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Friday, 12 June 2009 15:44

New LCD TVs compete where it hertz

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The launch of Sony’s new Z5500 series 52 inch LCD TV and its “2nd-generation 200Hz” technology is competing with LG’s new 200Hz models, while Samsung and Panasonic are upping the plasma ante with “600Hz”screens they naturally say deliver better picture quality than 200Hz LCDs – but your eyes will have to be the judge!

Every year TV manufacturers seek to deliver new models with better, brighter, smoother, richer and bigger images than the year before, and this year the early battle in the LCD world was against Sony’s launch of 200Hz LCD TV.

At another Sony TV launch last month, Sony’s then new, 1st generation 200Hz Bravia was demonstated next to the earlier 100Hz model and the earlier 50Hz model before that, with the same video showing on all three screens.

The 50Hz is slowly stuttering along as a video of a desk globe of the Earth spins on screen, and other “motion” footage, the 100Hz is noticeably smoother, and naturally, the 200Hz screen looks smoothest of all, with all three screens completely in sync.

Now Sony boasts that its new Z5500 series, which arrives next month in a 40-inch (AUD $3499), 46-inch ($4199) and the headline 52-inch screen size ($5199), and it’s the first from Sony to offer its “2nd-gen 200Hz” system - just in time to defend against LG’s new 200Hz screens and the 600Hz plasmas from Panasonic and Samsung for the 2009 shopping season.

Each company says its technology is the best. Current.com.au’s Grant Shepherd quoted Sony’s “Technology Communications Manager”, Paul Colley, explaining at the Z5500 series launch that “This new model is not just 200Hz, it’s the 2nd Generation of 200Hz, which further improves and sharpens all aspects of motion. Most 200Hz can’t handle vertical motion correctly; the new Bravia Z55 handles it perfectly.”

LG’s website makes no mention of “vertical motion”, but naturally disses “other 200Hz technologies” which “use an interpolation system which creates “ new frames” between each true frame. These interpolated frames are the TV’s best guess as to what should appear" - but presumably this is referring to Sony's 1st-gen 200Hz tech.

LG explains that its “TruMotion 200hz uses a different approach with frame insertion plus scanning backlight technology. By flashing on and off, the backlight produces actual black frames between true frames and inserted frames and therefore reduces motion blur, increasing sharpness and improving contrast level in dark scenes.”

It'll be intersting to see the latest model of each side-by-side with the same content to compare!

The plasma guys are fighting back with plasma screens offering a 600Hz "sub field drive", and this is also supposed to improve motion and picture quality.

Plasma is already supposed to have much better motion quality than LCD in the first place, which is why LCDs were improved to 100Hz and then 1st-gen 200Hz in the first place, to combat plasma's superiority in that area.

So plasma needs a "Hz" number too for competitive reasons, even though plasma and LCD are two different technologies. For now 600 is it, which sounds better than 200, and so the marketing and in-store sales battles continue!

Debate rages on the Internet as to which is better – everyone seems to have a different opinion as to why 200Hz, 60Hz, 24p, 600Hz, Laser TV, OLED or something else is the superior viewing solution.

Won’t next year offer even better screens and some new technology? Please read on to page 2.


Every year new TVs are appearing promising better picture quality than the previous model, and hopefully those of all competitors.

If you own the previous model, the latest from that company should be a big improvement, but really it comes down to how much of a video aficionado you really are, and how much money you want to spend on a TV!

Aldi Supermarkets was selling a 42-inch 1080P LCD TV, 100Hz, HD tuner, several HDMI ports, VGA, etc for AUD $999. Back in July 2008 a similar earlier model sold for $1399. While these models surely aren’t up to the heights of today’s $3000 to $5000+ models, they make a 42-inch or larger flat screen affordable to anyone, and still deliver a great big image fine for most consumers.

If you’re a true film buff demanding only the best at-home cinematic experience, then you probably already own a Pioneer Kuro plasma TV, but it is great to see competition delivering real improvements to picture quality.

No doubt next year’s models will offer even better picture quality, but if you’re in the market for a TV now or this year, there’s strong competition between all players.

If you’re spending $5000, which is a lot of money in the global recession, then make sure you get to see some motion footage (from a sports game, or movie) that you’ve selected yourself, and watch it on the different TVs you’re considering – and let your eyes be the judge, influenced as much or as little by all the online reviews now available for whichever models you consider.

Remember that in store demo TVs are usually set to the brightest settings to compete against store lights and the other TVs – you really need to be able to compare the models in a home cinema room, and if you’re spending $5000+ on a new TV, rather than $999, I think you’d want to do so.

Just remember – 3D TVs could well be widely on sale at retail within the next couple of years and you’ll be encouraged to buy the latest 50+ inch 3DTV model – progress in the world of TV never stops!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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