These are some considerations sometimes overlooked by sources such as professional sites, magazines, newsgroups, and forums. They should be used alongside such other advice, which preferably should include 'What Hifi?' reviews, 'Which?' reports, and so on. This is not intended as a comprehensive, standalone guide to buying a TV.
In UK TV newsgroups, outsiders often drift in asking for advice in choosing a new TV. For a number of reasons, the replies are often less helpful than they could and should be:
It's unhelpful to those seeking impartial advice to pontificate one's own biases, therefore, so the reader knows and can make any allowances required, I'll state that with some reservations I'm mostly pro-LCD, and currently own a couple of Standard Definition LCD TVs, which give me my best home TV pictures to date.
As with any significant purchase, prior research is important. It's no good just flinging money at whatever the latest technology happens to be, say LCD &/or HD, and expecting everything to be perfect just because it was a lot of money and it's the latest technology.
Overridingly important as the picture is, there are other factors to keep in mind:
Take some DVDs/Blu-Rays† around the stores and ask to see them played back on the sets with the most promising pictures. This will give direct comparisons both between those in the shop and with your current set at home, then make a decision on what the eyes (and the bank account) say.
However, note that the player used to play these, and the way it is connected to the prospective TV, are significant. For DVDs, you need a SCART RGB connection from the player to the TV, which may have to be configured in the menu(s) of either or both devices, as the default SCART mode may be inferior quality Composite Video. Plasmas may require a Component Video (not to be confused with Composite Video) connection, which is of comparable quality to RGB. For Blu-Ray, you should use a digital connection such as DVI or HDMI.
Another concern is that, by general agreement in relevant newsgroups such as uk.tech.digital-tv, TVs perform best when adjusted to minimise alteration to the incoming signal. At very least, that should be the starting point for adjustment. When viewing to purchase, if you can, go into the menus, set all picture controls to their mid-point, and disable options such as filters and artificial intelligence that aren't required to show a basic picture. In general home appliance stores, don't be surprised if Mr/Ms HowCanIAvoidHelpingYouSir has no idea what you mean; try and get to work the remote yourself.
Also tune the set to BBC News 24 or Sky News to see how it shows poor quality material such as news clips, and then take a look at what you'd normally watch at home from the same source as you would normally watch it at home - DTT (Freeview), satellite, cable, DVD, or Blu-Ray. Particularly with UK DTT (Freeview), but also to a lesser extent with satellite, over-compression of transmissions is a significant problem. Any such shortcomings in the source signal will show up much more clearly on bigger and more expensive sets, and, although it's actually the source material's fault rather than the TV's, if, for most of what you view, a more expensive set just shows the flaws in the signal more clearly, that's a valid reason not to spend extra money. It's easier to justify an expensive set if you are going to be watching mostly good source material such as DVDs / HD / Blu-Ray.
† Hire some if necessary - I suggest a good mix of 3 - 5 including at least:
High Definition (HD) is a new broadcast standard of higher resolution than Standard Definition, requiring completely new equipment throughout from camera to television. For the consumer this means replacing TV & STB. When buying new kit, you should ensure that it can both receive and display broadcasts in the following resolutions:
|Standard Definition||576i||720 × 576 interlaced + Stereo Sound|
|High Definition||1080i||1920 × 1080 interlaced + Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound|
In the UK, a limited choice of HD programmes has been available via satellite and cable for some time - some flagship BBC programmes such as 'Planet Earth' and 'Wimbledon', some ITV programmes, and from Sky and Virgin packages. HD from the four main terrestrial broadcasters will start to broadcast on Freeview from December 2009 with Digital Switch Over (DSO).
HD WARNINGS - The HD Ready stickers on TVs for sale have been much criticised in knowledgeable circles, as they mean merely that the TV can display HD video. Note that: