Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday TV buying guide

Looking for a television or computer this Christmas? Now’s not a bad time to buy.
Computers are as cheap as they’ve ever been and prices for HDTVs are dropping. You can buy a 32-inch HD set, a good entry-level size for the technology, for as little as $399, nearly half of what low-end models cost 12 to 18 months ago.
The rectangular-shaped HDTVs, used with equipment to receive HD signals, can deliver pictures that are much sharper than the old box-shaped TV. Plus they’re flatter and much lighter. To get the HD signals, you have to have a set-top box from your satellite or cable TV provider or a TV with a built-in digital tuner and an HD antenna.
Value HD Sets: Smaller is always cheaper. You can find 22-inch sets going for $229.99. But about the smallest you’ll want for everyday use is probably a 26-inch model. Our pick? Westinghouse’s 32-inch W3223 set ($449.99 at most retailers currently or $100 off normal pricing).
Lower priced/value option: Again, it’s about size. Step up in price and you get a wealth of 32- to 37-inch flat screens to choose from. And with HDTV, bigger screens generally look better.
You can also choose a rear-projection DLP set. DLPs don’t give out the crisp pictures that plasmas and LCDs do, and you can’t hang them on a wall, but you get more screen for less money. That’s why our pick here is the 56-inch Samsung DLP HL56A650 ($999.99).
Big splurgers: We think plasmas have better pictures than LCDs. They have deeper blacks, handle fast-motion better and more life-like. If money’s no object, go get a Pioneer Elite 60-inch for $7,000. You’ll think you’re looking out the window. But a better bet, even for splurgers, is to save some cash and get the Pioneer-lite, the Panasonic 58-inch PZ800U, which is $3,100 but generates about the second best picture out there among flat screens.


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Anonymous said...

Big reason not to get plasma: LCD TVs are now available in 120 Hz and 240 Hz varieties which have much, MUCH sharper pictures than plasmas, which are limited to 60 Hz. The only real reason to get a plasma at this point is if the TV is above a certain size, where plasmas become cheaper than LCDs. Having owned both plasma and LCD TVs, I can attest that while plasmas used to have the edge, they've lost it to LCDs in every respect but one (excess cost at very large sizes).