The 10 Worst HDTV Scams, Lies and Video Ripoffs

April 28th, 2008 · 61 Comments · Blu-ray Players, LCD Flat Panel, Microdisplay Rear Projection, Plasma

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

Lechner Distance: The Number You Need to Know Before Buying an HDTV

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.


61 Comments so far ↓

  • kasun ga mage


  • S Luke

    I just bougth a new Vizio 42″ LCD 1080p 120hz tv. We had a Samsung 60″ projections tv and the color wheel broke into tiny pieces. The part is only $160 but they want $295 to install it. The Samsung was 4 years old so I decided to buy the new TV. I hate to see the TV sent to a land fill. Is there a technical school or some other organization that wants these old tv’s for teaching or parts? Do you have any other suggestions?

  • sun valley idaho

    sun valley idaho

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  • Larry Lujack

    I got Monster speaker wire and, oh boy, it was the best sound ever. The tones were smoother, the distortion was lower and the mid range was out of this world. As regards durability, I stepped on the cable by accident last week and would you believe it, the sound quality remained intact. Monster cables are worth every penny and they really are an example of, you get what you pay for.

    My friend said I should do a double blind audio comparison test with other cables and I told him that double blind tests are ‘snake oil’ I believe, these tests are only to catch people out.

  • Ray

    I am surprised that HD Antenna’s did not make the list.

  • Josh

    I take issue with statement number 5 on this list, about 1080p TVs under 42″; see my post here:

  • Amit Sharma


    I have been reading about the HDTV and LCD,rather researching on the web for this.
    I am a porspect buyer from India and til recently there were only HD ready TV were available.Full HD just came out. By and Large people here prefer to go for 26″ or 32″ TV.Others are too big to put up in the bedroom.
    Irony is that there is no HD content in India so far and not expected for next 1 year,also Full HD does not come in those small sizes,then why to Buy LCDs?

  • Dan

    I was tired of multiple salespeople contradicting each other so I went to “a one brand only store” and compared. i told the salesman “please hook up those two TV’s on display and feed them both with identical HDMI cables from the Blue Ray player. I tried several blue ray disks with multiple types of viewing at varying distances. i went first thing in the morning and found very helpful salesman who complied. i managed to compare most variations of 120-60 and 720-1080. its tough to trust salespeople because who knows where they got their info. trust your eyes. look for yourself.
    :ramble over: :)

  • Dan

    finally. someone who explains 120Hz. i have been waiting. Its not the broadcast that matters, its the way the TV handles the data.
    if you ever have the opportunity to view multiple TV’s with 120Hz-60Hz-720- and 1080 you will see where the differences come into play. 60-120, watch a hockey game or a HD panning camera shot. you wont ask again. any HD movie with a relatively static seen you will never see a difference.
    good luck shopping.

  • Harvey

    On the 120Hz refresh rate: It’s slightly more complicated but basically a 3:2 pulldown (more accurately 2:3) is the process of converting a 24 fps signals (like film) into the 60 interlaced frames (TV content) needed to display on most TVs which refresh at 60Hz. The process doubles the first frame and triples the second (so of the original 24 fps: A B C D E… equals AA BBB CC DDD EE after 3:2 pulldown). Though, it may be difficult to tell at all times, the 3:2 pulldown process can certainly make slow motion pans look jerky because of the extra frames.

    So we have the 24fps of film and the 60i or 30fps of TV. Obviously it would be best if one could come up with a handy dandy number at which to refresh TVs such that no “funny math” (i.e. 3:2 pulldown) needs to occur. How about, I dunno… 120!

    The 120 Hz is not some gimick to make people think they are getting more frames – it’s so you can multiple 30 by 4 (I suppose called 4:1 pulldown) and 24 by 5 to get the 120 fps signal the 120 Hz TV needs. No pulldowns! Yay 120 Hz.

    FYI, refreshing at either 60Hz or 72Hz like some TVs is another way to defeat the need for pulldowns.

  • peter

    hi, i bought a panasonic 26″ Tv model 26LX70…is this a good LCD TV even at 26″? thanks from peter

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