Should You Buy a Digital TV?

Yes, HDTV is still coming, and it'll likely make your TV obsolete by 2006. If you're in the market for a new set now, here are your choices.

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HIGH-DEF FOR DUMMIES You can dip your toe into the HDTV pool with Samsung’s 15-inch LTM 1575W LCD monitor ($2,000). When you’re ready to dive in, you just add the HDTV tuner.

ANALOG TV

Resolution: 480 interlaced lines, meaning half the screen is refreshed at a time

Pros: Can’t beat the price. In the future, you’ll get analog versions of HDTV with a decoder

Cons: As soon as one of your friends goes digital, you’ll notice how lame your picture is

You’ll pay around: $1,200 for a 32-inch monitor

DIGITAL TV

Resolution: 480 progressive-scan lines, which allows the entire screen to be refreshed at once

Pros: Much better resolution than an analog TV, half the price of an HDTV

Cons: As with analog, you get black bars onscreen; it’s not true HDTV

You’ll pay around: $2,000 for a 32-inch monitor

HIGH-DEFINITION TV

Resolution: 720 progressive-scan or 1,080 interlaced lines

Pros: The best picture (a lot of) money can buy. Tip: If you can’t afford an HDTV yet, consider an HDTV-ready monitor — you can add the tuner later

Cons: Bring a credit card or two You’ll pay around: $4,000 for a 34-inch HDTV

WHAT’S PLAYING IN PIXELS

There’s more HDTV programming than you think: Two-thirds of the nation’s 1,200 stations will be serving up digital fare by the end of the year. A sampling:

ABC
Alias, The Practice, Drew Carey Show

CBS
Everybody Loves Raymond, JAG

HBO
The Sopranos

NBC
The Tonight Show, Crossing Jordan

PBS
Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies (April 21), Frontier House (April 29-30)