For most of us, stepping into the world of HD or High Definition (as oppose to the lower SD or Standard Definition world) begins with the HD TV, either a Plasma TV or LCD TV. But just having a HDTV may not move you completely into the world of HD, it is just the first step and part of a chain. To immerse yourself completely into the HD world, you must have the source material feeding your HDTV in HD as well and the link from the source to the TV must support HD too. To simplify matters, I will start with the HDTV as the heart of the HD world.
When does a TV becomes a HDTV? As long as the resolution is 1280x720 pixels or more and currently the limit is 1920x1080 pixels for commercially available TV. To add some confusion, TV companies advertise some of their TV's as HD-ready and some as Full-HD. In most (if not) all cases, HD-ready TV has a resolution of 1366x768 pixels while the Full-HD TV has the maximum resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. So if you are getting a HD-ready TV, it is already a HDTV by definition, even though not a Full-HD TV.
Which one to go for, a HD-Ready TV or a Full-HD TV? If money is not an issue, go for a Full-HD TV. However, if you are going for a 32" or less, the HD-ready TV is good enough since at the proper viewing distance, you cannot really see the difference. (Actually, at short viewing distance, the HD-Ready TV may look better than a Full-HD TV for some materials!) In the past, a Full-HD TV costs significantly more than a HD-Ready TV but the price gap is now narrowing and soon they may not make HD-Ready TV any more except for screen smaller than 32". So buyers need not have to make a choice in future. Currently for some brands (like Toshiba), they have only HD-Ready TV at 32" and not FUll-HD TV so if you like that brand, you have no choice but as mentioned earlier, eventually there will be only Full-HD TV. Until then, the choice is yours, bearing in mind the size of the screen that you are after - for anything 40" and above, go for Full-HD.
Which brand to choose? Any brand will do, I would say, within the same price range. As long as it is from one of the reputable brands, they are more or less the same within the same price range. Performance should be very similar and to most comsumers they will look similar despite all the enticing claims. Of course, the higher price models will have some additional features which you may or may not want. The deciding factor may be the physical look and the input and output ports that are provided. And also your brand loyalty!
As for myself, I chose the Toshiba 32AV700E which is a 32" HD-Ready TV. Since I am using it in my library cum study room, it is good enough as I view it at about 5 feet away. In any case, I do not have the space to go for a bigger set. But if you have the space (and the money) go for the biggest size possible. But make sure you have sufficient and comfortable viewing distance. It is no fun staring at the individual pixels if you are watching the TV too close!
Another question buyer face is whether to go for Plasma or LCD TV. View this in my new blog here. Cheers.