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(ARA) – Have you decided it’s finally time to get rid of the boxy tube TV? Maybe upgrading your old DVD player to something a little more sleek and modern?

For those who haven’t shopped for consumer electronics for quite some time, buying a new entertainment system requires some education on the options that are available. Thanks to advances in technology, features you might have once thought were out of your price range have now become more affordable, and just in time for the holidays.

Experts call the big flat-screen high definition TV the hearth of the 21st century. And if this season finds you playing host, you’ll be able to gather your friends and family around the big flat-screen HDTV for your favorite holiday movies in better picture quality than you remember, as many holiday favorites have been updated and released on Blu-ray disc, the HD version of DVD.

If your holiday traditions include enjoying family photos taken throughout the years, or even digging out that old projector, today’s HDTVs allow you to make that experience more interactive. Many new HDTVs and Blu-ray players feature Internet access options so you can gather everyone around the television to share digital photos or show videos of the kids that you have posted on YouTube.

While it’s already easier to get better value for a new HDTV, there’s no better time to shop for a new set than the holiday season, as many stores are competing for your attention and dollar. If you decide you would like to give your family the present of a new HDTV, now is the best time to find bargains.

Once considered a luxury, HD technology is now commonplace in today’s TVs. For example, it’s possible to find a standard 42-inch LCD HDTV like the LD450 from LG Electronics for $600 or less, where such a TV would have been priced at more than $1,000 not long ago.

Before you look, here is a brief overview of some of the features to familiarize yourself with when looking for home entertainment technology this holiday season:

Screens: It’s now standard to expect new TVs to come with a flat-screen slim design. Most screens are either plasma or LCD screens. Plasma TVs usually come in the 42- to 60-inch range, while LCD screens can come in sizes as small as 22 inches and also as large as 60 inches. LCDs generally offer a brighter picture and less screen glare. Plasmas typically offer better viewing angles and deeper black levels.

Blu-ray: While your old television may not have been compatible with a Blu-ray player, most new TVs sold today have high-definition features that work seamlessly with Blu-ray technology. Most new Blu-ray players are also able to play regular DVDs and have the ability to improve picture definition, although not to the point of Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray players from reputable manufacturers can be found for $200 or less.

Web features: Many new HDTVs and Blu-ray players also feature the ability to connect to the Internet to allow you more viewing and listening options. For example, LG’s BD550 Blu-ray player comes with NetCast Entertainment Access that allows users to tap into sources like Netflix for instant streaming movies and Pandora for music, without a PC.

With all the new options available this holiday season, you’ll find that new home entertainment technologies deliver sharper images and more viewing choices – without breaking your budget.

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Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

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