Plasma TV
Reporter: David Richardson

Once upon a time television was a luxury item. Nowadays, you'd be hard pressed to find an Australian home without one. In fact, 1 in 7 Australian households now own a LCD big screen TV. 1 in 13 watches Plasma.

Already this year, we've spent more than $1.2-billion on LCD and Plasma TV's.

Even in tough times, people want to escape and they want the latest technology.

"There was this great debate and various people would extol the virtues of either LCD or Plasma but now I think for the first time we've been testing them, we found in terms of price and performance there is really nothing between LCD and plasma" says Christopher Zinn from Choice Magazine.

Choice Magazine scientifically tested the major televisions on the market, looking for the best combination of features and price.

"Plasma's tend to use much more electricity. As TV's have grown in size and complexity so their power consumption has gone through the roof and a large plasma can use as much electricity as a medium sized fridge" says Christopher.

"The general consensus is the plasma is better for sport and for movies but plasmas don't work as well in bright light as LCD's. So if you're watching alot of TV in the daylight, you're home during the day, LCD's might be a better option" says Andrew Kliem from the Good Gear Guide. He road tested a host of TV's, comparing size and price to features. He still favours plasmas.

"The best value lies in the $2,500 - $3000 range. You're looking at spending 26, 27, 28-hundred. That will probably get you a good 46 inch full high definition TV."

Andrew ran DVD's, games, even his laptop computer through all the televisions to come up with his favourites in four budget categories.

In the $1,000 to $2,000 category, he likes the Samsung LA37A450 for $1649 or the slightly more expensive Panasonic Viera.

If you have more than $2,000 to spend, Andrew favours the Viera again at $2899.

Under $4,000, he recommends the Sony Bravia and if you want a mega set, anything over $4,000, it's Pioneer for almost $10,000.

"The major downside is when pixels go and it's not covered by the warranty and it really downgrades your viewing pleasure as it were because those things are very hard if not impossible to fix" says Christopher.

An average plasma or LCD should provide more than 10,000 hours of viewing. At 4-hours a day, your set should last more than 7 and a half years and according to the experts, now's the time to buy.

"The bottom line advice is if you want a new TV, buy one quick because the currency means the price is going to go up very soon" advises Christopher. "I wouldn't wait for Christmas if I needed a TV."

Andrew says "with technology you can constantly wait. There's always something just around the corner and if you wait you're just going to miss out on enjoying something you could have bought a year or two ago."

Almost all major retailers are expecting sales figures to dive as the current financial crisis deepens but cashed-up buyers can still snare a bargain. Stores offering sweeteners to keep sales figures ticking over and new toys to add to those big screen TV's.

"You want to future proof your TV as much as possible. You've going to be using it for 10+ years. You need all the right connections so you can keep pace with all the new innovations they're going to be flogging us in the future" advises Christopher.