For those of you who are thinking about buying an HDTV this year, here's a quick recap on the specs that you need to know about.

There are three main types of HDTV: Plasma, LCD and LCD with LED backlighting. Each is different in the technologies they use to light the screen. While plasma used to be the cat’s meow, LCD technology has improved more over the last few years and with the addition of LED backlighting, it is now pretty close to an equal contender. Plasmas still have darker blacks and are better in dark rooms. As far as price goes, plasma can give you good bang for your buck if you want a really big screen. However most of us don’t want to keep the drapes drawn during the day and many of us are happy with a 42” to 48” screen.

In that size screen, LCD and LED are more cost effective than plasma. An LED TV is simply an LCD with LED (light emitting diode) backlighting. You will pay a slight premium for LED over a plain LCD TV. LEDs offer better energy efficiency and are often thinner. Most, but not all, LEDs have slightly brighter pictures. If poorly done, however, they can have lighting uniformity issues. So let your eyes be your guide in that respect.

You will still hear about 720p and 1080P in the TV specifications. If you have 20/20 vision and sit 12 feet from the TV, you won’t really notice much difference between a 720p and a 1080p TV. You would actually have to sit quite a bit closer to see any additional details. These days, however, 1080P TVs are becoming the norm and not adding much to the cost, so you may want to get a 1080p TV just because you can.

Two other common HDTV specifications are refresh rate and contrast ratios. You will see refresh rates of 60 Hz, all the way up to 480 Hz and you will see a wide variety of contrast ratios. These two specs are often used to entice people to purchase more expensive TVs. In another article,  I’ll give you a rundown of exactly what these two specs mean, but my simple advice is that in purchasing an HDTV, you can pretty much ignore them both without detriment.

When buying an HDTV, the last thing to consider are the extras like 3D and Internet connectivity. I personally don’t like 3D. Not only does it give me a headache, but I don’t want to have to wear glasses to watch TV. If, however, you like 3D, go for it. Just remember that because of lack of 3D content, the only way to really take advantage of a 3D TV is to buy a Blu-ray player and 3D movies on disks.

 As far as Internet connectivity, it can be a plus if you plan on using Netflix, Amazon videos, or other content from the Web, but don’t pay too much of a premium for Internet connectivity because you can always add a device like Roku, Apple TV or others to add it later fairly inexpensively.

Okay Betsy that brings us to your TV cabinet, your choice of manufacturer, and sound. Building a cabinet around the TV is a bit old fashioned and not really necessary with the new TVs. They are so thin and light that you might be better off to simply buy a small stand or hang your new TV on the wall.

Many of you mention to me that Samsung and Sony are the two brands that you feel are highly rated. Yes. They are both good brands but even good brands are not perfect. I have a smaller Samsung that has been going without a glitch for about eight years. The 42” Samsung that I purchased a few years ago, however, has had two repairs that would have each cost more than the TV. Luckily I took out a five year service policy when I purchased the TV.  A friend of mine has already had to replace the Sony that he purchased three years ago.

Bottom line is that if you pay more than $700 for an HDTV, you may want to see if a service policy is cost effective.

As far as brands go, if you want to save some money, I also like Visio, which is a less expensive brand. My Black Friday purchase was a 26” Insigna LED 1080p 60 Hz TV for $99. Insigna is a value-brand from Best Buy. I don’t expect this TV to be perfect, but for $100 I won’t feel bad if I have to throw it away in three or four years.