Are you getting your first HDTV set for Christmas, or perhaps just in time for the bowl
games? Congratulations and welcome to America's fastest-growing 'club'.
You probably have already noticed that there is a confusing array of HDTV displays,
technologies and prices from which to choose. As you do your research on which
display technology to consider and what size screen to buy, try not to believe all the
hype surrounding the buying process at the retail level. While the good news is that
HDTV prices are dropping -- fast! The bad news is that many TV sales people, while
they try to sound authoritative, are just as overwhelmed and confused as you are and
can only parrot what they have been told in product familiarization sessions.
Here are a few general tips that may help you wade through the buzz, the hype and
the unrelenting blizzard of unfamiliar technical terms.
First, decide three things ahead of time:
• the amount you want to spend, or can afford to spend - set limits
• the size screen you plan to get, and any space considerations
• which HD provider you will use, and whether you will buy or 'rent' your HD box
"...the amount you spend on HDTV may be limited
by your budget...you should also consider that, in
most cases, your actual cost...will be higher..."
While the amount you plan to spend on an HDTV may be limited by your budget, you
should also consider that, in most cases, your actual cost to join the 'HDTV club' will be
higher than you thought because it is not only a factor of your choice of display technology,
and screen size, but the initial and ongoing costs of your HD programming provider.
: "Bigger is better" Some folks who purchased their first hi-def television
set say they wished they had bought a larger set, but for many of us, that advice has to
be tempered by the amount we can realistically afford to spend. In some cases, space
and viewing distance will be limiting factors. While it's true you can sit closer to a hi-def
image, chances are, much of your viewing will still be in SD (Standard Definition) for the
foreseeable future. If possible, avoid buying an HD set with a reflective 'glare screen'
-- you'll thank me later.
: Basically, your choices today are LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), DLP
(Digital Light Processing) and Plasma. There may be a few analog RP (Rear Projection)
sets still around, but while these sets generate excellent HD pictures and may be offered
at close-out prices, they are bulkier than their flat-panel successors and are of an older,
obsolete technology. LCD will usually be cheaper than DLP or Plasma for a given screen
size, or conversely, you can typically get a larger LCD screen for the equivalent investment.
: It has been estimated that about half of HDTV set buyers do not have
a source of hi-def programming from cable, satellite or OTA (Over-The-Air). Whether by
choice or ignorance, these HD set owners are missing out on the real benefit of owning
an HDTV -- the pure enjoyment of watching an absolutely stunning, crystal-clear, almost
3-D like picture. Other than the cost of an antenna, OTA is free, but if you want more than
just part-time local/network HD programming, be sure to consider the initial and monthly
cost of satellite or cable HD and include those costs in your budgetary considerations.
Finally, after taking delivery of your shiny new HDTV and having had a chance to enjoy
the myriad of choices in HD programming, be sure to share your experience here, and
also drop by DBSTalk's "Best Network HD"
Poll and give us your
opinion as to which
HD programmer or program that you think has the best HD PQ (Picture Quality) of all.