Myths in HDTV: Viewing Angle
Myth: HDTV looks horrible when viewed from an angle.
Debunk: Cover your angles before heading to the local electronics stores.
Here is a fragment from a question I was recently asked by someone looking into buying a new HDTV. The potential buyer innocently mentioned swiveling as a feature he was looking into on his upcoming flat panel purchase. This raised alarms about viewing angle and some of the misconceptions people often have when it comes to HDTV.
I am thinking about that HTDV I've always wanted. I think it's going to be 37" flat panel, any larger and you probably have to buy really expensive mounting brackets and they won't swivel.
I'd like to comment on swiveling. As cool a feature as it can be, I hope you don't feel your new HDTV should swivel because you've heard about HDTVs with limited angular viewing range.
Limited angular viewing range has been a classic issue in rear projector TV sets even before HDTV came along. We've always had to view rear projector TV screens straight on to get the best picture. Any viewing angle to the left or right of the screen results in diminished brightness and sometimes an obscured picture.
Remember, this issue mainly exists for rear projection display technology, not for flat panel displays.
Rear Projection or Microdisplay HDTV Types:
- LCD Rear Projectors
- DLP (Digital Light Processing)
- LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon)
- CRT Rear Projector (Cathode Ray Tube)
LCD and CRT are specified rear projector technologies because both displays can be had in either rear projector or direct view. ALL rear projector displays will offer a slightly diminished picture quality when viewing from the periphery.
Direct view display technologies do not have this problem. ANY flat panel HDTV you choose is a direct view display technology and will not suffer the classic issue of diminished quality from angular viewing.
Even rear projection sets nowadays have come a long way in the design of lenticular screens and lenses. These newer HDTVs allow for better viewing from surprisingly steep angles. But angular viewing will never be perfect on any set, even direct view display types.
The optimal viewing angle for any TV is straight ahead. Even having the TV too high or too low is a problem. Viewing angle is good to keep in mind when auditioning new TVs at the store.
When shopping for a new HDTV, you should look at a lot of screens. Chances are, you're going to look at many new sets on display and you'll probably stand too high and too close to most of those displays for optimal viewing.
Many people interested in a 50 – 60-inch HDTV might be afraid of rear projection technologies because of the viewing angle issues they've heard about.
Many may also be delusional about the size of their living-room. In a modest sized room there is nowhere you can sit that would provide a viewing angle steep enough to distort the quality of the picture. The room simply isn't big enough.
The truth is that if you're shy about rear projection HDTVs, it should be because of reliability and bulb replacement. In its 2007 Buying Guide, Consumer Reports cites Microdisplays as the least reliable type of HDTV. You might want to actually consider an extended warranty on a rear projector. Rear projectors require bulb replacement from 2,000 to 6,000 hours of running time at a cost between $200 and $400 dollars.
These are compelling reasons not to consider a rear projection HDTV. But looking at the cost per-inch of screen size between flat panel and rear projection is a good incentive to be prepared to replace bulbs. Comparatively, rear projectors can be a serious bargain to shoppers.