Learn to Test HDTVs Like the Pros

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced last week that it will be offering a “short course” on how to measure flat panel displays. The courses are three-days long, and will be held in Boulder, Colorado. The fee is $2,000.

Why do I mention this? The first point is that it is difficult to do detailed, reliable, and meaningful testing of displays. You need a lot of knowledge and equipment and skill, and experience is also helpful. Three days of technical training is a good place to start to gain the knowledge and experience.

I suspect that you won’t find many places on the Web that provide reviews of HDTVs based on thorough testing. (On the Displays Resources page, you’ll find a link to Peter Putman’s Web site which is one of the exceptions.) Even some of the “big name” publications have reviews written by people who do not understand the technology, and/or do not have the equipment to make reliable measurements. And then there are the “be the first to review this HDTV” sites that are filled with content that is not always helpful.

The second reason that I mention this is that you really don’t need three days of expensive training to understand the basic differences between displays, and to make objective observations comparing HDTVs for yourself. Just a small handful of factors make a noticeable difference when you set up the display in your home, and knowing what to look for — even without taking measurements — will help you make a better choice when deciding what to buy.