I made this guide a while ago on facebook, so that i could refer to it/forward it to friends who ask me about buying/choosing an HDTV, and been updating it for awhile now. I thought that this may be a good place to share it and get feedback!
A Bit on the Timing
New TV models are usually revealed at The Consumer Electronics Show in January then trickle out to stores By February/March/April. A good time to buy is Black Friday and that weekend, along with Cyber Monday (and no i don't mean door buster items). By the time black Friday rolls around all the review sites should have done their reviews on the current years models which makes it easier to choose a "good" one. and obviously they run good sales
Another good time is around the Super Bowl and after The Super Bowl. They usually try to push out the old models around Super Bowl time to make room for the new models. This is a good time to buy because there is a lot of sales on the previous year’s models. Although i feel like BlackFriday/Weekend/Cyber Monday has better sales/prices than at this time.
The new generation of TVs should, in theory, be better in some way from the previous models. Sometimes even in price because of newer manufacturing techniques. So if you care about saving money and don't NEED a new TV right now, wait till the times suggested.
Now figure out what kind of hdtv you want
a good article in general but if you want to know what Dr. Raymond Soneira says about it skip to the last part called "Maybe Sharp Should've Consulted Mr. Spock Instead"
or long story short , mostly marketing hype, not so much better quality TVs
Ok, now you know which kind you want (plasma or LCD, 3d etc..), so now its time to pick a specific model.
These next links from consumersearch.com are about specific models for LCD and Plasma and also a nice introduction summarizing the pros/cons of each technology. It summarizes a ton of TV reviewing sites into one article essentially doing all the research and homework for you when it comes to picking out a specific model. It also has links to all the sites it used for the article. It’s a really good site.
AV Science Forums
High Def Junkies Forums
Display Myths Shattered: How Monitor & HDTV Companies Cook Their Specs
23 Tips for Buying the Best HDTV (reading this post should be tip 24)
OK, you picked a model finally? now:
now find the cheapest price using the internet, usually a pretty simple process. type in the TV brand and model into Google and hit the shopping search engine. If your lucky you can find a place that will haggle a bit on the price. I did this exact thing. Black Friday weekend, the cheapest price I could find for the model I wanted was at Store X and Store Y happen to sell the same model so I showed them the Store X's 799.99 sale price on my phone, and said if you give it to me for 750 I will buy it right now. Guy went and talked to his manager or something and we made a deal. I should’ve said $700…… Alternatively, instead of getting some money off the TV i could of got an extended warranty added on for "free". But remember, sometimes the stores will charge a "restocking fee" or not let you return it all.
moving on, you might as well learn about extended warranties
You most likely need some new hdmi cables with your new TV
Long story Short, buy the cheap ones. www.monoprice.com has good quality/low price hdmi cables. that is where i get all mine.
Maybe you heard all this talk about "calibrating your HDTV to make it looks its best?" Most HDTVs look "perfectly fine" without any sort of professional or DIY calibration. But, the more you read sites like: http://www.avsforum.com/ you come to realize that there might be something to this whole calibration thing. If you want to crank up the quality just a little bit more, it's much easier than you think.
Sound and Vision's full guide is easy to follow and worth a read. Of course you can hire a professional to do it too.
The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice you give to others