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? A plasma? An LCD? Consumer Reports, which tests some 150 TVs 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.
The 60-inch Pioneer PDP-6020 FD has the deepest blacks testers have ever seen on a plasma TV.
"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," said Chris Andrade, Consumer Reports.
But that Pioneer is expensive: $5,000.
The $3,200 Samsung PN58 A550 is almost as big and also delivers an excellent picture.
Smaller plasmas can save you even more. The highly rated 50-inch Panasonic TH-50PZ 800U goes for $2,400.
As for LCDs, Consumer Reports says they generally deliver brighter images, making them a better choice for a brightly lit room. But most LCDs have a limited viewing angle.
"So what that means is, as you move off to the side, they tend to deteriorate in picture quality," said Charlie Davidman.
And fast-moving images tend to look blurry. In the Consumer Reports test, you can see the blur.
To help minimize that problem, some LCDs have a special feature called 120-Hertz technology.
The 52-inch Samsung LN 52A750 has it and is one of Consumer Reports' top-rated LCDs. It costs $2,800.
Consumer Reports says if you're willing to scale back on the size of the big-screen TV you're considering, you can save hundreds of dollars -- even more than a thousand.
The top-rated 52-inch LCD costs $2,800, but a 47-inch Vizio that earned high ratings in Consumer Reports tests costs less than half that. It's the Vizio model VO471F for $1,300.
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