Over at Macworld they have a great article on what type of HDTV you should buy and why. Also covered in the article was information concerning the difference between 720p and 1080p, HDMI cables and the differences between LCD, LED and Plasma TV sets. In addition they covered the size of the HDTV you should purchase and why a specific size may be best for your particular TV viewing habits. Overall the information provided was some of the best, straight forward information I have seen presented on the Internet and is a must read for anyone who is shopping for their first HDTV this holiday season.

Here are some points that you should know before making your purchase:

Should I buy a LCD or a plasma TV?

Both types of TVs have their good points and bad points, but the bottom line is price. If you’re looking for a large TV on a shoestring budget, plasmas are your best bet. They’ve been falling out of favor, though, as many manufacturers are increasingly focusing on LED-backlit LCD TVs. In our most recent HDTV roundup, we found that while plasmas have a price advantage over more-expensive LCD sets, and can produce better black levels than LCDs can, they usually didn’t fare so well in overall image quality. Also, LCD TVs are far more power-efficient, so you’ll spend more keeping a plasma TV on over the years.

Remember that plasma TVs aren’t really cost-effective below 40 inches, so if you’re looking for a smaller set you won’t have that option.

My opinion. If you can afford it, get a LED. The picture quality is superb. But if money is your main concern go with a LCD for under 40″ TV sets and Plasma for over 40″. The newer plasma sets are more energy-efficient and meet the more stringent  Energy Star 4.0 requirements. Panel life for plasma sets is approximately 100,000 hours, so if you plan on keeping your TV for while, a plasma will last you a long time.

Generally speaking, bigger is better—and not just because you get to brag about how awesome your TV is. The main thing you should consider when evaluating a new TV (besides your budget, anyway) is how far you’ll be sitting from it.

Audio/video quality certification company THX recommends that a display occupy 40 degrees of your field of vision, which is approximately 3.5 feet away from a 35-inch TV, four feet from a 40-inch model, five feet from a 50-incher, and six feet from a 60-inch set.

I found a guide on the Amazon web site that provides a general guide for you to use:

Why do I want an ethernet port or Wi-Fi adapter on my TV?

Many new HDTVs can connect to your network via ethernet or Wi-Fi. Once you’ve connected your set, you can stream content from the Internet via services such as Amazon Video on Demand, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube (if your TV supports them), and if your TV has the “DLNA Certified” logo, you can also stream media from PCs (but not Macs) and other devices on your home network. We’re just starting to see TVs with Google TV baked in, which brings a fully functional Chrome browser, among other features, to the TV.

If your new HDTV doesn’t come with network capability built-in, don’t fret. Many of the new Blu-ray players are network ready and you also have the option to connect your TV to a network via a Roku, Boxee, Google TV, Apple TV or other device.

What’s the difference between a big-name brand and a no-name brand?

If you’ve been following Black Friday ads, you’ve probably seen some very, very low prices for HDTVs ($200 to $300 for a 720p 32-inch set, $400 to $500 for a 40-inch 1080p set). Sony, in contrast, charges $1700 for its high-end 40-inch KDL-40HX800 set. So what do you get for that extra $1200?

For starters, HDTVs from less-established brands typically don’t have the features of a brand-name set, so don’t expect 3D, network connectivity, calibration options such as 10-point white balance, or a particularly eye-catching design.

You’ll also notice a dramatic difference in image quality. Sets from companies such as Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio generally have better image-processing functions and higher refresh rates, which means that their colors will look more vivid and they’ll handle motion more smoothly.

Great advice. Stick with the major brands and you can’t go wrong.

Why do HDMI cables cost so much?

They shouldn’t. We tested a pair of $3 cables from MonoPrice and Blue Jeans Cable against a $60 AudioQuest cable and a $150 Monster Cable, and found no discernible difference in quality. For short cable runs, even the $30 house-branded HDMI cables are a rip-off. If you’re paying $100 or more for a HDMI cable, well, you’re probably pretty popular at your local electronics store.

I buy my HDMI cables from Amazon and buy their in-house brand called Basic. Pricing is $6.99 for a 6′ HDMI cable and $7.99 for their 9′ cable. These cables provide satisfactory performance for all TV applications and device hookups.

Do I need a 1080p TV? How about a high refresh rate?

LCD TVs with 1080p resolution and 120Hz refresh rates have become increasingly common in the past few years. You’ll still see 60Hz TVs (in both 720p and 1080p resolutions) out there, but typically they’re older inventory or low-end models, or they have smaller screens.

If you’re leaning toward a 720p TV, note that there are a few good reasons to shell out the extra cash for a 1080p set. Although most over-the-air and cable programming is 720p or 1080i, Blu-ray movies and games can take advantage of 1080p, as can some set-top boxes. And the price difference between a 720p set and an equivalent 1080p set is usually no more than $100 or $200—not bad, considering 1080p’s image quality advantages over 720p.

Another rule of thumb is that if you buy a HDTV under 40″, 720p works just fine. But over 40″ you may wish to go with the 1080p set.

Hopefully by using this advice you will be able to make an intelligent decision on which HDTV will best meet your needs.

Comments welcome.

Source – Macworld