Trying to buy a new TV can be a difficult process. You will be confronted with a variety of TV offers, numbers, statics, specifications, and other details of TV design which can seem confusing and weird. Let's try to make some sense of the different features and measurements which you will see associated with new TVs.
First of all, let's look at the different technologies available. The main types of flat screen TVs are plasma and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). There are also projectors, although these are much less common and have different factors to consider. They can be an effective way to create a very large viewing area though - they can go much larger than your typical 60" flat screen TV. Plasma TVs generally have a better picture than an LCD TC offers, and are better for a controlled home theatre environment. However, plasmas also have very bad glare issues, and aren't suitable for environments where the lighting can't be controlled.For the typical front room which has several windows, you may be better off going with an LCD TV. They don't look bad, and don't have the glare issues that plasmas have.
Next, let's tackle resolution. HD starts at 720p, although most HDTVs are 1080p. Resolution is essentially a measure of the size of the picture, and not necessarily the quality. In this case, the numbers reflect the number of vertical lines of resolution - or the number of pixels up and down the screen. A well-produced 1080p movie can look great; however Blu-ray disks are currently the only 1080p media offered. Streaming High-Definition TV is only 720p. While 1080p is better, it isn't completely necessary. The "p" after the number stands for "progressive," and is the opposite of "i," for "interlaced." Progressive refreshes the entire scree each frame (usually 24 times a second), while interlaced only refreshes half of the screen each time, effectively halving your resolution.You want to get a "p" television.
The actual picture quality is affected by a number of factors which can be hard to see. You should check out the stats offered by a TV for contrast, brightness, and colour accuracy. Ultimately, these things can be very hard to judge for yourself, and you will probably want to look at professional reviews. Professional reviewers use very precise instruments to measure these things, and have very trained eves to spot extremely subtle differences.
The absolute most important thing about a TV is that it looks good to you. Although it is nice to have a high contrast ration or accurate colour reproduction, it won't matter that much to you if you can't tell a difference. In addition to reading professional reviews, you should go into stores and look at the televisions, just to see which ones you like most.