For a long time, flat-panel TVs were linked with the future in the popular imagination. And when they finally became a reality, they were still out of reach for most people, costing ten grand or more. But these days it's a different world. For less than $3,000, you can bring home a 42-inch plasma HDTV.
Photos by Tony Cordoza Check it out:In the LabFeatures Checklist At the height of the stock-market bubble a few years back, I'd occasionally field a call from a rich guy - or his assistant - seeking advice on the cool, new flat-panel plasma TVs he'd been hearing about.
Q Why at this time of near-perfect plasma TVs are there no sets available in the 65-to-85-inch range? I would like to consider one of the new Panasonic or Samsung models for my home theater but require a set with a screen size larger than 65 inches.—Steve Stolte / Cedar Rapids, IA
Way up on the list of reader questions we field on a regular basis is, "Which is better, plasma or LCD?" Compared with more affordable tube-type TVs, both technologies are relatively new. But their flat form factor, combined with an ultra-bright picture that looks good from any position on your couch, gives many folks a spasm of techno-lust.
When progressive-scan DVD players first emerged almost two years ago, the already excellent picture quality we'd come to expect from standard players suddenly got a whole lot better. That's because the new models could convert video signals to a progressive-scan format for display on a TV or monitor with progressive-scan capabilities.
Q. I've been using separates in my surround system for some time and have a collection of high-end amplifiers. But the surround processing modes, HDMI connectivity, and video upconversion on my preamp/processor are now out of date. New receivers seem to have the latest technology at a much more reasonable price than most of the pre/pros with similar attributes.