No. of Recommendations: 3
I've had a standard 27" TV for a while now and am looking to upgrade to a larger TV, possibly widescreen.

My TV use breaks down about as follows:
70% regular TV (DirecTV)
20% DVDs (many widescreen format)
10% Gaming

... 2. Specific brand/model recommendations in the $1000-$1200 price range

cheers!
-progmtl.

---------

progmtl:

This is the Samsung 30" widescreen HDTV compatible mentioned within this thread (going for $950 in Bestbuy, but you can always do a price comparison when you get the serie #):
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1051806314231&skuId=5362314&type=product&cmp=%20%20

Make sure you are aware that 30" widescreen can actually look somewhat 'smaller' than your 4:3 27" tube.

The next popular size for widescreen tube is 34", one of my favs. when shopping around early last year was this serie of Toshiba, but the price (at that time) was dramatically higher around $2,400 since Samsung was the only one with 30" widescreen tube at that time.
This Toshiba has gone down in price to around $1,800 today:
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1060606072639&skuId=5936311&type=product&productCategoryId=cat03002

We ended up with a 42" widescreen projection instead, their Cinema Series from the previous version of this one:
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1051826206626&skuId=5341793&type=product&productCategoryId=cat03006

Paid about the same price early last year (but now you can get 51" instead of 42") and are very happy with this unit.

From my couple months of research before decided to go for the Toshiba: Sony seemed to command $300-500 premium on same size/features, Mitsubishi didn't have that many options then (they do have some very nice units now), while Toshiba and Hitachi are roughly of similar price for comparable units. There is one type of Panasonic (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1051826204783&skuId=5335871&type=product&productCategoryId=cat03006) at a lower price but when compared side-by-side with the Toshiba, the Toshiba blew it away.

One more worthy competition at the same price range is this JVC
(http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1051826204887&skuId=5336228&type=product&productCategoryId=cat03006) that if I'm not mistaken only comes in 56" and 46" instead of the more traditional widescreen sizes of 42" and 51". At that time, the price for our Toshiba 42" are similar with their 46" but again, the pic. of the Toshiba seemed better and the charcoal color of the Toshiba unit matches our decor better than the silver JVC.

Those are basically entry level units for widescreen 42" or higher from the more traditional Japanese brands (IIRC, prices will be lower for GE or RCA) at that time we were shopping around, they are slightly higher than your projected budget of $1,000-1,2000. For the price range, IMHO you'd be better off going for the widescreen 42" rear projection instead of the widescreen 34" tube (around $500 more?) or 4:3 32" tube (around $500 less?) with similar features and comparable brands.

Widescreen 42" just fits in perfectly for our room size, not too big/bulky but quite a decent size for widescreen DVD viewing. You may want to take your room size into serious account before deciding on the size. Another downside with rear projection is finding the matching entertainment center (probably it's easier today than early last year as more and more brands are producing rear projection widescreen). After purchasing the TV, we spent another 3-4 months tracing for a (NOT customized) matching entertainment center/bookcase. If you do go with a rear projection, I'd probably suggest you to keep your 27" tube for gaming (don't know the detailed technicalities but just read/heard that lots of gaming are not good for TV).

And finally, when you have decided on the model, do internet price comparison (again and again and again). Prices actually fluctuated on a weekly basis when I was researching. We bought our unit in a small local chain who was willing to match the lowest price we found from an online vendor (local sales tax vs. online shipping delivery can be offset). Prior to this buying experience, I didn't even know that retailers can match prices (didn't try it at bigger retailers such as Best Buy or Circuit City, though).

Happy shopping!


--H
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