Best Buy: HDTVs

(National) March 7, 2005 - In stores high definition TVs are eye-catching. The picture quality is often far better than anything available from a standard-definition television.

At its best high definition has almost photo-like detail and clarity, but skinny plasma HDTV s are expensive. One 63-inch set costs $24,999. Consumer Reports' Gerard Catapano says you don't have to pay anywhere near that much to get a very good high-definition TV.

A conventional, 32-inch "HD ready" set costs $1000. No matter what kind of TV you're considering, Catapano says HD-ready is the least expensive way to get high definition, "You'll need a receiver. You can rent one from your cable company, or you can buy one for a few hundred dollars from your satellite company."

Catapano says another high-definition decision is whether to get a standard, square-shaped screen or one with a wide screen, called a 16-by-9, "With a 16-by-9 aspect ratio HDTV your HD programming will completely fill the screen. With the traditional 4-by-4 set HD programming will have bars on the top and bottom."

There are many different kinds of HD-ready TVs. Besides plasma Consumer Reports has tested rear-projection sets with huge screens and trim LCD sets, but they're all pricey.

If you want the very best picture, testers say a top-rated conventional set with high-definition capability is the way to go. Among conventional HD-ready TVs Consumer Reports recommends two from Sony's Hi Scan line: the 32-inch square screen, which costs $1000, or the 30-inch wide-screen, which also goes for $1000.

You can get more help deciding which kind of HDTV set is right for you on Consumer Reports' Web site. There you'll find the pros and cons of plasma TVs, LCD sets and other options.

by Judi Gatson

posted 6:00pm by BrettWitt

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this Web site. Copyright © 2000-2004 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.