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(ARA) – Is this the year you buy a flat-screen TV? Prices have dropped dramatically on high-definition flat screens in the past few years, and with retailers still competing fiercely for your dollar, chances are you’ll be able to score a good deal before the holidays arrive.

But before you buy, you should know a few basics about flat screens, including the different types (plasma and LCD), sizes, advantages, disadvantages and mounting options. Here is the 411 on flat screens:

There are two types of flat screens: plasma and LCD. While you may see some models advertised as LED TVs, they are actually LCD models that use LED backlights. Both look similar, offering sleek, thin profiles and wide, crystal-clear screens capable of doing justice to a high-definition signal or DVD. Before you buy, look for an online calculator that will help you decide what size is best for the space you have.

Each type of flat screen has advantages and drawbacks. Plasma TVs offer a great picture from virtually anywhere in the room, but can generate a lot of heat and hence, consume a large amount of power. LCD TVs offer a larger variety of screen sizes and are better suited for viewing in bright rooms with a lot of reflection.

However, viewing angle has been a concern for some LCD buyers who find that the picture degrades depending on where you’re sitting in relation to the screen. It may not be practical to arrange seating so that everyone is viewing an LCD screen from straight-on. Movable wall mounts can be a better solution, offering you plenty of options for adjusting the viewing angle. Different mounts move in different ways, however. Your movement options include:

Full-motion mounts, such as Sanus’ VMF220, allow you to extend, tilt and swivel a flat screen in all directions. You can find mounts that will support TVs that are 42 to 63 inches, that extend nearly 26 inches from the wall, or that allow the TV to sit virtually flush against the wall. Many allow you to hide cables within the moving arm.

Tilting mounts, like the VMPL50A, allow a TV to tilt down toward the floor, or up toward the ceiling, similar to how you can adjust your desktop screen. They’re a great solution if you’re dealing with glare from lights or windows, or if you would like to wall mount your TV and watch it while lying down.

If your TV is mounted out of easy reach, or if you prefer to minimize the need to touch it, you can opt for a remote-controlled motorized mount. These mounts make it easy to achieve the perfect viewing angle without leaving the comfort of your sofa. Sanus’ full-motion motorized wall mount extends 12 inches from the wall and can support TVs 40 to 63 inches in size. An ultra-quiet version extends 9 inches from the wall.

Movable wall mounts can help alleviate one of the most common caveats of owning an LCD, putting these cost-effective flat screens well within reach – both literally and figuratively – of virtually anyone who wants to add a knockout TV to their home decor this holiday season.