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Do I have to worry about viewing angles when buying a HDTV?

Dhiren11 is considering buying a 3D HDTV, and asked the HDTV & Home Theater if a family of six can sit around it and all have a good view.

Dhiren11 is considering buying a 3D HDTV, and asked the HDTV & Home Theater if a family of six can sit around it and all have a good view.

Whether or not extreme viewing angles affect your television enjoyment depends on a lot of things, including the TV's basic technology, the quality of your specific model, and how extreme of an viewing angle you're talking about.

LCD televisions have a viewing angle problem. So do LED TVs, which are really LCDs with LED backlighting. As you move farther to the side and away from the central sweet spot, the picture gets darker and the color duller.

However, there have been huge advances in this technology over the years, and viewing angle is no longer the big problem it once was. In most sets, you have to get to a very extreme angle, so that you're almost looking at the side of the TV, to notice a real problem. When you come right down to it, looking at the TV from that angle isn't optimal anyway; any picture will look better when viewed from close to head on.

If you're really worried about viewing angles, buy a plasma set, where there are no viewing angle issues. (Of course, the distortion caused by the angle itself will still be there.) Plasma sets have their own issues--burn-in and heavy power consumption--but these too have been reduced in recent years by improved technology.

These issues are the same with 2D and 3D. However, if you're sitting at a really extreme angle, a 3D image may look more distorted than a 2D one--even on a plasma set.

Fortunately, viewing angle is just about the only television image-quality issue you can judge in a store.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at [email protected], or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.

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