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FAQ - If Only I'd Have Known - What Features to Look for in TVs and AVRs

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Updated Late 2017. 10,834 Previous views.

Here's a list of the typical regrets that some people have after purchasing a TV or receiver:

There is no "perfect" TV or receiver, but you may wish to consider some of the following features when shopping..

If I knew then, what I know now, I'd have bought:

A larger TV.

A smaller TV (boy it didn't look that big in the store - I couldn't even get it in the house).

An HDTV that has a direct access button for each input, or easy access to each input. An HDTV that allows skipping of unused inputs or labelling of these inputs. (Many don't)

An HDTV that has each input remember the "aspect/stretch mode" or other settings so that it can be tailored to your viewing of different devices.

A backlit remote control.

A more reliable brand.

A different type of TV (Plasma, Front Projector, LCD (LED, LED local dimming, IPS panel, etc)).

A particular type of PoP functionality (Usually not much use in the digital STB world).

An HDTV that allows 720P input signals or 480i input signals via HDMI. (not all TVs allow all input signals).

An HDTV that allows you to stretch High Def images (Some STBs perform this function, so not much value any more) Check the various stretch modes you may be interested in. Typically not necessary for TVs that don't have burn in issues.

An HDTV with a larger vertical or horizontal viewing angle. (certain TVs like LCD/LEDs can be somewhat limiting in this regard).

An HDTV that has a "non-glare" screen - can be important for daytime viewing. Manufacturers sometimes have various models for different needs.

I'd have questioned the salesperson or CSR more. Many simply don't know much about HDTV and they'll make stuff up or guess, rather than provide an accurate response.

More Inputs, Outputs, or other options you require.

A 1080P instead of 768P HDTV

A TV that has a specific input for PCs, also check to ensure this input can accept certain resolutions, some 1080P TVs only accept 768P via the PC input. Most newer PCs have HDMI outs.

A headphone jack.

A better set of speakers if you don't have an AVR.

3D Capability?

Netflix, YouTube and similar web (smart) capability (although this functionality may be built into other equipment you have like BD player or Apple TV, etc).

ARC (Audio Return Channel) required on TV and AVR.

4K (note that 4K has several new specs currently and anticipated for the near future - HDR, etc.)


- Some HDTVs don't do Closed Captioning of SD input signals via the component/HDMI inputs. If CC is important to you, make sure the TV can do what you want. For HD inputs, the sending device (STB) usually does the CC.

Note that "LED TVs" are simply LCD TVs with LED backlighting. This can make them brighter, slimmer and more energy efficient. "Full Array Local dimming" LEDs (a step up from regular LEDs) typically cost a lot more than regular LCDs, which use CCFLs for backlighting (or edge-lit LED).

LCDs (LEDs) can have limited viewing angles. If you view them from more than about 15 degrees off center, you will notice colour fade and a loss of blacks on the less expensive panels. An IPS panel will be better, but also significantly more expensive.

A/V Receiver:

A receiver that "auto-senses and switches" digital and analogue audio signals.

A receiver that "auto-senses" and has "auto-priority" for video and audio signals (automatically picks the "best" signal source and audio decoding) (would pick component video over S-Video if both signals are present)(would pick DD5.1 over analogue stereo, etc) Can be overridden.

A receiver with "on-screen" display. (typically only on composite or s-video, mostly used for setup) Some AVRs allow output of the OSD via component video or HDMI.

A receiver that has "B" speaker outlets for use elsewhere in the home, or a different zone, or 7.1 or 9.1 or 9.2 speakers? Note that if you want the B speakers to work at the same time as "A", some receivers do not allow that, only one or the other.... Note also that most AVRs with second zones require you to sacrifice DD7.1, leaving DD5.1 at the AVR since there are only so many amp sections. Note too, that many AVRs with 2 additional zones require a separate amplifier for the 3rd zone.

A receiver that "transcodes (sometimes called upconverts)" the incoming (analogue) video signal so that composite, S-video. component video are converted to HDMI, so that only the one connection is required from the receiver to the TV. (This can be problematical if the devices connected require a different setup of the TV - direct input to the TV may be preferable rather than going "through" the AVR - most new (HDMI) equipment works just fine through the AVR though...)

A receiver that allows for video calibration on each input (available on some expensive AVRs)

A receiver that displays the incoming signal (DD2.0, analogue, DD3/2/1, PCM, Etc) and/or displays the "output" (DPL, DPLII, DD5.1, DD6.1 Matrix, DTS, etc) Some receivers only have a single light and that isn't nearly as helpful.

More inputs and outputs on my receiver, such as digital audio, 6-8 multichannel analogue inputs for DVD-A, HD-Audio, etc. More component video or HDMI...

