You may see my recommendation for a flat panel TV as a Christmas gift to be a bit prosaic or even uncoventional, but the price of these babies has been reduced so much that they're definitely a viable gift. Though it's the 8th day of Christmas, don't feel you have to give eight of them.
On my modest scale, they're in the Wow! category, but there are models available at less than $200.00 regularly. Some stores or even offering bonus gift cards for buying and online retailers can be found that give free shipping and deep discounts. Even the big ones are half what they were a year ago I think.
When my husband started making noises a couple of years ago about wanting a big TV, I just rolled my eyes and went along with his wishes. No big deal. However, once I saw some programs on the LCD flat panel, I was quickly won over.
The clarity and resolution is amazing. Even a smaller 19" like the one we got for my daughter's bedroom is remarkable. It makes television viewing enjoyable again, and watching movies on a TV like this is better than the cinema experience which now comes with idiots with cell phones surgically attached to their ears. Or so it seems.
How To Choose
If you want to get a big TV, then measure first so you know you get the right size TV for the size room in which it will be viewed.
Every HDTV has an optimal viewing distance that's determined by the screen size. Get your tape measure and a calculator.
Check the printed info for the TV you think you want. It shows the diagonal screen size or the width is often given for flat panel HDTVs. If you go to a store to shop, take your tape measure with you and measure it yourself.
Formula is: diagonal screen size multiplied by 2 and also by 3. The result is a distance range that works.
For instance, if you want a 40 inch TV, it's 40 x 2 = 80" and 40 x 3 = 120 inches. That's a range of about 6 and 1/2 feet to 10 feet, and that's the area from the TV where your seating should be arranged. Luckily, that's within the scope of most rooms.
Television has come a long way since the black and white behemoths of your grandparents' youth. You'll be surprised how enjoyable watching one of the new HDTVs can be.