What You Should Know Before You Buy Your New HDTV

Our previous article covered some general information about HDTV's. Now that you've decided to buy one, this article will hopefully help you make your selection. Before you actually walk into the store, there are a few things you should make a decision about. Number one consideration probably should be: "How much money can I spend?" Decide how much you want to spend first. You should find HDTV's in your price range in each of the basic HDTV categories: direct-view CRT, flat-panel LCD, flat-panel plasma, or a rear-projection model. Once you've settled on a price range, your next consideration should be size. Some people will buy the biggest TV they can afford, whether or not it fits in their room or in the space allotted for the TV. Fortunately, C/Net has some help for you in determing the right size. Your TV purchase should be determined by viewing distance as well as screen size, and of course the price. Here are some tips for selecting the right HDTV for you.

Viewing Distance

More than likely, your new HDTV will occupy the same space as your present one. Therefore, your viewing distance has already been pre-determined. Viewing distance takes into account whether you prefer to sit far from or close to your TV. The shape of your perspective HDTV will also be taken into account. Are you planning to buy one of the traditional squarish sets, or a new wide-screen one? Once you've determined these possibilities, visit C/Net's site and plug in your specs. Up will pop recommendations as to type and size best suited to your viewing preferences. On this same page you should also find more model options by price, television type, and size that will fit with your viewing distance.

Price Ranges

You can find some models for less than $400, but keep in mind that those will generally be the smaller screen sizes. Examples include 20-inch LCD models from Sharp, Samsung, and Sylvania. We found one 32-inch CRT model from RCA that can be had for as low as $400. Raising your price range a bit will give you more choices.

If you move your price range up to $500 plus, you'll find more to choose from, including some flat-panel LCD wide-screen models. Some choices that look good include a couple of 32 inche Vizio models for $600-$700.

Top Picks

Here are some of the top picks by design, features, and performance:

Pioneer Pro-FHD1. If money and size is no object, this set delivers the best picture quality. It's a plasma HDTV, 50-inch screen, and prices range from $4680-$8000.

Mitsubishi's WD-65831 is a little less expensive, at $3050 to $3580. It's a rear-projection type and has a 65-inch screen.

Another HDTV with high ratings is the Pioneer PDP-5070HD. Priced from about $2150 to $5000, it's another 50-inch plasma set.

If your budget can't handle these prices, you can come down a bit in both price and size and still find quality HDTV's, such as Samsung's model LN-S4096D. It's an LCD with a 40-inch screen; prices range from $1600-$3700.

An even better buy might be Samsung's LN-S3251D, a 32-inch LCD gives you excellent picture quality for an even lower price: $900-$1800.

Now That You're Ready to Buy

If you live near a good-sized city, you should be able to find these models at your local Circuit City, CompUSA, or Best Buy, to name a few. You can buy online as well, and some companies offer free shipping, too. Consider the above tips as you make your final decision, and you should be happy with the results.

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