HDTV Buying Guide 2008

How to Get the Most Out of Your HDTV

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Mounting Options

OmniMount UCL-X mounting arm
Next, consider where and how to mount the television. Should it be on the wall, in an entertainment center or armoire, or on a stand? If you hang it on a wall, don't place it too high. You may be tempted to position it above the fireplace mantel--but if you do, you may get Stargazer's Neck from looking up at it during any prolonged viewing.

TVs are best situated at eye level (and speakers, at ear-level). If you place the television inside a bookcase or armoire, consider adding an articulating mounting arm to the setup so that you can that easily move the television forward and back, to keep it from getting buried deep in the cabinet. Even if you don't plan to pull the TV out from the wall, a mounting arm greatly improves your access to rear inputs and cables when you need it. Mounting hardware varies greatly, so be sure to consider all your options.

Make sure that you have enough shelf space for all your video sources, as well as sufficient power outlets. If you use a stand, anchor the TV set so that it doesn't tip over if your dog bumps into it, or if you live in earthquake country. Check out Dan Tynan's Gadget Freak column "I've Been to the Mountin' Top--Tips for Hanging Your HDTV" for more tips about mounting an HDTV.

Make the Right Connections

Now that you've established a floor plan, it's time to hook up your equipment. To take advantage of your flat panel's 1080p or 720p native resolution, you need true HDTV sources and cable connections. Unfortunately, notwithstanding all the hype around 1080p resolution, few sources today deliver a 1080p picture. Digital HDTV channels from your cable or satellite provider are either 1080i or 720p; no broadcaster yet offers 1080p signals. And though ordinary DVD players may be advertised as 1080p, that designation only means that they can magnify the original 480p signal up to 1080p (or to 720p, depending on your HDTV). And finally, if you use a TiVo or other DVR, you'll be stuck with standard-definition recordings unless you upgrade to an HD model. To obtain true 1080p playback right now, you need a Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD player, an Xbox 360 Elite, or a PC video source.

For more on information on getting the best high-def signals, check out our Hi-Def Video Superguide and our review of Microsoft's Xbox 360 Elite System.

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