Flat Panel Shopping Tips
Flat panels, and especially plasmas, are big, relatively heavy and very fragile. Internet sites often offer the best price, but be sure you know who you're dealing with and what their return policies are should your TV be defective, or if you just plain don't like it. A flat panel is a big, expensive item to ship. A local retailer might charge more, but offer invaluable service should you not be happy with your purchase or have a defective unit.
Don't Buy A Floor Model TV No Matter How Deep The Discount A floor model TV is really the worst deal ever. Those things are driven harder than rental cars. The guy who's offering you the deal has walked in day after day, month after month, and turned the thing on at 10am and off again at 10pm. That's twelve ours a day of pure torch mode. This is worse than dog years- that TV has lived seven years of normal use per month on the showroom floor.
You Don't Need A Power Line Conditioner To Get HD From Your HDTV
It's amazing how many people buy a TV and come home with a big, new multi-hundred dollar power line conditioner, even when shopping at the "no commission" big box store. The bottom line is that while a PLC might offer some utility in having a whole bunch of surge-protected outlets in a single box, your HDTV will still show you a high-def picture if you feed it a high-def source. With or without a PLC. Only buy it if you really need it, and don't expect any miracles in improved image quality.
You Do Need A High-Definition Source To Get HD From Your HDTV
HDTVs are great and grand, and they will often make DVDs and other standard definition material look better than ever. But for real high-def you need a high-def source. Don't be confused into believing that those new "upconverting" DVD players are real HD. The only true high-def disc players out there are Blu-ray or HD DVD players. Your cable provider will offer HD either with a CableCARD tuner or a digital cable set-top box. "Digital" and high-def aren't synonymous. Ask to be sure what your cable company is offering. Both DISH Network and DirecTV have a lot of HD programming, but you need to have the right dish and the right set-top box to get HD. And if you've got an antenna or even a pair of rabbit ears that can get over-the-air stations from a major metropolitan area, odds are you can get some HD. MAke sure you feed HD to your HDTV!
Get the Right Cables
HD signals are carried on component video cables and HDMI cables. Some slightly older devices might have DVI connectors, which are also HD capable. Component video is a bundle of three cables, one each for red, green and blue and carries only video signals. HDMI is a single cable that carries HD video and hi-res audio on a single cable. It often offers superior image quality, so use it whenever possible. Your cable or satellite HD content provider is likely to offer a set-top box that offers HDMI and this is the best connection to every HD DVD and Blu-ray disc player. DVI is still around, and it offers HD video, but no audio. It is backward compatible with HDMI via a simple and inexpensive breakout cable with HDMI at one end and DVI at the other. Don't buy or use any other cables and expect to use it with an HD source.
Additional Note: If you're going to run 1080p video over HDMI, make sure a repeater/booster is included in the cable if your run is over 25-feet. That doesn't mean you have to buy the million dollar ultra cable made of pure unobtainium- there are plenty of reasonably priced brands with repeaters.