I have been rather fanatical about audio fidelity and the visual quality in any of my own home theatre (HT) setups.
One of the neat little aspects of working in the I.T. industry is how it has parallelled the retail side of the HT, only on a smaller scale.
Once Klipsch released their ProMedia and eventually their ProMedia Ultra THX series of speakers, one could setup a phenomenal sounding surround system for sub CA$1,500 that would compete with $10K systems easily. One only needed a DTS/Dolby Digital sound processor (not integrated into a receiver), some fancy wiring, and a couple of the ProMedia speaker setups strategically placed to have excellent sound positioning, those jet engines and explosions requiring ear plugs on me, and the neighbours pounding on the ceiling! :D
Lately, we have seen the demise of the CRT based televisions. LCD TVs have taken hold of the market, and with the successful opening of newer generation LCD production facilities, bigger and better is forthcoming.
With that in mind, watch out for current technology LCD TVs with a rated 1366 x 768 native resolution. The last number is important, as the LCD TV will not be able to Progressively refresh 1080 lines (1080P). Progressive is one line being refreshed after the other.
Right now, the lower end of the LCD TV product offerings are pretty much all at that native resolution.
True 1080P LCD TVs will have a native resolution of at least 1920 x 1080. This resolution will take advantage of the winner of the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray wars (hybrids are on their way), or even the hopefully forthcoming holographic disc players.
It is possible to notice the visual difference between the two native resolutions! Especially in the typical home theatre room that is darkened for viewing. A retail store's open area and high lighting will not bring out the unit's lower resolution deficiencies.
An excellent, well illustrated article on the importance of High Definition 1080P TV: High Definition 1080p TV: Why You Should Be Concerned.
The Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1 THX Speaker System site. Now discontinued. :(
As with anything, it is Buyer Beware.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists