Associated Press
5 Blu-ray, 3-D TV
Associated Press

Blu-ray is the recent victor of the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD format war. That format war was very similar to the VHS vs. Betamax format war of the 1980s.

Both formats wanted to replace the DVD in the same way DVD replaced VHS, and both were offering pretty much the same thing DVD did back in the day with more space for content and better picture and sound quality.

Blu-ray has absolutely delivered on its promises with a beautiful picture and over six times the storage capacity of regular DVD. However, it landed at a really interesting time. More and more people are wanting movies delivered digitally just like their music. Also, old Blu-ray players do not work with the latest 3-D formats with the exception of the PS3.

Now consumers have to consider whether or not Blu-ray will even be around for any length of time, and if it is, should they invest in the more expensive 3-D technology?

Consumers are now left with a tough decision this season, but then again, that's the nature of technology.

"Stick with what you need, not just want," Siegler said. "Tech updates so quickly that in a few months you may find yourself filled with regret about a purchase unless you really needed it."

4 3G, 4G
Keith Johnson, Deseret News

The "G" in 3G and 4G simply means generation.

Most cell phone carriers use a 3G or 4G network to provide Internet access to their on-the-go customers. The higher the number in front of "G," the more up-to-date and potentially faster the network is.

Why would you need a 3G or 4G network as opposed to the many Wi-Fi hot spots around town? Convenience.

While holiday shopping to find the perfect gift for little Johnny, a consumer with a 3G- or 4G-ready device can check the Internet to see if another local store has that item at a better price. If another store has it cheaper, having on-the-go Internet access allows the buyer to get turn-by-turn instructions from where they are to where they need to go.

3 Wi-Fi
Michael Brandy, Deseret News

When most people use the term Wi-Fi, they are really saying WLAN — a wireless local area network. Wi-Fi is the Internet connection at your home or office. It's also the connection people use when they're on their laptops at Starbucks or the public library. Wi-Fi allows the user to get onto the Internet at a specific location, but the connection can't go with you.

2 Plasma

The plasma screen is a little more complicated.

"Ultraviolet photons interact with phosphor material coated on the inside wall of the cell," said Tom Harris of How Stuff Works.

There are millions of cells trapped between two plates of glass, and each contains a red, blue or green appearance that illuminates when a charge is sent through the cell.

If you're not following, that's OK. This is what the technology means to consumers.

"Plasmas still offer the best value in the 50+ sizes and the best contrast and color reproduction, which any videophile will tell you is way more important than brightness, which seems to be sole reason why the masses prefer LCD," said Ben Drawbaugh of Engadget.

In short, a plasma TV is a cheaper option with beautiful color and contrast, but not as bright or stylish as the LED. The LED enjoys a beautiful design and a brighter screen, but struggles with darker colors. Also, it will hit the wallet harder than the plasma TVs will.


Imagine there is a micro-version of Lite-Brite behind the TV screen, that's one way to explain LED.

"(An LED) is an LCD flat-panel television whose picture screen is illuminated by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs," said Brian Colley at CNET TV.

Because of the size of the lights and the area it covers, LEDs are often very thin and very bright. They are more expensive and more stylish, but they have struggled to reach the absolute black color that plasma TVs are able to achieve.