The next time you go shopping for an HDTV, bring a USB "toolkit" of images to help evaluate the screen and image quality. You'll get a better sense of any issues with the set than you will watching gaudy demo-reels.
It's tough to get a clear idea of what an HDTV picture looks like from the showroom floor. Showrooms are poorly lit, the video is usually too bright and over-saturated, and the viewing angles are often less than ideal. Even with that stacked against you it's possible to get a sense of how well the screen performs with a few simple tests. At the computer and technology site MaximumPC they've put together a great guide to buying the right HDTV. Among the tips they offer:
Small box retailers will often let you bring your own favourite DVDs and Blu-ray discs – big and medium box retailers typically will not. However, they're a great evaluation tool because you have a pretty good idea what the pictures should look like. Four of my favorites: Seabiscuit, because of the great facial close-ups and indoor scenes; Dark City and Escape from New York, because they evaluate very dark picture quality; and Over America for the fast-moving spectacular day and night scenes. Make a list of the chapters that you want to look at.
Even better, bring a USB Thumb Drive with you loaded with evaluation photos; many HDTVs now have USB inputs and in many cases the store will allow you to use them. Include both challenging high quality professional photos and also family photos – they are the best absolute reference you have because you know exactly what everyone and everything is supposed to look like.
They're certainly right that most big box stores will hesitate at hooking up a Blu-ray player just for you, but most won't have a problem with you plugging in a USB drive to the display model — if they even notice you doing it.
So what images should you bring? Family photos, as they suggest, are a great idea. I recall one salesman trying to tell me a set was adjusted "just perfect" but the images of my wife I was using as a test image showed her with red hair that would make Jean Grey proud — most definitely not the natural colour. When you use familiar images you'll know right away if the images are significantly off. Some other images you might want to consider loading up on your USB drive would include test patterns (here's a Google Image search for 1920x1080 test patterns) or some photographs of interesting things like animals and insects (check out these previously mentioned National Geographic wallpapers). Avoid just going to your favourite wallpaper site and grabbing the coolest and flashiest wallpapers. Actual television watching has very little in common with the surrealistic CGI eye-candy that makes up most popular wallpaper.
Check out the full article at the link below for lots of great tips or sound off in the comments with your shopping tips or tricks.
[MaximumPC via Geeks Are Sexy]