Big screen. Bigger. Bigger than that.

“I can’t tell the difference between DVD and HD,” sez a typical flat-panel shopper, staring at a “huge” 42-inch screen.

No, he’s not an idiot. He’s not undiscerning. In many cases, he’s right. Because 42″ is a dang small screen.

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking. “I have a nut on my hands here. He thinks 42″ is small. When I was growing up, we watched a 19″ screen and we were happy . . .”

Yeah, and you walked uphill to school in the snow, you didn’t have cellphones, you had to kill and dress your own game, there was no hot running water, ad infinitum.

Fact is, there’s no reason not to have an 80″, 100″, or even 120″ screen today—a screen where you’ll not only see the difference between DVD and HD, it’ll put your jaw on the floor. And it’ll put your neighbor’s jaw on the floor. And the guy shopping for TVs? Yeah, he’ll see it too, unless he’s legally blind.

The impact of the HD switchover increases with the size of the image. That’s a fact. Today’s affordable panels–say, up to about 50″ in size–typically can’t deliver the full impact of an HD image, no matter if they are 720p or 1080p or 1234xyz. If you’re looking at a postage stamp, HD’s not going to make much difference. And yes, 42″ and 50″ screens are postage stamps.

“So how do I get a 120″ screen without going broke?” You ask. “Last I heard, a 103-inch plasma set was going for $45K, and I ain’t gonna spring for a plasma over a Mercedes.”

It’s simple. You buy a projector.

I can hear the groans now. “But you gotta sit in the dark!” “But you gotta replace bulbs!” Yeah, yeah. Get over it. What do you do in a movie theater? You sit in the dark. HD isn’t about counting the pimples on a newscaster, it’s about movies, plain and simple. And bulbs? Hey, if you watch over 3000 hours of movies in a year, you need to get out more.

Consider this: for about $1000, you can get a very, very good 720p-native projector. Screens run the gamut, but you can pick up wall-mount 120″ screens for as little as $400. That’s $1400 for 120″–about the same price as a 42″ panel.

Stepping up from 720p to 1080p costs, but you’re still looking at under $5000 for the projector. That’s your average 60″ panel talking.

And, right now, maybe you don’t need 1080p. Watching HD on a 720p projector on a 120″ screen is a jaw-dropping experience. Your neighbors will walk in, stop, and stare. They’ll ask you where you got it. They’ll run out and get their own. There’s no question whether HD is better–it’s so staggeringly better it can’t be denied.

So. Want to impress with HD? Go big. No, bigger. Bigger than that.

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