How to get in on the HDTV (r)evolution without breaking your bank

Time for a post related to the division I work in (MSTV). I'm sure most of you would have heard about HDTV and depending on your perspective its a revolution or an evolution. If you care about picture quality and you are one of those folks who would never be happy with a plain vanilla XGA resolution (on computers not TVs) then HDTV is revolutionary. You owe it to yourself to go an see an HDTV (showing HD content!) for some time if you haven't already, and see what a difference it can make. So lets say you are sold and you want one, but what to buy? Especially without spending exorbitantly.

You have quite a few options for buying an HDTV. Most people normally think about those huge big screens costing thousands when they think HDTV, but there are other options. Those big screens HDTVs are usually LCD, rear projection, DLP (Digital Light Projection) or plasma. Apart from costing quite a bit and probably being larger than what your TV size should be based on your room size, some of these solutions have other technical problems. Like for example LCDs have issues with viewing angle, color reproduction, fast motion scenes. Rear projection in general has lower quality compared to the others. DLP and Plasma are better and if your budget allows it you should consider them.

However these is one more alternative that is little talked about. These are Direct View HDTVs which are like your normal Cathode Ray Tube based TV but naturally with a higher HDTV resolution. Actually these are just really big high resolution computer monitors. Technically speaking these have the best color reproduction of all the HDTV technologies (decades of CRT technology evolution) and the picture quality is stunning. The downside is of course that they are bigger and much heavier but most American homes can accomodate these and you probably aren't going to move your TV that often (you should negotiate a free/low priced home delivery with that purchase). What's more these days some manufacturers have these Slim Line Direct View HDTVs which are only half as deep as the normal ones and these are quite reasonable. The big advantage is price. These are much much cheaper. You can get a good 30+ inch widescreen HDTV for around a thousand dollars or less depending on the exact specs. Even if you are tempted by the other cool new technology HDTVs keep in mind that these are maturing technologies that keep falling in price and becoming better. It might be better to take a taste of HDTV using the inexpensive direct view option and go for the others once things improve and the various competing technologies battle it out.

If you are thinking of HDTV then it behooves you to take a look at the Direct View option. It may not be as cool sounding as the other new technologies but it is quite a pragmatic approach. Naturally TV mfrs and retailers don't push them as much since it doesn't make them as much money but then you are smarter than them :)