Big Screens for Less (aired 5/8/04)

Big-screen plasma TVs have been getting a lot of press recently. But rear projection sets are outselling plasmas by about eight to one. While projection sets aren't cheap, with prices starting at 1,000 dollars, plasma TVs can cost more than 10 times that much, making projections sets a relative bargain. Consumer Reports just tested more than a dozen and has what you need to know.

The Henneberry (PRON: HEN-uh-ber-ee) family recently bought a new projection television for the family room. It was a big change from the small TV they used to have.

"We had a 20-inch set. I got it at Sears when I graduated from college. We had been watching that for years and we decided to upgrade to a big screen."

Consumer Reports recently tested 14 projection televisions ranging in price from 17-hundred dollars to
27-hundred. Testers found that in addition to their big screens, most of these TVs offer excellent sound.

But when it came to picture quality, Consumer Reports testers saw big differences. While some TVs had a very good picture, others rated only fair.

"You weren't "wowed" by the picture. It left you wanting more. You're looking at big screens so you want that detail, you want to see that color."

A drawback with projection sets — burn-in. An image can leave a permanent shadow on the screen if it's up for too long — like a ticker that runs along the bottom.

And projection TVs aren't small. These sets take up about eight square feet of floor space.

"You also have to be able to sit at least eight to nine feet away from these screens to get the full effect of the video."

But if you want a big screen, projections sets do offer the most bang for your buck. Consumer Reports recommends the two-thousand dollar Toshiba TheaterWide. It's HD ready and has very good picture quality.

Consumer Reports says if you want a projection TV but just don't have the space for a huge television — consider a microdisplay set. These sets cost a little more. They combine projection technology with flat screens — so you can have a big screen that takes up much less space.

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