At the budget end of the market your choices of display technology are LCD or plasma, but forget the marketing war. Our HDTV Buyer's Guide in the July 09 issue of PC Authority has expert tips, tricks and secrets to buying an HDTV on a budget, including the following advice about screen technologies:
The general consensus is still that the best plasmas look better than the best LCDs, especially when watching sport. LCD screens are brighter, while plasmas offer greater contrast and less motion blur.
This is because LCD starts with a bright backlight and then tries to block the light, whereas plasma starts with a dark screen and then creates light.
The lack of backlighting in plasma displays allows them to produce darker blacks, offering better contrast and detail in the shadows. New high-end LCD televisions from the likes of Samsung and Sony are addressing this with new improvements such as LED backlights.
These respond faster than old CCFL backlights and can dim further, allowing for the creation of blacker blacks.
Sony's XBR series Bravias use RGB Dynamic LED - employing a cluster of red, green and blue LEDs to create the backlight. This allows for more realistic colour reproduction than using white LED backlights.
Until this technology trickles down to budget LCDs, you're still going to get a better picture from a cheap plasma than a cheap LCD.
Also in this series, How to Pick a Great Flat Screen TV, And Not Get Sucked In By Marketing Hype: Part 3: Screen size
Part 2: Refresh rates
Part 1: Brightness and contrast ratios
Also see our 5 tips for buying a digital TV set top box
And also see the lowdown on Freeview, and whether you should care
If you're new to Digital TV, or have yet to make the leap, start by reading Prepare yourself for Digital TV