We all know the situation, there's a series of impossibly large numbers on the spec card, the quality of the lighting is questionable, and a salesman who may or may not know anything about televisions is droning on about the death of plasma. Still, you want a new HDTV, and this is where the televisions are. What Sean wants to know is, how do you figure out the right set for you in a retail setting?

"Can anyone recommend video test files used to check the capabilities of HDTVs? It would be great to walk into an electronics store with a USB stick loaded full of video files to test color, contrast, motion etc. and see which performs best. Has anyone ever had success bringing in some of their own equipment to test with the televisions in-store? When I'm checking out different televisions, what differences should I be looking at to pick the right one?"

We've gotten a few handy anecdotes on how to evaluate televisions in even the worst store conditions, and we've seen enough specs to know they're never to be trusted without an independent evaluation, but as an informed buyer, what are you doing to tip the scales towards your specific interests, and not just what pads the stores sales or salesman's commission?

Got a burning question that you'd love to toss out for Engadget HD (or its readers) to take a look at? Tired of Google's blank stares when you ask for real-world experiences? Hit us up at ask at engadgethd dawt com and keep an eye on this space -- your inquiry could be next.



'Round these parts, we expect most everywhere to own, or at least be familiar with, an HDTV. Still, there's a first time for everyone, and for folks just now looking to hop on in and see what this whole "high-definition" thing is all about, ExtremeTech's Joel Durham Jr. has a quick 'n dirty guide of things to do before tossing a set in your vehicle. Granted, a few of the tips seem glaringly obvious, but really, buying a new (or first, in particular) HDTV isn't always a simple process. What's your size requirement? What's your budget? What technology do you prefer? Do you have the wiring scheme all planned out? Can you afford to pull another all-nighter? If you've been wondering where to start when thinking of bringing a new set into your crib, you should definitely give the read link a look -- at worse, you can say you're a seasoned veteran for already knowing the dos and don'ts.

[Image courtesy of Radioru, thanks Jeremy]