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So I wound up getting the Hitachi 42HDS69 (42" plasma) which isn't getting delivered until Saturday. I'm not going to have a fancy set up by any stretch of the imagination, but am just looking to get as much satisfaction as possible with what I have to work with at this time.


Well, you've got a damn good start. That's a fine TV. More at . Bonanza, Glenn. You made a good choice.

I will not be hooking up a receiver or any speakers to the TV at this time, so I will only be using the speakers that come on the TV.

Okay as it goes. You'll have good center sound and that counts for a lot. Later, when you can free the bucks go for surround. It does make a considerable difference. Nonetheless, using the set's speakers will give you good enough sound in stereo.

I will be getting an HD DVR box from Cablevision that includes an HDMI input, and my TV has 3 HDMI slots. First, should I really go with HDMI with such a basic set up that I have? Not sure if it's worth it at this point.

Actually, yes. The cost of a HDMI cable gets you a clearer signal to the set. Far better than composite or S-Video. The set and the HD DVR box can also be connected by composite cabling. There's a toss off as to which is better however composite cabling is a mite cheaper than HDMI (about $75 to about $125) so it's your call. In all truth, the difference between the two is such that few can tell the difference. The advantage of HDMI cabling is that it carries video and sound and is then one less cable.

Also, do I need to go with Monster cables, or will other brands do the trick for my situation?

Go to Radio Shack and get their top line. Their best cable is their branded line of a major cable supplier for which, elsewhere, you pay more. If you have to feel you must have Monster, go for their midrange cable – but, if you do, you'll be buying what you could at Radio Shack at a lesser cost.

I saw a surge protector/home theater power center at Costco for only $39.99 that looked similar to one of the Monster power centers I saw. Is there anything specifically I should be looking for when shopping for this?

Two things about surge protectors: clamping voltage in case of sudden high voltage surge and, if it has it, power smoothing. Not to go on a rant here but the power that comes out the wall is cruddy: a 60 Hz stream buggered up by every appliance on the circuit you have in your house and other houses coming off the same pole pig. Any, repeat, any power center that smoothes power is good. If your budget allows, get a Monster unit that has smoothing capabilities such as . This is expensive yet, next to having a good amp, my view is that power cleaning is that important. I have not seen an installation that hasn't been improved considerably by power management.

In addition, I have a DVD player that's more than 6 years old, though it is in excellent condition. Does it make sense to switch to a DVD player with progressive scan?

Not really. Your DVD player is sending out a 480 scan and depending on a lot of other factors it will give you what it can. If you don't spend on an amp that upscales to your new TV's native resolution then buying a DVD that does makes sense. Up to you but I'd spend on a DVD that upscales (and, boy, are they cheap these days).

I'm assuming at some point I will look to buy surround sound, but not right away. Just trying to find ways to maximize my initial investment with not breaking the bank on extras right away.

Here's the skinny on surround sound: if you have a normal sized room you don't need what is needed in a large room (seating 200). Good surround sound with near field speakers and a good amp not breaking the budget and capable for a seating on a standard sofa is what you want. Don't get bamboozled by claims of high wattage. If the amp and speaker match at a reasonable 70 watts then you're ahead.

What is surprising is that relatively inexpensive speakers – if they are matched to the amp – can give you Knock Your Socks Off sound. The secret is in buying speakers that are tonally matched and rather than experimenting with this maker or that buy a package set. You can get one for about $1,000. That's a good investment in sound.

My view. You're getting a good TV. You'll like it muchly. Next, get a good speaker set and an amp that does 5.1 so you have surround.

You'll like it.


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