Most Noteworthy HDTVs for the Holidays

HDTV Slideshow

Darkness is Good: Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-1150HD 50-Inch Plasma

Pioneer chose Kuro, which means "black" in Japanese, as the moniker for its latest line of plasma TVs in order to call attention to the sets' performance when displaying dark images. Pioneer says the HDTVs' black levels are 80 percent better than their predecessors'. The 50-inch model shown here, like the others in the Kuro line, also has what Pioneer calls Optimum Video Mode. An integrated room-light sensor not only monitors ambient lighting, but also appraises the content displayed and makes adjustments (ie., noise reduction) accordingly. In addition, the four HDMI 1.3 ports, detachable side speakers, CableCard slot, and two-year warranty make this TV very appealing.

This model, like the 42-inch Kuro PRO-950HD, has a native resolution of 1365-by-768; for full 1920-by-1080 resolution, you'll need to graduate to its more pricey siblings, the Kuro PRO-110FD and the Kuro PRO-150FD. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Well-Priced Vizio VU42LF 42-Inch LCD TV

With a native resolution of 1920-by-1080 and a price of $1200, Vizio's VU42LF distinguishes itself as one of the lowest-priced 42-inch 1080p LCD TVs available today. Vizio's super-low pricing has helped propel this former unknown into the number two spot in North American HDTV sales, behind Samsung, according to market research firm DisplaySearch. This model measures less than four inches deep, which makes it one of the thicker LCDs we've seen; furthermore, it lacks many extras that more expensive brands have, like extra HDMI ports, a more advanced remote, an SD card slot, and a CableCard slot. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Glass-Framed Sony BRAVIA KDL-46XBR4 46-Inch LCD TV

Sony emphasizes design and style with its Bravia XBR4 LCD TV. The TV sports a glass frame, which adds a beautiful, aesthetic look to this model. If it wasn't already classy enough for your taste, feel free to swap out the black bezel and choose from eight other colors to balance your feng shui. This beauty also offers native 1920-by-1080 resolution, three HDMI inputs, and a 120Hz refresh rate.

You can choose from among three different sizes: the 40-inch KDL-40XBR4, the 46-inch KDL-46XBR4 (pictured here), and the 52-inch KDL-52XBR4. List prices are $3,000, $3,800, and $4,800 respectively. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Thin-Bezeled Mitsubishi Diamond LT-46244 46-Inch LCD TV

Thin-bezel frames are in this season. Eight of Mitsubishi's latest LCD HDTVs boast less than a one-inch-wide frame. The most full featured models of this armada are the 46-inch Diamond LT-46244 (pictured) and the 52-inch Diamond LT-52244. Because of its thin frame, the company says that the 46-inch display takes up the same space that an average 42-inch set would occupy. In addition to native 1920-by-1080 resolutions, these sets also feature a 120Hz refresh rate, HDMI 1.3, and a USB port so that you can easily plug in a digital camera to view your photos.

Rounding out this display is a built-in CableCard slot. A TV that has a such a slot can be used to view digital cable broadcasts, even scrambled ones, without a cable set-top box, using a CableCard, which may be obtained from your cable provider. Such slots are becoming increasingly harder to find this year, as some manufacturers have chosen to back away from this nascent technology. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

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