I'm in the process of buying my first LCD TV. I have a Media Center PC, which I use a lot for PC games. What's the best set to buy for under £1,000?
This is a tricky problem, Terry. There's no guarantee that a PC will work properly with a particular TV because there are so many different PC configurations out there, but we can offer you some general advice.
Firstly, it's worth remembering that if the resolution of your graphics card exactly matches the resolution of your TV, you will see a much sharper picture.
If you are into gaming on your TV, you'll need to make sure that the set you have in mind has a fast response time. Look for a minimum of 8ms for good performance. The lower the response time, the less likely you are to see blurring on movement.
If you are going to watch HD DVD or Blu-ray movies on your PC in the future, you need to make sure that both your new LCD and your Media Center PC have a DVI or HDMI port that supports HDCP, the copy-protection system designed to prevent high-definition movie piracy. Because HDMI also supports sound, you'll want to make sure that the graphics card is connected to your sound output, too.
As with any PC, make sure that you have the latest graphics card drivers for your machine -- out of date drivers can cause numerous problems.
Ultimately, however, you're going to have to check things out the hard way -- by downloading a manual or spec sheet from the TV manufacturer's Web site and checking that it supports the resolution of your Media Center PC.
In terms of specific models we'd recommend, there are three we've tested that are generally good for Media Center setups.
The Acer AT4220 is a 42-inch LCD television that can be bought online for about £900, and offers good performance when connected to a PC via D-Sub. It also looks great with high-definition material.
Thecan do 1:1 pixel mapping and has a refresh rate of 8ms, so this is a good choice if you do a lot of gaming. It's also got D-Sub, component and HDMI inputs, making it ideal for Media Center, too. Sound quality, however, isn't brilliant, so it might be better to get a separate surround-sound amplifier for movies and games.
The final set to look out for is the, which is an excellent 32-inch LCD TV. It supports 720p and has the necessary inputs to connect a Media Center PC. It's a little over £1,000, but shopping around will yield lower prices. If you watch a lot of Freeview, this set is the best choice with its good standard-def picture quality.