June 9, 2012 at 12:36 PM ET
What do you get the dad who has everything? More tools, a tablet computer, cologne? No, get him a second, smaller TV. While many dads already have a big-screen, flat-panel TV that's 42 inches and up, it's usually in the family room. Get him is own for his workroom, basement or wherever he wants to place it.
The most popular selling TV size is still 32 inches, and that means there are some great deals to be had. The HD Guru explains the features need to know to help you choose the right HDTV and picks the best all-around models, best deal and the cheapest model you can get and still not feel ashamed.
With over 10 million 32-inch HDTVs forecast to be sold this year (Source: Quixel Research) there are dozens of models from many vendors with a number of advanced features available. Before our picks, here the most important criteria you should consider.
32-inch HDTVs are available in 720p or 1080p, the latter with twice as many pixels for a sharper image. The 1080p models are more expensive. Does dad need it? Assuming pop still has near normal vision, the decision will depend on how far his chair will be from the TV. Our HD Viewing Chart (link) shows dad will need to be no further than 50 inches from the screen to see all the resolution with a 1080p 32-incher. He can be up to 75 inches from the screen to see all the detail on a 720p model. So if dad will be viewing six feet or further from his new TV, a 720p model will provide all the resolution needed.
If you think dad wants to be alone when watching his new TV, viewing angle doesn’t matter. All 32-inchers look good when viewed straight-on. However, if he sits at an off-angle or others will be viewing, too, you’re best off with a wide-viewing angle TV. The medium-viewing angle sets listed have a somewhat narrower viewing cone that can still accommodate three to four viewers.
Most 32-inch TVs have two HDMI inputs, good for a cable or satellite box and a Blu-ray player. Most "smart" models have an Ethernet connection and Wi-Fi. Some models also include USB connections too, used to view photos, home videos and other content.
Check out our How to Pick the Right HDTV article for more information when choosing larger screen sizes.
We pick the 720p Panasonic TC-L32C5 LCD TV at $299.99. Features include 2 HDMI inputs, 1 USB input and a PC input and medium-viewing angle.
For 1080p, go with the LG 32CS560 LCD TV at $349. Features include 2 HDMI inputs, one 1 USB input, room light sensor, and built-in self calibration tools for easy set up.
For shoppers seeking the least expensive 32-incher you can find, there are a number of no-name brand models for around $230 to $250. We pick the Haier L32D1120 at $249.99 from Amazon direct with free shipping. Haier is a Chinese company that makes a wide range of products. This 32-Inch set comes with a one-year parts and labor warranty. Buying any no-name brand can be risky; learn more here and here.
Taking a nod from Hallmark, pick this one, when you want to get him the very cheapest.
The LG 32LM6200 is a full-featured 1080p LED LCD. It includes wide-angle viewing, 3-D with 6 pair of glasses, Smart TV with streaming video apps and built-in Wi-Fi, four HDMI inputs, 3 USB inputs, two-player gaming, 1.4-inch depth and more. For those that want the top 32-inch available today and can afford to give it to pop, the 32LM6200 will set you back $619.
The Samsung UN32ES6500 is the most expensive 32-inch consumer HDTV available that we're recommending. Besides 1080p resolution, it offers a medium viewing angle, 2.5-inch deep cabinet, active 3-D with two pairs of glasses included, LED backlight, 120 Hz refresh and scanning, Internet ready (for movie services) plus a Web browser, Skype video-compatible (with camera sold separately) and three HDMI inputs. The UN32ES6500 sells for $899.99 and is available from Crutchfield.
Pick any of these HDTVs and dad will always be able to watch his TV programs whenever he wants.
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