Guide to buying a new TV

Caroline Cassidy

Plasma TV, LCD, rear projection, 3D... if a trip to the local electrical superstore leaves you with more questions than answers, check out our guide to buying a new TV.

People watching TV
People watching TV

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Which TV?
The type of TV you choose depends on how avid a viewer you are and the type of viewing you prefer. If you enjoy the big screen experience, for example, a projector might be the best option, while sports fans will enjoy the excellent tracking-motion given by a plasma.

For a good quality but affordable telly, an LCD TV is the way to go. These light-weight, flat screens come in a range of sizes so are ideal for smaller rooms, can easily hang on a wall and almost all models these days boast high-definition. The negative is that picture quality can vary depending on your viewing angle.

The rival to the LCD is now the LED, which replaces the bulkier backlight lamps of the LCD with hundreds of smaller light emitting diodes, giving you an even slimmer set and a more energy-efficient product.

Plasma TVs are equally slimline and, with sizes ranging from 42" to over 60", they are perfect for a living room viewing. Excellent contrast and, as previously mentioned, tracking motion combine to give viewers an impressive all-round experience. The new models are also HD ready but non-HD TV broadcasts can lack definition. Plasmas are also a good deal more pricey than LCDs but it is worth paying a little extra for the high-end models.

For movie buffs, a rear projection TV provides the full home cinema experience. With LCD, Digital Light Processing (DLP) and Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) models now available, projectors are able to offer good definition now and if you opt for a Sony model, you'll be guaranteed an HD ready unit. The downside is that you need space in which to place the unit and the bulb, which can take time to warm up, will need to be replaced anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 hours.

Meanwhile, 3D is the big thing these days - this new TV tech hit the market last year and, with 3D movies all the rage, generated some serious interest. However, they are not cheap and their only real advantage is the ability to watch 3D - great for DVD-watchers and gamers but 3D TV is currently limited.

Remember, most new models are HD but it is best to look for the 1080p type as these provide the best picture quality and are HD-ready, meaning you will be able to watch high-definition TV broadcasts.

Buying your TV
Once you've decided which type of TV suits you best, it's time to do some homework on price comparison sites. You may also want to have a look at Comet and Currys - both have an online end-of-line sale.

Also make sure you take a good look in store. View the screen from a variety of angles to ensure picture quality is good from anywhere in your living room, and ask to try the sound at various levels - slim TVs are wonderful space-savers but they typically don't have space for the large high-quality speakers.

It's a good idea to see a variety of images too - fast-moving scenes may cause a ghost-like effect (known as smearing) which would not do for sports fans, while some HD TVs have a tendency to over-sharpen images, leading to a hard jagged edge.

Finally, though any high-tech gadget has the potential to go wrong, a survey by consumer watchdog Which? showed that the majority of good quality HD TVs are reasonably reliable, so think twice before forking out for that extended warranty.

Have you recently bought a new TV? What did you opt for and was it worth the money? Leave your comments below...