If you think about it, the one thing above all others that makes the experience of seeing a film at the cinema is the sheer size of the picture. Watching the events unfold on 'the big screen' delivers a much more immersive experience than squinting at them across a bright, cluttered room at some puny telly.
So obviously it follows from this that if you're keen to recreate the cinematic experience at home, you need to think big with your next TV. And TVs don't get much bigger right now, without spending megabucks at least, than 52in. So to help your cinematic dreams come true, we've rounded up no less than four of these king-sized beasts to find out which will serve you best.
Price: £2,600 More info: Philips Size (no stand): 1170(w) x 736(h) x 125(d)mm Weight: 33.5kg Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 8000:1 Claimed max brightness: 550cd/m2 Connections: Three HDMI inputs (PC and video), two Scarts (1 RGB), component video input, composite video input, S-Video input, D-Sub PC input, stereo audio output, headphone jack, stereo audio inputs, CAM slot, RF input, service port, USB port for JPEG, MP3, slideshow, MPEG1 and MPEG2 playback
Philips' entry in this 52in group test isn't just big. It's also mighty clever, sporting one of the longest feature counts we've ever seen.
The most immediately obvious of its tricks is Ambilight, whereby pools of coloured light sympathetic to the content of the picture you're watching spill from the TV's sides to make long-term viewing more relaxing.
Arguably the most significant 52PFL9632D feature, though, is its Perfect Pixel HD image processing engine. This adds a variety of key new elements to the detail-boosting, noise-reducing talents of Philips' previous, well-received Pixel Plus 3 engine. For instance, there's a new 100Hz system designed to counter LCD's problems with motion blur, and an HD Natural Motion element to make movement more fluid.
There really are loads more features we'd love to cover, but we've space for just one more - a 'Clear LCD' backlight system where an array of individually controllable backlights replaces the usual single backlight, so the TV can replicate the old, motion-friendly scanning system employed by CRT technology.
Thankfully all the 52PFL9632D's highfalutin technology not only works, but works brilliantly. The most instant 'hit' is how stunningly sharp and crisp HD pictures look - though the Perfect Pixel engine helps standard definition fare look remarkably detailed too. What's more, the sharpness we're describing is relatively unspoilt by LCD's usual problems with motion blur and judder.
Colours, meanwhile, are sensationally rich and vivid, yet also possess unusual subtlety and, for most of the time, entirely believable tones. Helping this colour situation immensely is the 52PFL9632D's superior black level response, which avoids much of the grey clouding problem with dark scenes that still blights so many LCD TVs.
You need to be rather careful how you set the 52PFL9632D's images up to get the best from them, and occasionally the high-level picture processing goes slightly awry, such as in the way it sometimes causes 'ghost' second images of small, fast-moving objects. But for the most part Philips' biggest LCD TV to date is a really quite wondrous affair that sets the bar mighty high for its rivals today.
Superb picture quality, features galore, lovely Ambilight design Minus points
You have to be careful with your picture settings, there are occasional processing glitches
Price: £2,200 More info: Samsung Size (on stand): 1372(w) x 845.4(h) x 319.9(d)mm Weight: 42kg Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 500000:1 (crikey!) Claimed max brightness: 500cd/m2 Connections: Three v1.3a HDMI inputs; Two Scarts (2 RGB); component video input; composite video input; S-Video input; D-Sub PC input; Stereo audio output; headphone jack; stereo audio inputs; CAM slot; RF input; USB 2.0 socket; digital audio output
The LE52F96B is the first LCD TV we've seen in the UK to use an LED backlight array rather than the usual single, always-on, backlight.
Why does this matter? Well, firstly it should help counter LCD technology's traditional problem with reproducing convincing black colours, since the TV can regulate the light output of individual parts of the screen as needs dictate, allowing dark areas to look, well, darker.
Second, because the LEDs can be activated in sequence, the LE52F96B can achieve an illumination situation similar to that used by CRT technology, resulting in motion that looks less jerky and more crisp.
Other intriguing things about the rather pretty LE52F96B include three HDMIs; a USB port for MP3 and JPEG playback; Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine picture processing for improving colours, black levels, sharpness and motion; and something called Movie Plus that adds extra image frames to further improve motion clarity.
The LE52F96B's LED backlight system immediately makes its presence felt with some pretty remarkable black levels. The grey misting over dark areas so familiar with normal LCD TVs is almost completely removed, leaving superbly natural, deep blacks that rival those of even many plasma TVs. Colours enjoy an extra intensity and naturalism of tone thanks to the LED backlighting too, particularly when showing rich reds and greens.
Yet more good news comes from the LE52F96BD's sharpness when showing HD. It leaves absolutely no HD pixel unrendered and shows moving objects with noticeably less resolution loss than you'd see on a 'standard' LCD TV.
Perhaps inevitably for a debut technology, the LE52F96BD does have issues for Samsung to work on with future LED generations. The set's viewing angle is rather limited, for instance. And we also found it tended to exaggerate any noise that might be found in standard definition broadcasts, occasionally still suffered the odd moment of motion blur, and introduced extra video noise with the Movie Plus mode activated.
Still, while not perfect, the LE52F96BD showcases the potential of LED backlighting sufficiently well to convince us that one day all flat TVs might be made this way.
Superb black level response, impressive colour resolution, generally good motion handling, beautifully designed, excellent connectivity Minus points
Standard definition playback can look noisy, the viewing angle is limited, still occasional blur