There are two general types of flat panel televisions to choose from, plasma and LCD. For a smaller flat panel tv, LCD is generally the only option available. Once the size of the television gets above about 50 inches, plasma becomes an option. Plasma televisions used to have problems with life cycle and burn in, but at this point these problems have all been resolved. Because of this, a plasma tv is generally a much better purchase than an LCD tv of similar size. The plasma tv will have a better picture quality, a wider viewing angle, and a lower price.
LCD flat panel televisions should not be counted out yet, however. New technology from LCD flat panel tv manufacturers using LED back lights has allowed LCD picture quality to approach the picture quality of plasma. This means it is now possible to get LCD televisions with quality that approaches plasma in smaller sizes for greater versatility. While this option is still more expensive than a plasma television inch for inch, the price will go down as the technology matures.
One of the most pressing things to consider when buying a flat panel tv is always going to be budget. Like most consumer purchases, the better models are generally more expensive. In the case of flat panel televisions, this particularly applies to size. As size goes up, the price and quality of the television goes up as well. Once a flat panel hits about 50 inches, plasma will become the cheaper, better purchase for almost all applications. Before 50 inches, it simply comes down to buying the best LCD for the money. When sitting far away from a television regularly, money can be saved by buying a lower resolution. When watching mostly news programs and less action oriented television, money can be saved by avoiding costly 240 Hz sets.
Technological advancements and lower price points make now a great time to purchase a plasma or LCD flat panel tv. Either option provides a far better viewing experience at a much lower price than anything that was available a few years ago without the downsides that used to plague both formats. Whether purchasing a large television for a main room or a smaller television for another area of the house, flat panel televisions are currently a good value for their quality.