If you're about to go out and buy the family that 50-inch flat screen you've been eyeing, I say congratulations. You'll love your new HDTV.
But wait. There is lots of confusing lingo out there. Do you want Plasma, LCD or DLP? What about all those numbers you hear about: 720P or 1080i or 1080P? And how much to spend? You'll see some $1,000 50-inch sets and other 50-inch sets that cost upwards of $6,000.
In HDTVs, as with most anything else, you get what you pay for. That $1,000 Costco model is not going to look as good as the Pioneer Elite you get from a high end store (with the high end price). But unless you have that super high end model in your home or are a real videophile, you're probably not going to know the difference. So don't get caught up in side-to-side comparisons at Best Buy between the one you want and the one you should buy. The one you want does look better. At home, you'll only have one and it will blow you away. Now, if you're upgrading to a new HDTV and coming out of an older one, your equation certainly changes.
My guess is everyone knows where they fall there.
For most newbies, though, upgrading to HD will be a quantum leap over that's 27-inch 250-pound behemoth sitting on that 10-year old stand (with the glass casing cracked or missing).
Here's a few easy basics. Choose the progressive TVs (1080P or 720P) over interlaced ones (1080i). They look better. If you're buying 40 inches or larger, buy plasma, they look better. If you have an extra bright room, consider LCD.
DLP sets are cheaper but are bulkier. You cannot hang them on the wall and they don't look as good as plasma or LCD.
Last, people will tell you there's no difference between 1080P and 720P, at least at longer distances. Yes and no. The 1080P set costs more and can render full resolution HD from videogame and HD-DVD and Blu-Ray sources. And while your eye cannot see a huge resolution difference from 8 feet between competing 720P and 1080P models, the newer 1080Ps can render more colors, better blacks and simply look better.
And now to the video. Get your notebooks ready.