Seeing this as an opportunity, I went to several dealers while in Georgia to get a feel for the landscape of video monitor choices. I wanted something large, so CRTs were out, and I didn't want convergence problems, so rear-projection TVs with CRTs were also non-starters. Plasma sets have reputations for burn-in problems, especially with 4:3 video, and there's a big price jump from 480 lines to 720 lines, so I decided against them. That left DLP rear projection sets and LCD rear projection sets. There were some good contenders in both categories, including a 46" DLP set from Akai that Fry's had on special for $1000, but I decided on a really nice Panasonic 50" LCD projection set that was at Costco. It did a better job with computer-generated imagery, had an integrated photo viewer with a SD card slot, came with a nice custom stand that would hold my center speaker, and it looked really, really nice.
On returning to Austin, I called up my friend Patrick who got his wife's RAV-4, and we headed to the Austin Costco. I brought a tape measure with me, because I was concerned about the size of the box. This was pretty valid, because the box that held the TV and the stand was a little larger, in two dimensions, than the available space in the back of the RAV-4. However, I determined that this was solvable by unpacking it out at the curb and loading items in individually, so I got a loader, bought the set, and took it out to meet Patrick. We started pulling off the cardboard panels, discovered that the stand had its own, smaller box, loaded that, lifted the foam-wrapped set into the back, picked up the accessories, and found that Costco's cardboard ninjas had already taken away the packing materials. Cool!
So far, I've just watched normal cable and a few DVDs on it, but I'm about to go pick up the Time Warner HDTV digital video recorder box. Between the HDTV, tangoglenn's Bastille Day party, and the new Harry Potter book, it's going to be a full weekend.