Philips 34PW9819 34-inch HDTV Monitor

They say that "reality TV" programs where people marry someone they just met or jockey for advantage in competitions by playing naked have injected new life into television. But for me, it's high-definition TV that has made tube-watching fun again. And while I'm often impressed by expensive flat-panel sets, it's the affordable CRT (cathode-ray tube) TVs that I recommend to friends - sets like the Philips 34PW9819.

Fast Facts
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 36 1/2 x 21 1/4 x 23 1/4 inches WEIGHT 176 1/2 pounds PRICE $2,600 MANUFACTURER Philips Electronics,, 800-531-0039
Key Features
• Widescreen HDTV monitor • Copy-protected DVI input • Pixel Plus processing for standard signals • inputs DVI; 2 wideband component-video (480p/1080i, one switchable to RGB+H/V), standard component-video, and 4 composite/S-video (one on side), all with stereo audio; analog RF antenna/cable • outputs composite-video with stereo audio; front L/R and mono surround audio

Why do I recommend tube TVs in this era of digital microchip marvels? First off, it's their reasonable prices. Not too many people have loads of surplus cash these days, so I'm not comfortable talking up plasma models that cost almost as much as a new car. Second, it's their image quality. CRT-based sets - specifically, direct-view CRTs - can deliver truly jaw-dropping video performance with both standard and high-def programs. And unlike some of the costly plasma, DLP (Digital Light Processing), and LCD models, there's no compromised black level or weird digital image artifacts to contend with. With a tube TV, the picture usually ends up being worth every penny you paid for it.

The 34PW9819 is Philips's top-of-the-line direct-view HDTV monitor. A silver-tone case gives it a high-tech sheen, and there are virtually no control buttons on the front to detract from its luster. (The traditional front-panel A/V input is tucked away on the side.) The TV's widescreen tube is perfectly flat, which helps to minimize reflected light from windows and lamps.