The Guide Buying a Flat Screen TV
As well as looking good on or off, they''re also better for viewing digital channels (you don''t need a digital box), or terrestrial channels (which will be turned off from next year as the digital switchover commences) And then there''s the picture quality, which experts say is far superior to the old CRT tellyAs well as looking good on or off, they''re also better for viewing digital channels (you don''t need a digital box), or terrestrial channels (which will be turned off from next year as the digital switchover commences). And then there''s the picture quality, which experts say is far superior to the old CRT telly. With high definition technology, the screen delivers an image with more depth and less ''visual noise''. This allows you to sit closer without your eyes straining.
Add to this the fact that LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs have lower power consumption and a wider viewing angle, and you viewing experience has just gone from pre-historic to space age. Ready to slim down?
Get with the programme
There are two main categories of flat screens - plasma or LCD. On the eco-side, LCD screens use less power than plasma, but if it''s a larger, brighter ''cinema'' style screen you''re after, opt for plasma (they range from about 42 to 100 inches).
Flat screens are real attention-grabbers. Great if you want to make it a feature, but not if you prefer more discreet appliances, or have a snugger living space (or bedroom/kitchen). For smaller models, John Kempner from John Lewis recommends Grundig. ''Their new range of 15" & 19" models each have an integrated DVD player: excellent value with prices starting from ?249. For mid size (26"), the most popular include the Samsung 26R87 (?549) and the Panasonic 26LMD70 (?549).''
Celebrate the silver screen
If you have the space and enough mates to hold regular viewings, go large (32"+) and try Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Philips or Toshiba. A recent Which? survey found Panasonic Viera TX-32LXD600the best LCD TV by virtue of its great picture quality, wide viewing angles and extra features (such as memory cards for downloading pictures, from ?1170). And Which? also commended the Sony Bravia KDL 40X2000U- 40 inch screen (about ?2,300) as ''a fantastic all-rounder'' with great high definition pictures, impressive sound, and a light sensor to help save power consumption at night.
Optimise the clarity
Where will the flatscreen live? Avoid the glare from unwanted daylight or overhead lights by placing it thoughtfully. Overly-busy wallpaper may also distract viewers from the screen. _Which?_experts also recommend checking the clarity of pictures by bringing your own DVD to the shop and asking to try one on screen before you buy. Flat panel TVs use digital-processing software to put the picture on the screen, which may not be spot on, so look out for tell-tale signs of poor quality, such as jagged edges, colour fade and smearing.
Celebrate your screen
Think of a new, sleek flatscreen as a blank canvas on which to display artwork. John Kempner at John Lewis says, ''Examples of TVs with built in photo card reader include the Panasonic 32LXD700 and the Panasonic 42PZ70. Many TVs from major brands have a USB socket which is a convenient way of connecting devices such as digital cameras to the TV or the PlayStation 3, from which you''re able to view slide shows or images of your choice.''
Remember the extras
Although the majority of flatscreens are HD ready (showing sharper, more detailed, high definition pictures than those on your regular telly), you may still need to sign up (and pay for) certain packages such as Sky or Virgin to get HDTV broadcasts. It''s also worth checking if you''re in a Freeview reception area.
Choose the eco option
Sadly, plasma TVs consume about four times more energy than traditional cathode ray tube models. However, the best of a bad bunch include the Philips 42PF7621D42 inch LCD television, which won European green TV of the year (still, it''s a hefty 210W output, compared to the old style telly - a portable uses only 39W).
For more customer reviews and product info, visit Samsung LN52B750 LCD. For reviews on other LCD HDTV models