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Its one category of technology that has gone through the maximum number of changes. From a klunky, ugly, thick box its moved to a sensuous sleek and thin picture on wall. From grainy black and white pictures to smooth eye popping high definition colour images. And from being called the idiot box to a whole new avatar – the smart TV. Yet, this morphing and radical changes have also made the choices and options bewildering and almost frightening. Your next TV will stay with you for years – lets make sure you buy the perfect one.....

The Three way war

There isn't any other category where three hardware formats co-exist and each is doing well and has redeeming qualities. In fact its helped as prices are supremely low, technology and features are pouring in and the form factor is improving on a continuous basis. But it's on the technology front that things are really hotting up. While your choices till now were restricted to either a Plasma or an LCD, LED TV's are the hot favourite. It's a supremely thin screen, with dazzling brightness, very accurate colour reproduction and really eye popping contrasts. Plus it will also make you feel good as they are fairly economical on power consumption. You may pay a slight premium – but it should be your display of choice right now.

Size matters

Currently, Plasma is King in terms of size to price. Plasma has always led in the size to price ratio game and will continue to do so for some time. While LCD is catching up, it's still prohibitively expensive for consumers to buy very large LCD screens. LED screens are now catching up on plasmas but they still cant give you the best bang for buck. So if you're doing up a super home theatre or have a very large room, Plasma is still a great bang for buck product.

What you see

The final frontier and the reason you buy a Flat panel in the first place – to get a brilliant and vibrant picture. A Plasma panel currently still has an edge on black levels and contrast. LCD's are better with fast moving action and the LED is just brighter and has more vivid colour reproduction. Compare all three playing the same picture by setting them on default and you'll be surprised to see that each can do some amazing things with images.

The Jargon

It should be full 1080P, it should have detailed picture setting menus, it should have most of the features described here and the power consumption should be low. Other things like the refresh rate, viewing angle, wide colour gamut, half life etc should be mostly ignored. Flat panel technology has moved far ahead of these almost pre historic specs.

Be Smart

TV are now interactive, they can do more than just bring pictures into your house. Most TV's today will offer you a internet connection and this makes them very smart. You can have specific apps for your TV, go on to facebook, watch a youtube video and even browse the net. While the killer app for TV is still awaited – its good to be future ready with a net enabled TV.

Eye Candy

This matters big time and don't be fooled by those that say thin beyond a point is irrelevant. With the all new thin wall mounts, a razor sharp flat panel looks beyond stunning on your wall. Also, the all chrome and steel look is great but it seems there's still too much of a premium associated there. Also the remote should be easy to use and fit well in your hand.

The 3D mystery

Let me make this simple. If you like the way 3D on TV works, by all means buy it. Its a good feature and with the right 3D content – it looks fabulous. And 3D now has no premium attached as its more a feature than a selling point today. Buy the TV you like, with the specs that you think are good and the picture that you fell is stunning. Then look at what kind of 3D it has. TV's that can do 3D without the need for active shutter glasses will give you a better experience.

The ins and outs

Connections, inputs and output are critical. As many HDMI inputs, at least 1 component, one legacy old style AV, a few of these on the side, audio needs all the digital outs that they can cram in case you want to connect to a Home Theatre. The good part – by default almost every manufacturer now throws in great amounts of these – far more than you can really use.

Now hear this

If its thin – it isn't going to sound good. Yes, Televisions still have pretty average sound. Good enough for normal TV, even okay for a DVD player but absolutely inadequate if you're planning to go all HD with a BluRay or a nice gaming console. Rule of thumb – if you're setting this in your bedroom then buy a good sound bar and if this is in a dedicated TV watching room then buy the most kick ass home theatre rig you can afford.

Final call

Ask the salesman to take contrast ratio and brightness to half (you'll find most stores crank it up to 100) and then play around with it from there, ask them to change the source from those lovely customised slow moving brilliant colour images to DTH and then sit back and watch. Carry a favourite DVD or BluRay disk with you and evaluate that there. Take your time, look around, check as many as you can, ask all the right questions and don't be intimidated by somebody trying to hurry your buying decision.
Its almost unbelievable to see the kind of TV's that are now available. Price points are incredibly low and performance is light years ahead. Make your choice, upgrade your TV and your life.