What's More Important?

Video is usually considered the most important choice when shopping for electronics, and for good reason. Home entertainment is cited as the third most time-consuming activity in the average home, following sleep and work!

Understanding Your Television

Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of each. LCD is the most popular and is available in two variations. The first variation is fluorescent (CCFL) and the second is LED (light emitting diode). Both of these technologies refer to the way the display is lit up from behind or "backlit." Fluorescent backlighting uses a fluorescent light on the back of the panel and is energy efficient and low-cost. LED utilizes solid state LED bulbs on the back of the display panel and is more energy efficient, as well as more durable (20,000 hour longer life-spans = approx. 10 years)! Be careful to avoid edge-lit LED panels, as they tend to exhibit hot spots in the picture and are usually lower performers. A plasma display utilizes a chemical reaction that excites a phosphor or pixel element. Plasma is generally considered to be better for black level, smooth motion and three-dimensionality. The primary reason for this is that these types of television have the ability to turn each pixel element on and off. The backlight in an LCD television must remain on all the time.

A rear-projection display is a projection TV housed in a cabinet. There are many types of backlight technology incorporated into these televisions, but the most common are LED (light-emitting diode), LCD (liquid crystal display), DLP (digital light processing) and CRT (cathode ray tube). CRT is the oldest of these technologies and LED is most recent. The benefit to this type of display technology is that by keeping external light from affecting the projector, we can get a very bright image on a very large screen.

The 4th display type is front projection TV. These are the closest to theater-style imaging and the primary benefit is that they can be custom sized as large as you want. These screens can be sized beginning at around 80 inches and go to sizes of 200 inches or more. You can't do that with any of the other types mentioned previously. Front-projection utilizes any of the aforementioned backlight technologies (LED, LCD, DLP, CRT, etc.) projected onto various types of screen materials. The disadvantage to a front-projection system is that you should have complete control of any natural light entering the room, otherwise your picture will begin to wash out and lose brightness.

Consider the activities, the room and the lighting conditions before deciding what particular TV display technology you will put in each location. Once you have chosen the TVs, now you have to get a picture to each of them. Distributed video is a system where all kinds of video (and audio) signals from A/V source components (i.e., Blu-Ray players, DVD players, DVRs, etc.) are sent to multiple TV locations around the home. Video distribution is all about getting a strong, clear signal to all of your TVs. This involves three general functions:

  • Gathering the signals.
  • Combining, conditioning and amplifying the signals.
  • Distributing the signals to their destinations.


There are three variations of video distribution common to most installations:

  • Analog RF (Radio Frequency) distribution refers to sending signals including satellite, cable, DVD,DVR, Blu-Ray and other available sources to various rooms and areas throughout the house on a standard coaxial cable. The cable most recommended for this type of distribution is a good quality, quad-shielded RG-6u wire.
  • There are two parts to maintaining the integrity of RF signals; the first part is keeping your signals from leaking out of the cable. The second part is keeping outside signals from leaking into the cable.
  • Analog Component utilizes three separate video connections to pass luminance (black and white picture components) and color information on separate wires. This type of distribution is still analog, but can carry full high-definition resolution and is much better than RF.
  • The third variation is digital and is most often sent on HDMI cables. HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface and is capable of carrying all audio and video signals on the same wire. There are two primary issues regarding signal distribution with HDMI. The first is that HDMI components must handshake (recognize each other) for the signal to pass. The second is that wire runs of over 75 feet usually degrade picture performance.

The job of your systems integrator is to get the picture you want to see, on the right size screen, distributed in the best way possible.