Size, looks and mode – which plasma or LCD TV is the one for you?

We reckon the best thing about HDTV is that it allows you not just greater sharpness. Not just more detail. But a much larger size of screen. Have you been in store watching a DVD or standard definition TV (SDTV) demonstrated on a 127 cm (50 inch) plasma? If you are up close, the picture looks soft and fuzzy. Watch that for a couple of hours at home and the picture can actually start to tire out your eyes as they struggle to achieve a sharper focus that is simply impossible.

But high definition gives you five times the detail: nearly twice as much vertically, and more than twice as much horizontally as standard definition picture. You can increase the size of your screen to 254 cm with HDTV and retain the same sharpness as SDTV on a 127 cm screen. Yes, two-and-a-half metres! And still the picture looks sharp.

Or your living arrangements might be cosy, so that you have to sit only a short distance from your screen. It that case, a full HD picture makes the arrangement viable.

You can’t yet get a picture that big with an LCD or plasma TV. But you can with a front projector. There is a wide range of these – wide in performance and even wider in cost. Several full high definition projectors are now available for under $5,000. But these have their difficulties – primarily, the deep darkness into which you must plunge your room for decent picture quality.

For any size of panel TV, from 82 cm (32 inches) and up, we recommend that you stretch for full high definition. The bigger the size compared to that, the more important that you receive all 1920 x 1080 of the broadcast pixels. With that resolution – especially on a large screen – and a HDTV receiver, you will be able to see the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in truly stunning detail and clarity.