Unless you're a bit of a tech enthusiast, it can be rather difficult to work out what all those boring technical words mean. Here's a quick run-down of all the main types of TV, and how they differ from one another...
LCD TV: CCFL
Until recently, all LCD TVs were backlit by always-on, CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps. This ageing technology has been superseded by the superior LED method on more expensive sets, but is still standard on cheaper models.
LED TV: Direct LED
These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This enables localised dimming – meaning immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively – and greatly improves contrast. LED TVs are also more power efficient and capable of a wider colour gamut than CCFL sets.
LED TV: Edge LED (LCD)
The LEDs of the backlight are mounted along the edges of the panel. This arrangement enables radically slender displays and offers superior contrast levels to CCFL, but can't achieve the same picture quality as directly lit LED sets.
The backlighting on OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets is achieved by passing an electric current through an emissive, electroluminescent film. This technique is thought to produce better colours and higher contrast and also enables screens to be extremely thin and flexible. As yet, though, the only commercially available OLED TVs are small and very expensive.
PDP (plasma display panel) TVs use glass panels containing millions of tiny cells filled with a mixture of inert gases. Electricity excites the gases, causing them to illuminate the pixels across the screen. Plasma, while arguably superior to LCD in terms of contrast and colour accuracy, is only viable on large (42in+) screens and has been dropped by all but a handful of manufacturers.
These are modern LCD (LED) or plasma screens with electronics able to display 3D pictures. There are two types of 3D technology: passive and active.
Passive 3D utilises screens with a polarised filter, combined with lightweight, cheap plastic glasses, much like those used at the cinema. The disadvantage of this is that because both pictures are displayed on the screen at the same time, the resultant image is not full HD.
Active 3D, meanwhile, creates a 3D effect by synchronising fast-shuttering glasses with the screen using IR (infrared) transmitters. Sources of 3D currently include 3D Blu-ray players and Sky's 3D TV channel.