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A Simplified Explanation as to How TV Works

[ 2 ] Posted by on February 1, 2013

Samsung Curved OLED TV

Everybody loves a little bit of television now and again, and as the single most successful piece of consumer electronics since the history of time, we often take for granted our TV sets and the technological advances that have been made over the past 20 years. In 2010, it was reported by the Telegraph that one in six UK families had 5 televisions per household, with two thirds of British households having three TV’s. Three years on, and the introduction of Smart TV’s as well as a wealth of other rather exciting features make one of our most beloved past times greater than ever.

A short while ago, we wrote up a constantly updated TV terminology guide, listing everything you need to know about all of the very latest features hitting TV’s right now and in the future.

If you have been wondering how television works, then, it’s like this: your TV generates numerous small dots on the screen which to you appears as a whole image. Old TVs used cathode-ray tubes to create these images and they relied on an analog signal. But technology has improved and TVs now use LCD (liquid crystal display), plasma and signals. Unlike cathode-ray tubes, LCD’s and plasma rely on pixels than a vacuum tube, with vastly superior results.

Your Brain, Eyes and the TV

The majority of TVs work the same way. Pixels, small dotted lights, keep flashing based on a particular pattern as determined by the video signal. Your eyes will receive this pattern and transmit it to your brain which then recognizes the image. The patterns on a TV are refreshed hundreds if not thousands of times every second, which creates the illusion that the images you see are moving.

Plasma TVs

Plasma TV screens are composed of small cells filled with xenon and neon gases. Every cell is joined to an electrode that stimulates the gases in the cell when fired. These gases shoot charged particles which interact with phosphors used to coat the glass within every cell. These phosphors will be lit and create the image you see on the TV screen, and that is how television works with a plasma screen.

The more cells there are on the screen, the more pixels will appear and the clearer the image will be. Because of the way it is designed, plasma TVs are able to render deep blacks very effectively. Refresh rates are very high as is the contrast. You also won’t see any of the blurring that comes with some other TVs. Plasma TVs are available in a number of sizes, including 55 inches and over.

LCD Screens

LCD based TVs also use cells to produce the images but instead of stimulating gases like plasma, LCD cells have green, red and blue filters. These filters come with a layer of liquid crystals which in turn is placed between two glass components. The cells will be linked to a thin film transistors (TFT) or electrodes. Whatever the case, the cells will be triggered to produce the image.

These screens have a backlight so the image you see is bright. LCD TVs are characterized by their thinness and lightness. The majority have light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of cold-cathode fluorescent lamp for the lighting. Some people prefer plasma over LCD, while others like LCD better. The choice is really up you, so you need to research the product first, because the features will vary depending on the manufacturer.


3D TV is an emerging technology that allows you to experience three-dimensional video games, movies and TV programs. While it does hold a lot of promise, the concept has not yet really taken off for many reasons. One of them is that many consumers find the price too high, and there is still little content available. You also need to wear 3D glasses, which some people find uncomfortable. So far, 3D movies have been making better inroads than 3D TV, although that can change in the future.

Knowing how television works will help you better appreciate their features. Today’s sets still rely on the same principles, but the images they produce are far crisper and more compact, which is why you see fuller, more vivid images.

This article was originally contributed to us by, a great website for asking questions online.

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About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is the founder of Technology Blogged. 25, with a love for good writing, you'll find Jakk playing 'Drag Racing' on his Nexus 5 and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to his feed for unique editorials. View author profile.

Comments (2)

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  1. Shascha says:

    How is this simplified???

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