I'm talking TVs with Jo Whiley on Radio 1 at noon today. In order to save myself from having to remember those hellishly convoluted model names (see below), I thought I’d drain my brain onto my blog.
- Best Plasma: Pioneer Kuro PDP-428XD 42in (£1,500)
- Best LCD: Sony Bravia KDL-40W3000 (40in - £1,200)
- Best budget big screen: Panasonic TH-42PX70 (42in Plasma £650)
- Best bedroom TV: Hitachi's 19in WDVB (£250)
- Most ridiculous TV: Hanspree's Hansdribbling football-shaped TV
- Dinkiest TV: Elonex's 7in Digital TV Photo Frame (£99)
- Plasmas have better blacks because they’re not backlit.
- LCDs are lighter and can last longer. Sometimes - but not always - they use less power than plasma screens.
- It's best to see for yourself and judge which you like.
Q. What should I look for in a big TV?
- Make sure you have at least two – and ideally 4 – HDMI sockets, for a start. The HDMI connection plugs into hi-def sources like a games console, satellite box or computer. It's the new Scart.
- ALSO – WAIT! This is the time of year when the new range of TVs come out, so my advice is wait a month or two. That way you’ll get the pick of cutting-edge TVs or last year’s range at bargain prices.
- Make sure you don't get fobbed off with a 2 or 3 year old model, though – things are changing very quickly.
Q What's new about the latest TV models?
- Crucially, new TVs should have a digital Freeview tuner built in. As analogue signals are already being switched off, you must make sure whatever you buy has a digital tuner.
- The new ranges of TV are thinner, lighter, and have more connections than before. There's a bit of a move away from boring black surrounds too - a lot of new sets have splashes of colour. Finally, a good number of screens are more eco-conscious than before: they'll use less power, and are made out of recycled or recyclable material
- Most big screens also have stickers saying ‘Full HD’, which guarantees the highest resolution you can get (technically known as 1080p). Sets that have 'HD ready' only go up to 1080i... which sounds similar, but isn't as good. You can find out more in our jargon buster guide.
Q Is High Definition the future?
Definitely! The only problem is that it will still be a few years before we get hi-def TV through our aerials (we're hoping it'll arrive for the 2012 London Olympics) But there are other ways of going HD...
- The Xbox 360 is also a hi-def games console, and although it doesn't feature Blu-Ray you can download hi-def movies over the web onto its hard drive.
- Satellite and cable subscription services are offering HD services now.
- This spring Freesat finally launches, which means free-to-air hi-def channels from BBC and C4, with more to come. You'll need to buy a dish and set-top box, mind.
Q What about watching TV on a computer?
There are plenty of ways of watching TV on your computer.
- You can buy a digital freeview tuner in the shape of a USB stick for as little as £50. It'll turn your computer into a TV - although, you'll need to plug in an aerial of course. You can even record video to your PC's hard drive.
- Alternatively you can use video streaming services such as the brilliant BBC iPlayer or YouTube. Both are now also available for iPhone and iPod Touch.
- Finally, you can plug a Slingbox into your TV or satellite box – it allows you to access your home TV anywhere in the world on laptop or even mobile phone.