HDTV Buying Guide

Get behind the tech to find the HDTV that's right for you.

The first high-definition television (HDTV) broadcasts in the United States occurred more than a dozen years ago, and while it has taken some time, the HDTV market has matured. In fact, you’ll have a hard time finding a television bigger than 20 inches that is not a hi-def set, and today's models cover a broad spectrum of sizes, features, and prices. The result is that shopping for an HDTV can be challenging.

This flat-screen HDTV buying guide will help you find a model that meets your needs and budget. In the first section, you’ll find descriptions of seven typical HDTV users and selection criteria that will be important to them. Find the description that best matches your needs and you’re off and running!

The rest of the guide describes the features, technologies, and specifications that differentiate HDTVs. You’ll find discussions of screen size, display technology, video and audio connections, Internet streaming, and more—all the information you need to choose the right HDTV for you. And if you want further advice, check out the Shopping Guides in our Television Research Center.

HDTV Digital Television User Types

What kind of user are you?

To narrow your shopping criteria, we’ll describe seven typical HDTV users and list the features that are important to each type.

See HDTV Television User Types

HDTV Television Dimensions

Dimensional Considerations

Next to fitting your budget, the most important feature for an LCD or LED flat screen HDTV is size. But bigger isn't always better. Consider these factors.

See HDTV  Dimensional Considerations

Display Technology

After you've decided on the size of HDTV you need, you'll want to decide whether you want a plasma or LCD flat screen. Learn about the differences here.

See Display Technology


Stereoscopic 3D is the hot new thing in movies. Now the same 3D effects are available on HDTVs. Learn about 3D HDTVs here.

See 3D HDTV technology

HDTV features and connections

Features and Connections

When it comes to HDTV features and connections, in general, the more options, the better. Here are some details to consider.

See HDTV Features and Connections

High Definition TV Specifications

HDTV Specifications

When shopping for consumer electronics, it’s easy to be swayed by specifications. Here are some key numbers that you’re likely to encounter, and what to make of them.

See HDTV Specifications