What is LCD technology?
In simple terms, Liquid Crystal Display utilizes white light passed through tiny cells filled with liquid crystal. A pixel is comprised of three cells one red, one blue, and one green. An electrical charge manipulates the cells, thus creating the intensity of each color. It is the same technology used in digital clocks, microwave ovens, and computers screens. For the tech buff, here's a encyclopedia page explaining LCD technology in depth.
How much do LCD Rear Projection televisions cost?
Prices can vary depending on the size and manufacturer. Here's a generalized price range you can expect from most outlets selling LCD rear projection televisions:
41-49": $2,000 and up
50-60": $2,500 and up
Over 60": $3,000 and up
Keep in mind, prices will vary from manufacturer suggested prices to retail and online stores. Traditionally, the lowest prices are on the Internet, but you should factor in the shipping charges when looking at the low base price. Shipping can cost hundreds of dollars.
What's the weight and thickness of LCDs?
LCDs are between CRT and DLP rear projection when it comes to size and weight. Sets in the 40-50" range generally weigh less than 100 pounds while larger sets can weight as much as 200 pounds. LCDs are known for their thin build, and even the largest of models aren't more than 20" thick. Expect most LCD rear projection televisions around 12-18" thick.
What has a better picture: CRT, LCD, LCOS, DLP?
First off, eliminate CRT based solely on lack of technology, and LCOS because LCOS format isn't as common as DLP or LCD rear projection, though LCOS is considered a supped-up version of LCD. The main competitor to LCD is digital light processing. Side by side, LCD and DLP are two of the finest television pictures regardless of the make or model. It boils down to individual taste. Personally, I like DLP technology in rear projection, but LCD rear projection is a very close second. I really don't notice much of a difference between the two formats until the 55"+ sizes.
Note: Both technologies have possible side effects. Some people say LCDs demonstrate a 'screen door' effect - meaning the picture is pixilated and appears as if you're watching TV through a screen door. Because DLP uses refracted light, some say it has a 'rainbow effect', which basically causes the red, green, and blue light to form a rainbow. These are things you should notice immediately upon viewing a television, but it's important to put'em on the table for future reference.
What features are important?
Features like parental controls, user-friendly menu systems, and audio quality are part of shopping for a new television. You want the best (and most) for your money. With the shift to digital technology, you'll also have to decide if you want to purchase a HD-compatible LCD television and/or one with a digital cable card slot, which eliminates the need for a set-top box. While high definition television programming will only grow in the years to come, it's hard to say how quickly a new technology like digital cable ready slots will catch on in the marketplace, though many new projection televisions are coming equipped with them.
Where do I go from here
As a consumer, it's important to know your options in the marketplace. You have several options:
1) Go out and buy the TV you think is the right choice for you
2) Read more about TV/Video equipment on this or other sites
3) Wait a little while to see how the digital move plays out, prices drop, and technology gets a little better
The important thing to understand is the choice is yours, and when it comes to television and video equipment - nobody can force you to buy anything anytime at any price.