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Top 5 Things to Do

Successfully upgrading your home-entertainment system with an HDTV may not be as simple as buying the latest model and plugging it in, but it doesn’t require a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, either. Here are the top things to keep in mind during your first 30 days of your HD life.

1. Research your options.

Succeeding with HDTV requires understanding some intimidating jargon. Don’t make any split-second buying decisions before you understand what “high-definition” really means and the differences between standard-definition television (SDTV), digital television (DTV) and high-definition television (HDTV) sources and systems, as well as 720p, 1080i and 1080p HD formats. Next, read up on rear-projection, front-projection and flat-panel HDTVs and the respective technologies behind them. Weigh the pros and cons of each kind of TV and decide which best suits your needs and your budget.

2. Find an HD source.

Many first-time HDTV buyers think their new set will render any video source in high-definition. It won’t. Without an HD source, your HDTV is nothing more than an overpriced, big-screen SDTV. HDTV signals can be received over-the-air, through a cable or internet provider, or via satellite. Contact your local provider or satellite company and decide if the price is right.

3. Calibrate your set.

In order to get the best picture possible, you’ll have to calibrate your HDTV. An ISF-licensed agent will calibrate your HDTV for a few hundred dollars. If you’d rather save the cash, try less expensive calibration hardware or follow a guide.

4. Safeguard your HDTV.

Plug your home-entertainment system into a power conditioner to stabilize voltage, eliminate “hum” from your audio speakers and protect your HDTV from electrical surges. If a power conditioner seems too elaborate, at least purchase a surge protector just in case.

5. Get others involved.

Setting up an HDTV or adding accessories doesn’t have to be done alone. Even if you’re hiring an installation team, you can invite friends or neighbors over to join in the process. When things are set up, turn it on and share that initial HD experience. Take advantage of your friends and let them reap the rewards as well…or be greedy and hog the whole experience.

Posted: 1/31/08