A receiver with a learning remote, a backlit remote (a learning remote for the AVR is typically not much use with other equipment - people usually prefer a Harmony or similar programmable remote for all their equipment).

A receiver with "auto-setup" of the speakers (to appropriately set the volume and distances for the speakers).

A receiver that goes beyond "auto-setup" of the speakers and has equalization, dynamic volume, or other features, often included with AVRs that have "Audyssey". Some AVRs may not be able to "Audyssey" certain input signals...beware.

iPod interface, Satellite Receiver/interface.

Upconversion of signals to 720P, 1080i or 1080P via a good processor (the processor must be better than the one in the TV to make a difference) Be aware that many AVRs place limits on the incoming signals that can be upconverted.

FAQ - On Upconversion - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums On Upconversion

A receiver that has a volume setting for each input, to eliminate the difference that can often be heard between various components - especially useful when switching from a quiet component to a loud one. ;)

A set of pre-outs to connect a separate amplifier.

A set of multi-channel analogue inputs for uncompressed audio from certain devices.

Networking capability and compatibility with various portable devices if desired - iDevices, Android, etc.

3D capability (HDMI 1.4)

4K capability (note that 4K has several new specs currently and anticipated for the near future - HDR, etc)

Phono input - these are typically only available on more expensive AVRs. If you have a turntable, you can purchase a phono preamp if you wish an inexpensive AVR.

HDMI & HD Audio - A summary:

For HDMI the AVR can:

1. Have no HDMI inputs, therefore the discussion is moot (as far as HDMI audio is concerned, but see item 5 below).
2. Simply switch the audio and video - passing the signals to the TV.
3. Handle HDMI audio, but not be able to decode the HD audio in BDs for example.
4. Handle HDMI audio and be able to decode the HD audio (like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-MA).

If you have an AVR as mentioned in 3, then the BD player can usually decode the HD audio and pass uncompressed PCM to the AVR via the HDMI connection. The settings in the BD player need to be set correctly. Uncompressed PCM cannot be sent via optical or coaxial, however, it can be sent via the multichannel outputs of the BD player (if it has them - these players usually cost about $100 more), and some higher priced AVRs have one set of multi-channel analogue audio inputs to receive these uncompressed signals.

5. Use the multichannel inputs of an AVR for uncompressed audio (be it decoded Dolby TrueHD, DTS-MA, DVD-A, SACD), provided the player decodes these.

The decoding of HD-audio can take place in the player or in the AVR, but most people believe that doing so in the AVR is a "better" option if you're starting with a clean slate. The reason this is not always straight forward is that some BD players, like the (fat) PS3 (and some very early BD players), do not allow bitstreaming of the original signal to the AVR for decoding. (New PS3 slim does allow bitstreaming) Of course, proper setup of the user settings in the BD player and in the AVR are essential and you cannot go "through" a TV, the connection must be direct from the BD player to the AVR.

(HDMI audio processing summary - none, some, HD audio) See the following link for more information on HD audio from HD DVDs... BD Player and audio output. - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

Note that most BD players come with a default setting that precludes HD audio and therefore the user settings must be changed appropriately.

An "HDMI Through" option, which allows the audio and video to pass to the TV when the AVR is in standby. This may use (slightly) more electricity in standby.

ARC (Audio Return Channel) on HDMI to send audio signals "both ways" between say an AVR and TV. Both the TV and AVR must have ARC, setup can be tricky and AVR may utilize more electricity.

Home Theatre

I'd have planned a little better for the following:

- a programmable remote like a Harmony to handle all the switching, etc with one button press.
- additional/pre-wiring (surrounds, sub, etc)
- cable management (how, where to put them all, label speaker wires)
- leave lots of space behind equipment for wiring to bend - sometimes 6" can be required for the bend radius of HDMI cables, etc.
- if you run conduit, think about future wiring that you may want there - say HDMI if you're currently using component video.
- Add several strong strings through conduit to be used to pull any future cables. Make the conduit large enough and use smooth electrical conduit with large 90 degree bends rather than plumbing plastic that has obstructions at the corners and tight bends.
- layout
- access to components/component cupboard
- IR repeater or similar for hidden components
- hidden items (like a subwoofer perhaps)
- seating
- lighting/controls
- bias lighting (behind TV)
- acoustic treatments
- hush box around front projector
- flat panel TV in addition to front projector (hides behind screen?)
- electrical circuits (dedicated isolated outlets)
- UPS - especially for PVRs, FPs.
- Do not pay premium prices for "luxury" cables.
- Adequate ventillation
- etc.

Many people regret not having consulted more before purchasing or building...

And lastly, as always, I wish I had more money to buy what I really wanted. :lol:

If you have any comments or suggestions for this post, please PM 57.
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