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Sharp LC 37HV4U Widescreen Aquos, $6500.
Sharp LC 37HV4U Widescreen Aquos, $6500.
You have 800 digital TV channels, a Media Center PC, and a DVD player, but you're still using 50-year-old display technology? If so, chances are you're ready for something bigger--and maybe sleeker--than the bulky cathode-ray tube that has brought video into your life for so long.

Once-exotic alternatives based on plasma, LCD, and DLP (Digital Light Processing) technology are becoming both more common and more affordable--and in the realm of big, wide-screen TV sets and monitors, they're threatening to push CRT-based designs aside. Economy of size drives these displays' appeal. Large rear-projection CRTs, which once were the only remotely affordable big-screen displays, weigh hundreds of pounds and dwarf most other living-room furniture.

Big-screen alternatives such as plasma panels, direct-view and rear-projection LCD sets, rear-projection DLP displays, and even digital projectors are much more compact; a flat-panel TV can be mounted on a wall like a painting.

Prices for these newer-tech displays are dropping rapidly. You can pay as little as $1000 for a digital projector or as little as $3000 for a 42-inch plasma panel. Nevertheless, the newer display devices generally cost more than their CRT cousins. But David Mentley of display research firm ISuppli/Stanford Resources says that within just a year or two, rear-projection DLP sets may become cheaper than CRTs of comparable size.

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