Big Screen Flat TV's

November 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Big, flat-screen TV's, both LCD and plasma, are usually hot sellers around the holidays. Considering the economy, this year may be different. But the good news is prices are expected to be 20 to 30 percent lower than a year ago. Stores are filled with big-screen, high-definition televisions. Because of the glut, you can expect to see lower prices as we head into the holidays. But what's your best bet? Plasma or an LCD?

Consumer Reports, which tests some 150 TV's a year, says each has its advantages.

Plasmas give you a bigger screen for the money. And they typically deliver deeper blacks and better contrast. This 60-inch Pioneer has the deepest blacks testers have ever seen on a plasma TV.

Chris Andrade, Consumer Reports, says "When you're watching darker movies, such as this, not only does it show all the detail in the dark areas, but instead of looking a bit grayish this one keeps them nice and deep black."

But that Pioneer is expensive at five-thousand dollars. This 32-hundred dollar Samsung is almost as big and also delivers an excellent picture.

Smaller plasmas can save you even more. This highly rated 50-inch Panasonic goes for 24-hundred dollars.

As for LCD's, Consumer Reports says they generally deliver brighter images, making them a better choice for a brightly lit room. But most LCD's have a limited viewing angle.

"So what that means is, as you move off to the side, they tend to deteriorate in picture quality," says Andrade.

And fast-moving images like this tend to look blurry. In this Consumer Reports' test, you can see the blur. To help minimize that problem, some LCD's have a special feature called 120-hertz technology. This 52-inch Samsung has it and is one of Consumer Reports' top-rated LCD's. It costs 28-hundred dollars.

Consumer Reports says if you're willing to scale back on the size of the big-screen TV you're considering, for example from a 52-inch to a 47-inch, you can save hundreds of dollars - even more than a thousand.

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