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Don't make these 5 HDTV mistakes

Kevin C. Tofel

Yeah, I should be watching "Bones" like I said I would in my daily HDTV picks; but you know us, we just can't get enough of this stuff! I just had to share this list of five "mistakes" that ABC has summed up nicely. We've presented all of these here at some time or another, but in light of some comments from our "Truth in HDTV Advertising" post, I get the feeling there's some confusion out there. Here's the list from ABC, along with our thoughts and explanations. What you would add?

1. Bigger is better. Well that all depends on how far you'll be sitting from your set. The general rule of thumb I use is that the optimal viewing distance is 1.5 to 2 times the diagonal measurement of a set. Example: For a 60-inch screen, that comes out to 7.5- to 10-feet as optimal. Don't forget that if two screens display the same native resolution, they have the same number of pixels; the bigger the screen in that case, the bigger the pixels.

2. Flatter is better. This is completely dependent on your room. I opted for chunky CRT sets for my house, because at the time, they were the only displays capable of native 1080i. My rooms can also support a set that's 25-inches deep. If your room can't give up that much floor space then a PDP or LCD is likely the ticket. Be sure to check out the slimmer CRTs now hitting the shelves and don't forget that thin SED sets are due out next year.

3. Ignore the source. It's a must to determine where your video source will come from and what resolution that source will be. There are plenty of choices for your high-def signal: cable, satellite ore even free over-the-air signals. Check which types of inputs your set has and what it will need based on the source your choose.

4. If it's digital, it's HDTV. No, no, NO! Digital TV or DTV has 18 different sub-sets of specifications including SDTV, EDTV and HDTV. HDTV is 720p or better. Oh and for all of the folks commenting on me calling out Best Buy on the HDTV that isn't an HDTV, ABC seems to agree with me: "If a display can’t support at least 720 pixels (vertical) by 1280 pixels (horizontal), it’s not true HDTV."

5. Why touch the controls? Dudes and dudettes: you must calibrate the set or at least check important settings like: brightness, contrast, tint, color and sharpness. You can pay someone to calibrate the set or you can spend a few bucks more for a calibration DVD. We've often referred folks to our free and easy method as well.

So did ABC hit all of the major mistakes? Can you share any HDTV mistakes with the readers so they don't repeat them?

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