Monday, Nov. 13, 2006

Definitely High-Def

Epson PowerLite Cinema 400: $1,600
For a big home theater, projectors are best. Epson's 720p HD PowerLite connects to cable or satellite boxes, casts a 100-in. image and costs less than most HDTVs.

THE TIME IS RIGHTPrices have never been better for HDTVs, and HD content is ubiquitous. Cable and satellite providers offer HD channels, two new disc formats - Blu-ray and HD DVD - deliver high-def movies (provided you have the right player), and new game consoles from Sony and Microsoft can display games and movies at HD resolution.

Two definitions: HDTV specs can be confusing. Two different screen resolutions are both considered high def. One is 720p-that means an image made of 720 lines, top to bottom. The other, now gaining in popularity, is 1080p. It delivers pictures of - you guessed it - 1,080 lines. The 720p is great when you're sitting back on your couch, 10 ft. away. But if you like TV or gaming up close, you should check out 1080p.

Which one is for me? Flat panels are sweet but still best in smaller living rooms. For 32- to 40-in. sets, check out LCDs from Sharp and Sony; between 42- and 50-in., try a Panasonic plasma. Going bigger? Try a rear-projection set or a digital projector (both shown here). They're much cheaper in dollars per inch of screen.