26″ LCD TVs: Are They Ready for Prime Time?

Price and performance. So long as these things are being met, I think that being worthwhile will find its way into our hearts eventually. Still, unless you are a LCD TV nut or something, having that kind of real estate on a LCD is just insane!

As a follow-up to our article on flat-panel display technologies, we’ve prepared a comparative buyer’s guide to LCD TV sets. Why LCD and not plasma? Because the manufacturers seem to have a clear preference for that technology, despite the undeniable quality advantages of plasma. LCD is less expensive to produce, less demanding technically, and perhaps most importantly, it is of greater appeal to the lower end of the market, where most of the buyers are. Unfortunately, LCD is also the technology that involves the highest risk for the purchaser: LCD specifications are often unrealistic, and quality can vary greatly from one model to another. There’s a very real danger of paying more than $1,000 and getting a bad TV set.

Up until now, the TVs we’ve tested weren’t very attractive, mainly due to their stiff prices. But that’s changing rapidly, and the arrival of computer manufacturers on the market has something to do with the change, as you’ll see shortly.

So, what do you need to know? What criteria do you need to go by in choosing a model? How do you match a model to your kind of viewing? We’re going to try to answer those questions for you and more. This first article is essentially devoted to TV sets that measure 26″ diagonally. A second review will cover sets with larger measurements. [Read the rest]