"I can see clearly now..."
There is good news to report, as long as you don’t have stock in “Best Buy” or “Circuit City.” There continues to be a price war in the digital TV market. Many of the big retailers will report soft quarterly profits because they have deeply discounted the new sets. It’s bad for them, but good for you.
There are several types of new “flat screens” from which to choose. Liquid Plasma, Liquid Crystal and DLP are all types of “flat screens” now on the market. All can provide excellent pictures. I do not recommend any of the older style rear projection models. These are usually the least expensive. They are very large, since the projection system is housed in the box about the width of a refrigerator. Of all your options, this type of display will provide the least satisfactory picture.
Shop with your eyes. While numbers and specifications may look great on paper, what the picture looks like to you is more important. While 720 lines of resolution is not as good as a 1080 line display, if the screen measures only 27” it might look fine and be much less expensive.
Bigger is not always better. While the neighbors might go wild over that new 65” behemoth in your living room, your enjoyment of the programs might well be enhanced with a smaller screen. As discussed above, a TV picture, standard or high definition, is made up of discrete pixels. On the small screen they are closer together and thus will look sharper. If you have a large family or media room, go with the big set. If it is for a smaller living room, den or bedroom, think smaller.
Ask to see a demonstration of programming you watch. If you watch NASCAR, ask to see that programming. The same holds true for movies or concerts. Many stores will have all the sets displaying some high energy fast paced video with the subwoofer rattling your teeth. It is all part of the sales ambiance. Take the time to watch what you normally watch and then make your decision.
In the store make sure you watch a set connected to the source of your programming. If you are a cable subscriber ask to see cable programming. If you view off the air or via satellite, ask to see that programming.
Look at the remote. If you are a “techie,” the more buttons the better. If you are not, make sure that you will be able to easily navigate the options. This is especially important if the set will be used by someone not accustomed or comfortable with new technology.
Forget the extra warranty. If it is going to fail it will do so early in its life, well within the standard manufacturer’s coverage.
One last tip, don’t let the salesperson intimidate you. If you read the above information and the material on http://www.cetconnect.org/digital/guide2.asp ,you most likely already know more than he or she does.