I see so many videoholics mouthing off about HDTV not teaching anyone what really matters that it pisses me off.
Here's some things I've learned now that I've bought my screen.
1) Size does matter. When I got my 50-inch home Maryam said two things: A) "Why did we wait so long?" (Cause you freaking wanted a stove instead of a screen!!!) B) "We should have gotten the 60 inch." (I took back the 50 inch and got the 60 and now the 60 is starting to look small). Lesson, get the biggest screen you can. Even if it's too big for your room.
2) Resolution. The marketing makes it sound like you want 1080p. The problem is nothing supports it yet. My Sony screen is 1080i. My HD-DVD is 1080i. My Xbox 360 is 1080i. The Sony camcorder Microsoft bought me is 1080i. The new Panasonic I'm getting is 1080i. And, when I went to CES I compared 1080i with 1080p and didn't see that much of a difference. Truth is if you buy a $4,000 screen you'll get 1080i today. At the end of the year you'll get 1080p (although Sony raised its prices on its "p" screens). 1080p promises a smoother image on rapidly moving content. But, 1080i is stunning. Absolutely stunning.
3) The DVD player you have matters. My Xbox has a DVD built in. But my HD-DVD is much sharper, even when playing regular old DVDs. Why? It has a better "scalar" built in. Make sure your is a scaling DVD. Go onto the forums and do some homework.
4) Look at the resolution of your screen. Most stores only show low res HD on their screens. It makes all the screens look good, even cheaper ones. But, get them home and only screens that truly support 1080i or 1080p look good. My screen blows away most that my friends have. But in the stores they look about the same. Be careful buying stuff just by what it looks like in the stores. You want one that says it supports at least 1920×1080 native resolution. Like the one I bought.
5) Be prepared to be in debt. My screen? $3,799 at Best Buy. My HD-DVD? $500. My Xbox? $400. Cables and accessories? At least $300. Make sure you price shop even AFTER you buy your screen. I saved $600 by walking into Best Buy 29 days after I bought my screen to check the price.
6) Be prepared to be frustrated over lack of content. Comcast in Seattle area is pretty good — I hear it's a lot worse in most parts of the world. But, you'll find yourself watching the stupidest things simply because they are pretty. Like Discovery Channel's Sunrise Show.
7) Learn about cables. My TV has two HDMI connectors. I needed to get a new cable for my Xbox that supported HDTV (Xbox doesn't yet support HDMI, which makes me wonder if they'll come out with a new version soon that will). I had to get a new cable for my Comcast Cable box (it supports HDMI, which looks a lot nicer than the other kinds of cable I was using previous to getting the HDTV). Also my HD-DVD came with an HDMI cable.
8) Get surround sound and spend some money on your audio equipment. I already had a great surround sound system so didn't need to worry about it. But, lots of my friends don't have surround sound systems and it really makes a difference. Even moreso with a good HD set. I don't know why, but regular TV sounds a LOT nicer on my new TV than on my old one, even though my audio equipment hasn't changed. The audio tuner in the new TV is a LOT better and supports surround sound much better.
What else should people worry about HD?