Last month, I spent many hours over a weekend installing an LCD for my father-in-law and my wife's friend's husband. We originally bought the Samsung and the Sony Bravia. After hours fiddling with the setups on the Samsung (using Video Essentials), we realized the Samsung was defective. It kept changing aspect ratios by itself, even when watching a single source. We returned it and bought a Sony XRB. Wow, what a difference. IMHO, the Sony was built better than the Samsung. The case and stand on the Samsung were just cheap compared to the Sony. The Sony had better colors and blacks. Now get this: The speakers on the Samsung were on the bottom edge of the TV frame and POINTED DOWN!! Go figure. Also, the Samsung image seemed to be soft or washed. The Sony image punched. Next, my wife's friend had bought a Sony Bravia. It didn't quite fit his cabinet, so we returned it and bought a Sony WEGA. It didn't say XRB, but the XRB shares the same video processing engine (WEGA engine). The Bravia had the same softer picture like the Samsung. The WEGA/XRB punched! You probably won't see this on a showroom floor because most TVs have their brightness turned up to 100 percent as well as the contrast, and the picture image choices are typically on "Vivid" to give the brightest, most contrasty picture. The Sony speakers were very good. Had nice bass and virtual surround, which was nice in a small space. The Sony XRB/WEGA remote was better than both the Samsung or Bravia. Better setup and fine-tune options too. Also, for whatever reason, the WEGA/XRB seemed to do a much better job of handling crummy standard-def cable channels. There was less jaggies on text too. So, I would say if you've got the bucks, get an XRB. It runs about $200 to $300 more than the Samsung and Bravia, but to me you will forget the extra cost when you see the picture. And my 2-cents: stay away from Philips, Magnavox, RCA and the off-brands. They're tempting because they are $400 to $500 less than a good TV. Oh, as far as 720p vs 1080i, I don't think you will find a 26" TV that is rated at 1080i native resolution. 720p is perfect. The Sony and Samsung are native 720p but they do display 1080i. Personally, when watching HD channels that broadcast in both 720p or 1080i, I can't tell the difference. Both look stunning.
Ok, I happen to be employed by a major electronics retailer who just happens to offer a good discount on home theater goods. I'm in college and am looking for a good LCD screen. My roommate plans on getting a PS3 when it comes out, but otherwise the only HD source I'll be able to use will be an up-converting DVD player I plan on picking up as well.
I'm looking mostly at 26 in screens. Just looking for some good recommendations. I am not too picky although it will need at least one HDMI input. I will mostly be using the TV to watch movies... so which would be better: 720p or 1080i? Also, the most important thing is the sound quality. I don't have room for good speakers and I'm not expecting anything amazing from the ones built in... but they need to suffice. Thanks for any help you can give.