Maybe your den is already filled with the Big Screen, and now you want something less gargantuan for crystal-clear viewing in your bedroom. We have the hardware for you.
For less than $1,000, you can own a 32- or 37-inch LCD high-definition TV to fill the video void. Note: None of our four picks offers 1080p (also called full HD) resolution. But with their smaller screen sizes, you won't notice the difference.
Samsung LN-T3253H (suggested retail price: $1,300).
This stylish 32-inch TV is a bit pricier than other HD sets its size, but its excellent contrast, brightness and color do justice to high-def imagery. Plus, the frame's glossy black finish and rounded edges give the Samsung an elegant air, and the swivel base is convenient for turning the screen from bed to treadmill.
A USB port on the side lets you easily connect a digital camera (or an iPod or other music player) for viewing photos on the TV. And the set's three HDMI ports two in back and one located conveniently on the side are handy for hooking up equipment. You can find the Samsung LN-T3253H at big-box discounters and online stores for $800 to $900 (what we call the street price).
Sharp Aquos LC-32D43U (suggested retail price: $1,100.)
The LC-32D43U is a very good 32-inch HDTV that costs about $100 less than the Samsung model. Its brilliant, crisp picture is as good as the Samsung's. Its slim shape and thin black frame are attractive (although it's not as pretty as the Samsung). We have only a few quibbles: The Aquos lacks a swivel base and a USB port and includes only two HDMI ports. Street price: $700 to $800.
Toshiba Regza 37HL67 (suggested retail price: $1,200).
If a 32-inch screen is too small but your budget is capped at $1,000, the Regza is a solid pick. This 37-inch HDTV has a good picture overall, although we found its image quality, including contrast and color, to be a slight step down from that of the Samsung and Sharp models. The Regza's boxy black frame lacks panache, but it will blend with any decor. It lacks a USB connector, and all three HDMI ports are in back. Street price: as low as $900 to $1,000.
Vizio VX37L (suggested retail price: $800).Upstart Vizio has built a thriving business by selling quality HD sets for a lot less than the big guys. The VX37L follows this formula perfectly. Picture quality is pretty good, but it lacks the crispness and vibrant colors of the top-of-the-line screens. The Vizio's design is merely OK, and its two HDMI inputs are located in back. Street price: $750 to $800.
Jeff Bertolucci is a freelance writer for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to [email protected].