LCD Universe

When people think about flat, big-screen TVs, they usually think plasma rather than LCD. There's good reason for that - plasma sets were large and widescreen from the get-go, while LCD technology spent most of the past half-decade driving desktop computer monitors. But that situation is changing. Widescreen LCD TVs now come as large as 65 inches (diagonal), and while they still cost more on average than similar-size plasma sets, there are plenty of affordable models to choose from in the 32- to 40-inch range. Larger LCDs also trump plasma on the resolution front: virtually all plasma screens max out at 1,366 x 768 pixels, while many big-screen LCDs bump that number up to 1,920 x 1,080 - theoretically enough to render every bit of detail in 1080i-format HDTV programs.

Nowadays, nearly every TV company offers LCDs, from big names like Toshiba and Sony to a horde of newcomers. So we cherry-picked a mix representing a range of screen sizes, resolutions, and features. Our trio includes LG's 32-inch 32LX1D ($2,300), Westinghouse's 37-inch LVM-37w1 ($2,299), and Sony's 40-inch Bravia KDL-V40XBR1 ($3,500). Could one of these LCDs be your next TV? Let's find out.

What We Think
32LX1D LVM-37w1 Bravia KDL-V40XBR1
A nice choice in this screen size for casual TV watching, but its just-average picture will have movie fans wanting more. 1080p resolution for $2,000 (street price)? A true HDTV bargain if you don't mind plain looks and a couple of operational bugs. Sony's slick-looking LCD TV raises the bar on features and performance, but they come at a pretty steep price.