The least expensive type of large TV is a rear-projection LCD TV. Some projection TVs have three cathode-ray picture tubes (CRTs), which are like smaller versions of the tubes used in conventional sets. The images from those small tubes are projected onto the back of a 40 inch to 60 inch plus screen, giving them the name rear projection TV. Other rear projection TV sets use LCD, digital light processing (DLP), or liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) technology in place of CRTs. These high tech rear projection TV sets are thinner, lighter, and as a result more expensive than comparable CRT-based sets – but they produce a higher-quality picture.
Major brands of rear projection LCD TV sets include Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Philips, RCA, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba. The most popular models are HD capable, and there are three basic types of HD TVs.
So how do you choose the right rear projection LCD TV for you and your viewing needs?
First, consider the space you have available before you worry about the screen size itself. Most rear projection LCD TVs have screens measuring from 42 to well over 60 inches. You might be tempted to purchase one of the biggest screens, which can span as much as 70 inches or more, but first determine how much floor space you can spare, and plan to view the TV from around 7 to 10 feet away for optimal picture quality.
Also consider depth and price. Once you know how much room you have, decide whether size or price is more important. CRT-based sets are floor-standing models with deep cabinets mounted on casters. Some take up as much space as an armchair or loveseat. Many rear projection LCD TV sets are tabletop units, or you can buy a separate stand for a few hundred dollars.
Then focus on picture quality. The best rear projection LCD TV sets deliver very good picture quality with HD content and good picture quality for DVDs and regular TV programming. Rear projection LCD TV screens provide much better picture quality than CRT models.
Also check the viewing angle. Some rear projection LCD TV sets display a better image from off-center than older sets did, which is important if your TV will be watched by several people at the same time. Before buying a particular model, see how the picture looks if you step off to the side or move up and down. With some rear projection LCD TV sets you'll see a dimmer, washed-out image as your viewing position angles away.
Once you’ve made your choice, it pays to think about whether you want an extended warranty on your rear projection LCD TV. While extended warranties may not be worth it for most products, they may be for high-priced TVs. Because rear projection LCD TV sets are expensive, check into the cost of a service plan. Find out whether in-home service is covered and whether a replacement is provided if your rear projection LCD TV can't be repaired.