD, become more attractive. The price gap between budget LCD TVs and standard TVs has almost completely closed. Most LCD TVs have more features as well, starting with the ability to display HDTV programming in high-def.

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