By Charlie French
Either you recently graduated from school or you finally got a job with a big enough salary to upgrade your TV-watching experience. In any case, let me be the first to say congratulations, and welcome to the world of high-definition. Unless for some unknown reason you rocked a large flat panel HDTV in college, this will be your first opportunity to really get down and dirty with a home entertainment system in your own place.
A quick note: If you are planning on purchasing an old-fashioned TV that takes up a quarter of your living room, you can stop reading now. Nothing against these sets if you are on a super tight budget and just want to watch Days of Our Lives while you’re unemployed, but at this point they are dinosaurs that, in spite of some differences, all fall into the general category of “not very good.” Just grab a few hundred dollars, hit the electronics store or flea market, and make sure it’s got a built-in VCR—if you’re gonna take it old-school, take it all the way old-school, player.
What Size TV Should I Get?
Ok, now we’ve separated the mice from the human men and women, let’s get down to business. In deciding what television is right for you, you must first ask yourself what size screen your room can legitimately accommodate. Don't know? No worries, it’s pretty simple: Measure the distance (in inches) from the proposed position of the flatty to your “seated eyeballs.” (“Flatty” is maven-speak for flat-screen TV—work it around a few times before hitting up the store.) Now, take that number and divide it by 2.5. So, if you are going to site 90" from your TV, the estimated TV size is 36”. With a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of a widescreen, you could manage something slightly larger.
OK, Now What Are My Options?
Now that you have an idea of how big your TV can be (you can always go smaller if you want), it’s easier to decide what model is right for you. If your estimated television sizing is less than 42" then your only option is to get an LCD . For LCDs under 42”, you can pay anywhere between $600 for a 32” Westinghouse to $1600 for a 40” Samsung . If your estimated sizing is more than 42", you have the choice between an LCD and a plasma (more about these two in a moment). And lastly, if you can go over 50", you can choose between plasma and rear projection sets ( LCoS and DLP ).
Let's venture a guess and say you're in the 42"-50" range. Congratulations, you hit the money zone! Here you will find the best TVs at the best prices. You can find high-quality 42” Panasonic plasma for less than $1,000 or a 46” Samsung 1080p LCD HDTV for less than $1,800.
LCD vs. Plasma: The Great Debate
Let me highlight a few of the major differences between plasmas and LCDs. Unless you go with a top of the line LCD, you will notice some “ghosting” effects (also known as image lag ), which is when fast-moving objects leave a faint trail behind them. For plasmas, which have near instantaneous r...