13" - 20" TVs
Consumer tips for the smallest TVs
When looking for a new TV regardless of all the new and confusing display technologies, it still comes down to the price range and size you can afford. If you're interested in a new HDTV but don't want anything over 27", you probably won't need an HDTV at all. Any digital or even an analogue TV should serve you well. For sizes above 32", an HDTV resolution like 1080i or 720P will show you eye-popping results.
Getting into the 40" to 50" range and above, you're likely looking for one of the rear-projection options available or, if you're prepared to bite the bullet and pay the premium for plasma, there you'll find a bright flat-screen display that will fit your needs.
Front projectors are a different kind of TV, literally projectors that display bright high-resolution images onto a screen. Since a projector can projects its images, it varies in screen size based on how far back it's placed. Proportionate to the screen size will be some loss of brightness, but most projectors have a sweet spot that consists of a small range of sizes that can be much higher than any 50" rear projection TV.13" - 20" picture size:
Expect to pay from $100 - $500
This size range is dominated by low-cost conventional CRT TVs. For even a high-quality CRT-based display you can expect to pay no more than $200 for a 20" TV by a popular brand name like Samsung. Many lesser-known brands will be priced closer to $100. The difference is in the quality of parts and how long you can expect it to last. A nicer picture tube, even at 20", can look significantly better than its cheaper counterpart. Don't confuse a "flat tube" with a flat-screen display. Flat picture tubes are CRTs whose viewing area is made to be flat instead of convex, to present a slightly larger viewing area.
The pricey options that get you up to around $500 are LCD displays. An LCD TV is a digital display and as such will either be rated HD-Ready, fully HD or DTV. Honestly, the differences between an HD and a standard definition TV in this size range is minuscule, and you'd be hard pressed to notice much difference. It takes a wider viewing area to really notice the details you're missing on fewer lines of resolution. With 720 progressive lines of resolution vs 480 presented in a 20" viewing area, there isn't going to be a significantly enhanced viewing experience. The real attraction to an LCD display at this price range is the flat-screen feature. This means that the TV itself is only a few inches wide at its thickest point. LCD and plasma are the two display technologies that can provide TVs that are perfectly flat. These are the TVs you hear about people hanging from their wall - although most wisely put their LCD or plasma displays on a cabinet or shelf where it will be more secure.
Another good feature with TVs in this size range that are also flat-screen TVs is the ability to double as a computer monitor. Since these are not pure television sets, they're priced a little higher than even $500, our limit in this particular section. But several manufacturers who make both TVs and computer monitors (like Samsung) have made display devices that are both. Look for a flat-panel LCD monitor with both TV and PC inputs. The trouble is that it might make a fine TV even if it's not capable of HDTV resolutions. But it isn't likely to be a very good monitor, limiting you to only low resolutions or limiting the total number of resolutions it's capable of. You'll end up paying for a jack of all trades that, as the old saying goes, is master of none. If you added up the cost for a budget computer monitor and a pure TV in this price range, you'd probably come out ahead a buying separate device for each job.