This is the HD Guru’s 2008 list of ripoffs a prospective buyer needs to be aware of before choosing an HDTV. In a few days I will add another post that will provide more detailed explanations of every point listed.

10-Dynamic Contrast Ratio Measurement Specification

The recent arrival of 2008 HDTV models, has ushered in the era of “dynamic contrast ratio” boasting up to “one million to one” (1,000,000:1). The reality? Not only is the dynamic contrast ratio number meaningless, it reminds me of something Dr. Evil of Austin Powers fame would be promoting. Disregard it when comparing HDTVs.

9-Fake HD Cable and Satellite Channels

A number of HD channels provide fake HD image for much of the day. Instead of gorgeous widescreen true high definition programming these channels put out standard definition fare that is upconverted and stretched to fill the screen. The result? Images appear soft and distorted. These fake HD channels include: History Channel HD, TNT HD, USA HD, A&E HD and Lifetime HD. Consider this before choosing a HD program provider and their HD package.

8- Line Conditioners

They claim they make the HDTV image sharper and provide better color. Horse Hockey! Put the $200-$1500+ instead into a bigger, better model HDTV or a Blu-ray player.

For significantly less money than a line conditioner, buy a surge suppressor or surge protector with uninterrupted power supply to protect your HDTV against voltage surges.

7-Deep Color

This feature should be named Deep Baloney. Digital displays (LCD, Plasma or DLP) will only display the amount of color depth (number of shades) a given HDTV is capable of displaying. With no Deep Color source available today, it’s another worthless product feature.

6-x.v. Color

The promise, more colors on the screen then ever before possible. The reality? The only displays that can take full advantage of the wider color gamut x.v.Color promises are Laser TV and they wouldn’t be available for months. In addition, the only sources today that can provide an x. v. color signal are a handful of HD Camcorders. Bottom line, until Laser TVs and xv Color HD discs appear (no one can say if these discs will ever be available), it is a pretty worthless feature.

5-1080p HDTVs below 42″ (diagonal)

Most buyers don’t realize how close you must be to a 1080p set to notice the full benefit over a 720p display. The average viewing distance in America is 9 ft. To see all the detail in a 32″ 1080p set you have to sit 4 feet 2 inches from the display (or closer). For more info and a chart go to

4-Flat LCD HDTVs 26″ and Smaller

With the price of LCD flat panels continuing to drop, the image quality of LCD HDTVs in the 26” or below size has actually diminished! A number also have non-standard aspect ratios (1.6:1 instead of 1.78:1 aka 16×9) that will cut off part of an HD image!

3-Off Brand Model HDTVs

Buying no name brands will save you money, but they may be nearly as expensive to repair as to replace after the factory warranty expires. In fact, some models have no post warranty service or parts available. For more information go to

2-120Hz HDMI Cables

Super priced HDMI cables that cost over 100 times more than ones you can buy from ($1.98) are claimed to handle “faster speed” signals to meet the requirements of 120 Hz signals, and therefore are present and “future” ready.

The rip-off? There are no 120 Hz signals today or planned in the future. All 120 Hz HDTVs today or tomorrow accept signals at a rate no higher than 1080p/60 Hz.

The worst connector design since S-Video and the most unreliable interface ever foisted on the buying public. Don’t be surprised if your HDMI hookups do not provide any image on your HDTV. You should always pretest HDMI connections before installing your sources and/or new HDTV.

Copyright ©2008 Gary Merson/HD Guru. All rights reserved. The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.