HDTV shopping; You'll get what you pay for

When most consumers go shopping for a new HDTV they have one thing on their minds: price. Sure the specs are important to some extent, but for the masses, cost is the deciding factor. But shopping for an HDTV on price alone is a major mistake, as many other factors should play into your decision.

Take a look at this recent PC World survey, which asked owners to rate the reliability of HDTVs. Sony sits at the top of the list with above average marks in every category, except ease of use, where it ranks only average. These high marks don't come without a cost; Sony HDTVs are amongst the highest priced units on the market. The extra cost brings more than reliability in this case it also brings a higher quality picture.

As you move down the list, you'll find plenty of brands which are ranked as average for reliability. Many of these, including my current go-to budget brand, Westinghouse, offer a great compromise between price, quality and affordability. Another budget brand which received good marks this year is Vizio, which has surprised me by offering a relatively high-quality unit at a very low price.