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How to Choose an HDTV

Updated on July 18, 2009

One of the hardest things to do in the 21st century, is to choose an HDTV. That sounds like an overstatement but is it really? This is a big investment for most Americans. Throwing down 5-15 Ben Franklins is a big choice. Because it’s an entertainment device, and because it’s “just a tv” distracts us from the reality that this could be one of the biggest investments that you will make in the coming years. Don’t be deceived by the fact that it is a television. It isn’t. It’s part of a large interconnected home entertainment system with more options, bells and whistles then you can even imagine. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your wallet/purse to do some major research on this topic. Plan to buy it three months ahead after you complete all the research that lies ahead of you.

To alleviate your fears, I have some good news for you. Are you concerned whether it’s an LCD or Plasma? Don’t worry about it. They are basically the same these days and there is little difference between them. If the tv will be used for action or sports, a plasma is slightly better for you. If you want one under 42 inches or in a bright room, an LCD is slightly better. That’s it. What you should really be concerned about is how it will connect to your other equipment. This is where the research comes in.

A few words of caution when researching. Do not go into a store and look at them, and do not look at prices online or in circulars. This will distract you and pressure you to make an ill-formed decision. Let me explain why. Most HDTV’s have a special viewing setting that is designed for in-store use only. Many times it’s called the “vivid” setting. To sell there products, companies ship their HDTV’s to the store with this setting preprogrammed. It blares colors and whites. This looks wonderful in the store because the store lights are so bright and this is the only way to capture the consumer’s attention. But, once it’s taken home, the “vivid” setting can never be used again because in the natural home setting, it looks plain ugly! Secondly, LCD’s handle bright lights better. They will look better in the brightly lit stores. Don’t base your decision on looking at in-the-store models. Finally, sale tags may pressure you into buying on the spot before the sale ends. Don’t succumb to this pressure. Only look at store models when you have finished researching and you are looking at the “trim” or “moulding.”

One of the most important aspects of buying an HDTV is to make sure, make doubly sure, that it has all the connections you need. How many HDMI ports do you need? Do you still need optical cords from your sound system? Will this connect to your computer? If so, does it have the correct ports? Your HDTV and audio sound system should go together.

The Best Choice for you in High Definition

For many people, choosing their new television in the only upgrade that they are considering when updating their audio/visual or home entertainment system. This is a serious error in judgment that really isn’t their fault. When they buy their new HDTV, they aren’t worried about ports, sockets, and cords, but they should be. Many things have changed since their previous television.

HDTV provides digital quality picture and sound. If you don’t care about the sound quality, or have little need for a surround sound system, this is one of the components that you can either get rid of, not update, or ignore and it will save you money

Programming…The first component you must upgrade is your programming. If you use Dish, Direct TV, Comcast, or another provider, you must change your programming to HD. But you need a new feed/signal, a High Definition signal. Make sure that you give your provider advanced notice because they need to change the signal to your satellite or set top box, and they may need to change your equipment.

Set-top box…This is your cable or satellite box that receives the signal from your provider. If you have cable, the signal comes directly from the wall, if you have satellite, you will probably need a new satellite outside to receive the signal.

Audio Receiver…If you have or want an audio receiver, now is the time to research it. If you want to use your old one, make sure that your new HDTV has the correct ports for it.

DVD or Blu-ray…Depending on your set-top box (broadcast signal receiver) you may want to also purchase a new DVD or Blu-ray.

Gaming system…Check your current gaming system and make sure that you have the correct, and enough, ports on the HDTV.

Computer…If you want to connect your computer to the HDTV, check the capabilities and ports of both and make sure your HDTV can handle it.

Tips…and Steps

  1. Make a map of all of your components.
  2. Purchase all the cords you need before you buy the equipment.
  3. Find a techie to help you, experiment, research, and read all owner manuals.


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