Even if you plan to buy your HDTV online, with the sort of cash you'll be splashing you should check out high-definition television sets in person. Our buying advice can show you how to get the most out of your store visit.
Before you go
1. Check your video sources. If you don't already have high-def video sources - an HD digital cable or satellite box, a DVR, or a Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD player - at least investigate them beforehand to determine the number and types of inputs and cables you'll need. If you buy your HD gear first, an installer will be able to hook it all up to your new set and troubleshoot problems.
If the set you like is short on inputs, don't despair. Add-on HDMI 1.3 switcher boxes from Gefen, Iogear, Oppo, and others cost about £50 to £100. But refrain from purchasing add-on surround-sound speakers until after your HDTV is installed so that you can correctly evaluate sound quality and speaker placement with the new set.
2. Choose a showroom. Go first to specialty home theatre shops that stock the sets you like. They tend to have quiet, dimly lit areas much like real living rooms, while the brightly lit, noisy showrooms at the big-box stores make comparisons difficult.
3. Bring test movies with you. They should be on both DVD and high-definition media (Blu-ray or HD DVD); rent if necessary. Last year's remake of 'Casino Royale' has plenty of fast action and night scenes for comparing smooth motion and black quality.