Here are a few things to consider when buying a wide screen LCD HD TV.
Shop around, obviously. Read the reviews. Unbiased evaluations, they do exist. And base your decision on dependability, warranty, reviews, and features. Features (in my opinion) are the interconnects available on the TV ie multiple inputs for HD, HDMI, DVI, Component, RF digital etc.. It becomes important after you purchase the TV and you get it home. They are not all the same.
Most of the Channels you will see on cable and satelite are not digital. These companies will talk up a storm but the facts are quite clear. Unless the channel is broadcast in HD, you're going to get a not so perfect picture in wide screen. The picture improves when you bring it down to a square screen for regular stations, but most people are not happy with buying a $2000 TV and watching anything but wide screen. Until and even after the nations broadcasters change over to digital TV in 2010, most of what you see is going to be analog or not HD. Don't despair, buying an HDTV now puts you ahead of the game, the picture in a square format is exceptional, and HD channels are great. If you have any doubts, ask the sales people in the store to hook up the HDTV to a regular cable or satelite feed. They either won't do it, won't have the feed, or tell you that all the electronic equipment in the store creates interference. Bottom line, you're going to get a better picture with your tube TV for most regular cable and satelite shows. Digital cable and satelite is analog with a few HD programs mixed in.
After you've purchased your TV, make the neccassary adjustments to both TV and cable/satelite box. They both should have set-up menus that enable you to see on screen menu's when watching regular stations and they need to be in sync with each other electronically ie; 1080, 480p blah, blah,blah all contained in your manuals. If you can't find a manual for your cable box as is the scenario with some cable providers (who want to charge you for setting everything up) go online to motorola (for example) and they provide the manuals and set-up guides.
A note about interconnects. The back of the TV and cable/satelite box can be quite confusing. But here are a few tips. First, try every connection and look for the best picture. From extensive research, I've discovered that TV's and box's are not alike. You may get a better picture through HDMI, DVI,Component, S-video, or even composite or RF. The cable or satelite provider will give you the most economical interface (usually component) so don't settle. Take your time and try them out, even if it takes you an afternoon. Also, there are numerous adapters on the market (check out monoprice.com) for what you need to do. For example, Comcast doesn't support HDMI cables (that's a big USB looking interface). They do have a DVI connector (Computer monitor looking plug). An inexpensive adapter or cable solves that problem. In many cases, I found this was the best picture for the entire system. However, HDMI carries video and sound. DVI only carries Video. This means you have to bring the sound into the TV through another source. Luckily, many TV's have either an HDMI plug with RCA audio connectors (specifically for this problem) and some have a DVI connection already that utilizes RCA audio. Unfortunately DVI is becoming obsolete as HDMI takes over. Reason being, HDMI is apparently theft proof interface/ copy prevention gobbly gook. Bunch of crap if you ask me, but the picture, is outstanding in either case.
Word to the wise; check out the back of the cable/satelite/dvd box you will be using. Compare this with the LCD TV interconnects. Don't buy any crazy monster cables (this is complete hype). Buy what you need online. I can't tell you how many name brand, expensive, off the shelf interconnects have been tainted or broken, new out of the box, resulting in poor color, picture and sound quality and lots of head scratching.
Quick note on digital interface cards for HDTV's. The reviews for these have been exemplary. Many people have said the picture is extroidinary when using these cards. I have not had much experience with these but I understand this much. Not all cable and satelite systems are compatible with these cards. They are inexpensive to rent from cable/satelite providers, but many national cable companies have had some serious problems getting them to work, based on the TV and the cards they issue. And finally, using the card on some systems eliminates the need and ability to access the box and the premium channels. Ultimately, if the card slot comes with the TV, great. But just like NASA, have a back up plan.
Finally, if your connecting a DVD player, the same rules apply. Check out all the interconnects for the best picture. If your buying new, get one with an HDMI connector (it'll save you on wire because you only need one cable for sound and video, granted that your TV has two HDMI's; one for the box and one for DVD, if that gives you the best picture). But don't be fooled, you may get an extroidinary picture through an S-video connection on an old player. I'm a witness.
Hope that wasn't too technical. A great site to check for Q&A, reviews and forums is ecoustics.com.. Many good people on this site.