Knowing the essential ins and outs of HDTV before you leave the house means you won’t be sorry after you bring home your big new purchase. Here are the top 10 things to know before you buy:
1. Genuine HDTV? A minimum of 1280 x 720 pixels — or little points of light — means you’re in genuine HDTV waters, while EDTVs (enhanced definition TV), offer lower resolutions. Make sure you go with true HDTV.
2. Slim is in. The popular plasma type HDTVs tout generally “truer blacks” when it comes to contrast, while LCD, which costs more per inch, is typically brighter. Huge, boxy, rear projection sets are cheap, but the viewing angle and brightness can be spotty.
3. My favorite movie. Test drive potential HDTV purchases with your own DVD. Colorful, fast-moving titles like "Pirates of the Caribbean" work best.
4. How hi is up? Cable channels that offer HD generally broadcast in 720p, which is great quality, while some transmit in 1080i, which is even higher, though many debate on whether it’s actually better.
5. Tune in or out? To grab free, local high-def network channels over the air with an antenna, make sure your HDTV has a built-in tuner.
6. Good connections. While most HDTVs have component (red, green and blue) video inputs to connect to your cable, satellite tuner and DVD player, double check to make sure.
7. Plugging in. Connect your gear together using the highest resolution connections possible. DVI/HDMI is highest, followed by component, S-Video, plain Video-in, and finally the lowliest of low-quality lows, old fashioned Coax.
8. Wide or Not. You can choose between showing bars on either side of a non-widescreen program so that the image looks correct, or you can zoom it to fill the screen.9. Make Adjustments. HDTVs ship from the factory with the settings cranked up high in order to show off on the showroom floor.
10. Surrounded by Sound. Now that you’re feasting your eyes on a super hi-def picture, don’t forget the sound. HDTV boasts Cineplex-like surround sound – providing you have a receiver and speaker system to hear it.