With Super Bowl XLII just around the corner, the editors of Consumer Reports have come up with some tips for optimal game viewing.
Football fans who didn't make the jump to buying an HDTV before the holidays might be considering a new set for Super Sunday. Here are some tips on buying the best screen while sticking to a budget.
One of the first things to consider is between buying an LCD or plasma. More new TVs - both plasma and LCDs - can display excellent picture quality with high-definition programming, though lower-scoring models fall short of that to varying degrees.
The best sets are better than ever. The Panasonic TH-50PZ700U had the best picture of any flat-panel TV that CR ever tested. One of the new breed of 1080p plasma sets, it combines "full HD" - 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution, the highest currently available - with the characteristic strengths of plasma technology. Its ability to reproduce the finest detail, plus its rich, vibrant colors and deep blacks, lend an almost three-dimensional look to images.
CR says plasma TVs make a blockbuster first impression. A scant 6 inches thick or less, these sleek flat panels display bright images on screens measuring about 3 to 5 feet diagonally. With more models 50 inches and larger now available, plasma TVs have become a viable alternative to rear-projection sets for anyone seeking a jumbo screen.
Plasma screens offer a wider viewing angle than most rear-projection sets and LCD TVs, along with deeper blacks and smoother motion than you get with LCD sets.
LCD TVs outsold plasmas by about three to one last year, in part because they come in more, and smaller, sizes than plasmas, which start at 42 inches.
But CR says those people buying a bigger TV shouldn't blindly follow the crowd down the LCD path. In some cases, a plasma display can give a more satisfying TV-watching experience.
Whichever TV type consumers ultimately decide on, CR recommends not skimping on screen size. In CR's surveys, many consumers said they would buy a bigger set if they could do it over. A 40- to 42-inch screen is a sensible choice for an average-sized room; a 46- to 50-inch or larger TV requires greater distance between you and the screen to ensure optimal picture quality.
Among LCDs, some CR Best Buys include the 46-inch Sony Bravia KDL-46S3000 at $1,900 and the 40-/42-inch Toshiba REGZA 42HL67 at $1,150. Among plasmas, the jumbo 720p screen Vizio Maximus VM60PHDTV10A at $2,500 and the 50-inch Panasonic TH-50PX75U at $2,000 were designated as CR Best Buys.