5 April 2013 by Shifali Rao
The best HDTVs to play movies these days are either Plasma or LED both known for their superior performance though in slightly different ambient settings.
LED TVs use a panel of Light Emitting Diodes either behind the LCD screen (Direct-lit) or around the display panel (edge-lit), to light up the screen. For movie buffs who desire the best in picture quality, we recommend the Direct-lit LED TVs, that implement the local dimming feature which allows specific groups of LEDs to be turned off to obtain richer blacks for greater detail. LED TVs have a high brightness output and are therefore perfect for well lit rooms. Another main factor for movies is the response time of the LCD panel, which defines the amount of time the pixels take to change to go from one value to another. A quick response time means you can watch action packed, fast paced scenes without any motion blur. The best LED TV for movies come with rapid response times of 2 ms or less.
Plasma TVs on the other hand do not use a backlighting technology since the plasma itself serves as the necessary light source. Plasma TVs are touted for their high contrast ratios which outdo even direct-lit LED TVs with local dimming. This is mainly due to the fact that in a Plasma TV, the light source for each pixel is independent of the other, so you can have a complete white spot next to a totally black pixel. However, Plasma TVs have a slightly lower light output when compared to LED TVs and are best for darker rooms. They also tend to reflect ambient light due to their glass screens. What's more, plasma TVs do not have an issue with motion blur either as they typically have next to no response time. They are therefore great for sports channels and gaming too.
In addition, if you're considering a television for movies, have a look around your room to see the kind of seating arrangement you might set up. Even the best LED TVs might have an issue with the viewing angle which means the picture quality tends to fade as you move away from the center, so for a large room you might require a large screen. With a plasma TV however, this isn't an issue since plasma sets have the best viewing angles. Broadly speaking experts suggest a viewing distance of 2.5 times the screen size.
Coming to other features you might want while watching movies we arrive at the much raved about 3D feature. 3D TVs can either be passive or active in kind.
Active 3D is the more conventional form of 3D viewing in which your TV generates an image for the left eye and then one for the right, alternatively at such a rapid pace that we see a free flowing picture. When the tv displays an image for the left eye it gives an instruction to the Active shutter glasses to shut out picture in the right lens, and vice versa; thus compelling us to see two different perspectives of the scene, one with each eye and consequently achieving the 3 dimensional effect. With Active 3D you can watch your movie in its full intended resolution. Active 3D TVs are supported by brands like Samsung, Sony and Panasonic and can work with either LED or Plasma sets.
The latest 3D technology, Passive 3D, uses polarized glasses whose lenses are polarized in such a way as to display only certain pixels to each eye, serving to create a 3D effect with less motion blur and less flickering. Passive 3D is cheaper, less bulky and does not require batteries. On the downside, the passive 3D system works in such a way that 3D content can only be viewed in half the resolution of the 2D content on the same television. Passive 3D was supported until recently by only LG and Vizio although many other manufacturers are now switching over to passive. Passive 3D can only be viewed on LED TVs and are not supported on plasma sets.
Our list of the best TVs for movies is narrowed down to the top rated HDTVs which have a response time of 5 ms or less.