21" - 29" TVs
Consumer tips for smaller sets 21" - 29"
New TVs in the picture tube size from 21" to 29" are designed for consumers with an eye on space economy. This might be a second TV for a bedroom or to sit in a smaller sized living room. The trend has been to design table-top model picture tube TVs that take up as little space as a clunky CRT will allow. 21" to 29" is the perfect range to consider a flat-panel LCD or plasma TV. Because any plasma TV is more expensive than an equally sized LCD panel, it's impossible for plasma to compete; but if you can afford it, plasma presents another option in digital display technology to consider. There are no gains from plasma over LCD in terms of image quality - both are beautiful and bright digital fixed-pixel display types and can be equally flat and lightweight.
Although the popular tendency these days is to consider TVs in this size range compact or "small," a 27" is fine for most family rooms. In this size range the resolution benefits from an HD-ready monitor will become apparent to your eyes. At one time TVs in this size range were the dominant TV that filled living rooms everywhere. Not so long ago you'd see an intricately designed wooden floor model television that looked like a piece of furniture. These would house a 21" picture tube at best back in the early 80s and suited families for generations. The suitable size for your living room is mostly a matter of comparison and perception. It's a sign of how far we've come now that we consider a 27" TV screen on the small size.
Expect to pay $200-$300 for a non-HD (NTSC) CRT-based TV this size category. These are great prices for a TV that will look incredible for NTSC 480i. Since CRT is a display technology at the top of its game (and nearing the end of its life cycle) manufacturers know how to squeeze beautiful image quality from an analogue TV. However, if you can afford it, HDTV in this size category will definitely stand out and present you with a certain wow factor. But the price jump is considerable from an analogue CRT. You can find a 27" HDTV at less than $1,000. But you'll want to consider how far back you'll watch from the TV before you spring for that eye candy HD monitor. If you're getting a 21" - 29" monitor and it's going to be over 10 feet away from your eyes when you're sitting on the couch, it's unlikely HD will present a noticeable difference. You'll only see the definition when you step forward and really look for it, but for casual viewing there are analogue TVs that will look "HD" to your eyes at a distance.
The reason for this is that our eyes naturally fill in missing details from images. It's a trick video has learned to exploit in human perception and partly why eyewitness accounts are so unreliable; our eyes literally play tricks on us. Take any pixilated crappy-looking image file from a computer and then start walking backwards away from the image. You'll see how much the image improves the further back you go. The reason is partly because you can no longer make out the obvious flaws, so your mind subconsciously fills in a 'nicer' rendition of that picture (this why bars use ambient lighting). So let your flawed perception save your wallet some dough if you're shopping for TVs in the 21" - 29" price category and go with some of the analogue TVs out there. On the other hand, if you're playing video games you're likely to sit closer and an HD will show noticeable benefits, especially when the next generation high-def game consoles become available.