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Issue #035 - What's new
29th June 2008

The Practical HT Guide Update  brings you the latest additions in a series of informative home theater design articles, unbiased system reviews, practical guidelines and free advice. If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a BIG favor and "pay it forward."

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June 2008: Welcome to Issue 35 of the Practical HT Guide Update

In this issue:

Blue bullet

Digital Satellite or Cable Television - Which is better?

Blue bullet

Home Theater Speaker Placement

Blue bullet

Image Retention in LCD TVs

Blue bullet

Buying Refurbished Electronics - Is it worth the risk?

Digital Satellite or Cable Television: Which one is right for you? Who can deliver more HD programming?

Digital Cable and Digital Satellite Television are the two biggest competitors in the field of TV entertainment in the US.

Cable companies such as Time Warner, AT&T Comcast, and Cox Communications, are offering a number of television programming packages over their cable infrastructure that lacks nothing in comparison to those available from satellite television service providers.

What is interesting here is that up to a few years ago, Cable TV was not really much of a treat to Digital Satellite television in the home theater arena. Old fashioned analog cable systems did not support as many channels - in particular movie channels - as satellite, nor was the image quality of analog channels up to that supported by digital TV systems.

The advent of 'digital' cable did change the whole situation. These systems use MPEG-2 compression and are in the process of moving to MPEG-4 AVC to be able to deliver even more high definition content.

The unfortunate thing is that there is a lot of misinformation around as a result of the harsh competition between these two television services. Even more so is the misleading information appearing on some of these service providers affiliate sites in an attempt to promote one service over another.

To help you in the process, we have prepared an article that brings out the most relevant differences between the major TV entertainment services in the US - Digital Satellite vs. Cable TV. It would still require some research of your own since most of the decision will depend on your viewing habits, but it is hoped that our article will make your task easier!

We are interested in you opinion. Should you desire, you may also join in our Satellite vs. Cable TV discussion. Share your experience; express your views on picture quality, customer service, service downtime, perceived value, etc.  

Your first-hand experience will surely be of value to millions of others.

Click here for details.

Please note that this article forms part of a series of guides appearing under the Satellite TV section of the site. Other articles appearing under this same section include:

Introduction to Digital Satellite Television

Digital Satellite HDTV (1): What is Satellite HDTV?

Digital Satellite HDTV (2): Satellite HDTV Programming

Satellite Dish Installation Guide

Choosing Your Satellite Decoder

Glossary of Satellite Television Terms and Definitions

'FREE' Satellite Television Offers: Where is the Catch?


Home Theater Speaker Placement: Optimum placement for an immersive experience.

Home theater is not just watching movies - it is the experience of being immersed into the movie action itself. This would not be possible without the enveloping atmosphere created by surround sound.

Home theater sound systems require at least five main speakers and a sub woofer, hence the reference to a 5.1 speaker playback setup. More advanced audio playback systems may feature six (6.1 setup) or seven (7.1 setup) full-range audio channels for greater realism.

speaker placementSurround sound requires that the various sounds produced by the different speakers originate from specific positions within your home theater room. Knowing these requirements will help re-create the sound producers intended it to be.

Further more, very few are aware of the fact that there are distinct differences in speaker placement requirements between multi-channel music listening and watching movies.

More on correct speaker placement can be found in our Home Theater Speaker Placement article at our site. This article takes a detailed look at the role of the individual speakers in a surround sound setup. This should lead to a better understanding of the different speaker placement requirements in multi-channel audio. We also explain the different speaker placement requirements between home theater sound and multi-channel music. More info here.


This discussion appears under the home theater sound section of the site. Topics discussed include a detailed explanation of the differences between the different Dolby and DTS surround sound formats, high definition audio formats and playback requirements, differences between DVD-A and SACD, THX home cinema, and delay settings in surround sound systems. The following links will take you straight to the respective articles:

Dolby Sound Formats

DTS Surround Sound formats

Dolby vs. DTS - Which is better?

High Definition Audio for Music Listening

THX Home Cinema - An Overview

Time Delay Settings in Surround Systems


Image Retention in LCD TVs: Isn't it just an issue with Plasma TVs?

Image retention in LCD TVs - more commonly referred to as 'image sticking' is surely one of the least known phenomena associated with the use of TFT LCD panels. Yet, despite what many may believe, image retention or ghosting is not just an issue with plasma televisions.  



The KDL-46XBR4 46" Sony LCD TV

What is Image Sticking?

Many are aware that if you leave a static image for a prolonged period on a plasma TV, you may risk phosphor burn-in. The result is that once you remove the static image, you would still be able to see a faint outline, or ghosting of the original image, even when you change the picture content.

LCD TVs do not suffer from burn-in, yet as surprising as it may seem, they still suffer from image retention when a static or semi-static image is left displayed on the screen for too long.

The intensity of image retention depends on various factors, not just the duration the static image remains displayed on the screen. Issues such as image makeup, working temperature, and the LCD panel brand itself, should also be factored in.

Image retention in LCD panels is often referred in the LCD industry as 'image sticking'. As with burn-in, image sticking is a phenomenon where a faint outline of a previously displayed fixed or semi-fixed image remains visible on the screen even when the image is changed.

It should be remarked that though burn-in in plasma televisions and image sticking in LCD display panels both result in image retention or ghosting on the display panel, yet burn-in and image sticking are two different phenomena.

To learn more on image sticking in LCDs, to what extent it is reversible, and what can you do to avoid it, read the full article appearing under the LCD TV Section of the site: Image Sticking in LCD TVs

Is it worth buying a Refurbished LCD TV Set?

A most common question that often finds itself through the site feedback form, is whether it is worth the risk of buying a refurbished LCD TV set, or in that case, any refurbished electronics.

It is true that LCD TVs are among the most expensive TV display per unit screen size even though the latest prices covering the 37-inch to the 46-inch screen segment are more in line with those of their plasma counterpart.

At the same time, one cannot ignore the fact that refurbished items often sell at deep discounts. Checking the prices at Second Act, US top online retailer specializing in name brand factory refurbished products, show that a refurbished LCD TV set may easily sell at anything from 50% to 80% off the retail price.

Hence, it is only logical to consider refurbs if what you are after is a cheap LCD TV.


  • Are there any risks when buying refurbished electronics?

  • How can you transform these risks into a smart buy?

From the queries we receive, it is obvious that there are many misconceptions surrounding this subject. In particular, many confuse the term 'refurbished electronics' with 'reconditioned'. In the electronics world, these are two distinct designations.

So what exactly classifies as 'refurbished' when it comes to electronic products?

For an answer to all these questions, check our article: A Guide to Buying Refurbished Electronics.

Take care and stay tuned! 



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