Everything You Need to Buy an HDTV Guide | Do I Need One? | Which Set's For Me? | Cost and Features | Where to Find HD Programming | All of the Other Stuff | The Ultimate HDTV Checklist | Slideshow: HDTV Sets | Slideshow: Cables and Inputs
Now that you know everything you need to about HDTVs, it's time to head to the store and start looking.
But before you go, print out a copy of this handy checklist; it will help when you're faced with a wall of television sets and a pushy salesperson who isn't as educated in HDTVs as you are.
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display):
Bright, less expensive than plasma, limited viewing angle
Best possible image with top sets, thin, some risk of images burning in
DLP (Digital Light Projection -- Rear-Projection):
Significantly cheaper than flat-panel displays, great image and long life, limited viewing angle, not as thin as flat-panels
authentic home theater experience, image easily washed out in bright rooms, more expensive than rear-projection
What to Look For:
A 20-inch flat panel LCD starts at around $300-$400 while a 65-inch plasma or 42-inch LCD costs over $3,000
4:3 is standard TV and 16:9 is widescreen
Widescreen (16:9) sets start at 26 inches and climb to over 65 inches. Standard (4:3) sets start at 13 inches and reach sizes over 40 inches
Does the set's minimum and maximum viewing distance jive with the space you have for it?
Does this set have the necessary inputs and outputs for you to hook up your cable or satellite box, DVD player, video game or stereo system or other components? Are the available inputs and outputs true high definition connections (HDMI, DVI or component)?
If you already subscribe to a cable or satellite service, find out what promotions they're offering for the switch to HD. The new HD set-top box they'll send you will have a built in digital TV tuner so you can watch HDTV programming. If you're sticking with a regular TV antenna, you'll need to purchase a digital TV tuner if your set doesn't have one built in.
Make sure to buy the necessary cables to hook all of your components up to your new set (HDMI, DVI or component whenever possible)
If you plan on mounting your flat-panel TV to your wall, see if the retailer offers any specials on mounts and installation in conjunction with your purchase. If you've purchased a warrantee, find out if having someone not affiliated with the retailer voids that warrantee.
The wide shape of your new HDTV likely won't fit in your old entertainment system, so plan ahead or pick something up before you get home.