Top 5 Entry-level HDTVs

Panasonic's 150-inch television is impressive, but probably not the best choice for the first-time buyer.  See more HDTV pictures.
AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye

Buying an HDTV is both exciting and perplexing. There are lots of options to consider. Should you go with a flat-panel display? What's the difference between LCD and plasma sets? Should you skip that debate and buy a digital light processing (DLP) set? What technologies provide the best value for the dollar?

Then you have all the other features that come with HDTVs. What kind of input ports does it have? How many are there? What kind of special cables will you need to purchase? Are you going with component video, S-video or HDMI connections? Do you want your television to be compatible with other devices like an MP3 player?

Manufacturers will do their best to convince you that their brand is the best when it comes to HDTV. If you want to buy the latest and greatest set on the market, you'll have to spend big bucks. In fact, the largest and most feature-rich televisions can cost more than $70,000!

We've looked at the wide world of HDTVs and picked out five models that are good choices for people who want to get the high-definition experience but aren't looking for cutting-edge products. These sets will let you view content in high-definition, but may not have all the bells and whistles that the newest models on the market boast.

Even at the lower end of the spectrum, HDTVs can be a big investment. We've chosen two budget models (retailing for less than $550), two moderately-priced sets (less than $1,000) and one premium model for the first-time HDTV customer.