You ain’t seen nothing yet. Get ready to watch television in a brand new way. This means spectacular picture quality and a tremendous assortment of programming, delivered with vivid color, impeccable detail and spectacular sound. To make the most of the digital era, you should seriously consider a High Definition Television. HDTVs can be a major investment, and we’ve created this shopping guide to help you through it. Welcome to the future. Enjoy the show.
When you're going digital, there are several different options that will all give you decent picture quality. The amount of scanning lines gives an indication of the picture's resolution, so the higher the number of scanning lines, the clearer the picture.
SDTV (standard-definition digital television) is the least expensive digital option. These sets generally measure 32-inches or less diagonally and offer similar picture quality to traditional DVDs (480 scanning lines).
EDTV (enhanced-definition television) offers the same 480 scanning line resolution but delivers it in a progressive display, which makes viewing on a large widescreen clearer.
HDTV (high-definition television) clearly offers the highest picture quality and can fully display all types of high definition content (720 to 1080 lines of resolution). HDTVs are the most expensive, but prices are continuing to drop rapidly.
Mounting a flat panel tv on the wall brings a sleek, modern aesthetic to your room. Before choosing a flat panel, decide between an LCD or plasma model.
LCDs reproduce amazing detail and color, and they can be viewed in brightly lit rooms without a glare. They come in a variety of screen sizes, from small countertop models to sets that measure up to 60 inches diagonally.
Plasma TVs give superb color reproduction and great color contrast. Plus, they provide a wide viewing angle for more flexible placement. Plasmas are available in screen sizes of between 40 and 80 inches and are ideal for larger rooms.
If the installation and cost of a flat panel is not something you want to take on, a variety of other sets offer additional options.
Rear projection sets sit on the floor, but take up less space than similar models of the past, and they're a great value. Rear projections use a variety of technologies, including LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), DLP (Digital Light Processing) and LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) to deliver a "big screen" picture typically 40 to 80 inches diagonally.
If you're looking for a true cinematic experience, front projectors can be mounted on the ceiling to show HD content on a large wall screen. Front projectors usually require professional installation, but they definitely bring the movie theater experience home.
Before you head to the store, measure the viewing distance from your couch to your current TV. Then, when you're at the store, stand the same distance from the screen. You should see a seamless picture, without any visible lines (or pixels) in the image. If you tend to watch TV from wide range - say from the kitchen to the family room - walk to the far sides of the screen to see if you have a good view off-angle.
Ask to see both HD and standard programming, since you'll be watching both formats for a while still. Also consider bringing along a DVD you watch frequently, and compare how different TVs handle programming you're accustomed to seeing.
If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. HDTV's combine high quality, reliable components and circuitry to produce a great HD picture, and the best models can be expensive. Remember, you get what you pay for.
A lot of the new larger screens are too big for current furniture units. If you don't want your options to be determined by your furniture, you may have to look for a cabinet or wall unit that's large enough for your new purchase, and for any components you may want to add down the road.
Adapting existing furniture to an HDTV's wide screen can be tricky. If you want to keep the armoire from your current TV, you may have to downsize the new set to fit into the existing space and then add a shelf above to fill the void.
If width is the issue, a TV with speakers mounted beneath the screen rather than on the sides may be an option. Or, you can buy a set without built in speakers and then connect it to a home theater system. That addresses the challenge and also gives you superior surround sound.
If you go with a flat panel display, you shouldn't simply slide it into an existing shelf system or mount it on a wall with shelves on either side. One of the great benefits of a flat screen is better viewing from all angles, so you want to make sure it's not blocked in any way.
Your HDTV should have enough inputs to handle any additional video sources you're considering. You might not have a digital video recorder today, but maybe you'll want one later. Also, make sure your TV has the right connections to handle the newer entertainment products, like Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD players.
All the cables, components and connectors of today's TV's can mean a lot of tangled wires. One welcome advance, HDMI, lets a single cable replace up to five others - and certainly helps manage the mangled mess.
You should also look for furniture with wire management solutions built in. Holes in the rear accommodate wires and provide ventilation. Making color-coded labels will help you sort out connectors. Even wall mounted TV's come with a lot of wires, so make sure you can snake them behind a wall, and don't forget about the components - they'll need to be stored on a rack, in an adjacent cabinet or in a closet.