Q: I would like your advice on the purchase of my first LCD TV. I have researched this but the more I read, the more confused I become! What model(s) would you recommend in the 26-32″ range that are reliable, have a sharp picture, and are also capable of playing CD’s? Does that even exist? I would like to spend less than $1000, if that’s possible.
A: Karen, I don’t test displays anymore, and even if I did, it would be impossible to stay current with the 800 to 900 new models that come out every year. As a result, I don’t make recommendations about specific products.
I believe that most — if not all — of the models with built-in DVD players will also play audio CDs, but recognize that for the most part, the speakers that come with a small LCD TV are dreadful. The average $20 set of self-powered computer speakers will sound better (and a cheap set with a sub-woofer will sound even better than that). You can use a set of computer speakers with one of these LCD TVs, however; just plug them into the sound output or headphone jack.
Also keep in mind that a 26″ to 32″ high definition LCD TV is relatively small. The height of the image of a 26″ model is probably about the same as a standard definition 23″ CRT. That’s very small compared to what most people watch. Furthermore, the higher resolution means that you have to sit much closer than you might think in order to see the extra detail. For screens this size, you probably should sit no more than four feet from the screen, which would make it cozy for two people to share.
Having said all this, you should be able to find a model that meets your needs and budget. A look at the data in my Intelligence Report weekly ad price database, I find that last month Best Buy advertised a 32″ Westinghouse LTV-32W4 model for $800. This has a DVD player as well as a digital tuner so you can get digital and HD broadcasts for free over the air.