We all have probably been watching TV lately a bit more then we used to before the pandemic. You may also have wondered it might be time to replace your old non-smart TV for something up to date which will give you the right amount of enjoyment while watching your favourite movies or TV series.
There has been huge progress in TV technology and the features it offers. We will today help you get through all the new tech terms and jargon before you go shopping for your next TV. After all, it’s one of those things we use the most and don’t replace for some time.
What TV size should I get?
The first thing to check when looking at a new TV is how much space you have in the room the TV will be placed. Make sure you measure the height, width and depth of the space where your new TV will be located.
The second thing to take into consideration is that different TVs also have different dimensions and positions of their legs (some of them being just one leg in the middle, some having 2 on each side..), so make sure you have enough space on your TV stand as well.
The TV screens are measured diagonally, so that’s the diagonal measurement, not the height or width when you see a TV described as 55 inches. It is one of the first things you will probably look at.
How far away will you be?
The distance of where you’ll be sitting in relation to the TV is another aspect to consider when deciding on the TV size. There are several calculators online to tell you the recommended distance from your TV, but in practice, the distance is usually between 1.5 – 2.5 times the diagonal width of the screen and with 30° viewing angle. So for example with 55″ TV, you should sit somewhere between 2 – 3.5 metres away for comfortable watching.
Please note, these measures are only recommended for ideal watching conditions and may obviously vary due to many reasons (sight issues, room dimensions etc.)
Size does not equal quality
If you are on a tight budget you might have to make some important decisions as bigger TV doesn’t mean better quality or well-balanced colours.
So instead of going for a massive 65-inch TV from not so known brand, you might get better value for your money in smaller 55-inch TV from a reputable brand such as Samsung, Sony, LG etc. which is more likely to give you better, immersive viewing experience thanks to its good colour range (even more if supports HDR), better sound, smoothness of the smart interface (menu) etc.
The “4K” in 4K UHD (Ultra High Definition) TVs corresponds to their resolution. The term is catchy and easier to remember even though it doesn’t exactly represent the exact pixel resolution (it is 3840 x 2160p in reality). It is now the new standard for the number of pixels you see used to create the on-screen picture.
The difference is noticeable as it is four times the pixel resolution of the previous standard called Full-HD (1920 x 1080p), especially when many of the current content in TV or for example on YouTube already supports the 4K resolution. Image is crisper, fine details are clear and visible, and you can sit closer to larger TVs without notable image degradation or seeing the actual pixels (“dots”).
We recommend to look for a 4K TV as full HD slowly becomes outdated and especially the difference on large TVs (especially 49″ and more) is really noticable.
What about 8K? is it worth it?
The image quality on 8K TVs is truly breathtaking (especially seeing it on large 85″ screen) but considering the very high prices (£1800 – £10 000) the TVs with 8K are sold for and with very few content available in 8K resolution at the moment, it might not be the right time for them yet if you like to look at the price-value ratio.
HDR for the better experience
HDR stands for high dynamic range and if done right it is a must-have feature on your new TV.
What it basically does is, it takes the image of your TV and makes it more vibrant and lifelike through higher brightness, contrast or wider colour gamut (total number of colours a TV can display). Once you see the image with HDR, going back to a standard dynamic range (SDR) will make you feel like all the colourful happiness has been taken away from your TV.
Although many 4K TV sold today are already HDR-ready, not all of them have done it right and you might end up with oversaturated colours which will not feel real.
HDR10+ over HDR10
If you come across a choice of having TV with HD10 or HDR10+, the second option might be the better one as these two standards work in a bit different way and where HDR10 aims to produce 1000 nits of peak brightness, HDR10+ supports up to 4000 nits.
Dolby Vision standard is mostly used in high-end OLED TVs made in addition to HDR10 and aims at reproducing 10 000 nits of peak brightness.
Peak brightness tells us the maximum luminance of a TV. The higher it gets, the more the TV can make the picture look brighter, which can help with visibility in a room with lots of light, or to make small highlights in the picture look good.
Buying Smart TV adds up a bit to its price tag but it is certainly a good thing to have, especially nowadays, when there is so much content to be found online on either free streaming services like YouTube or on premium on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, Apple TV, hulu and so much more.
A smart TV connects directly to the internet either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable and comes usually with some of the streaming apps pre-installed, with more available in their store to be downloaded.
Every TV brand uses a bit different software/interface and its always good thing to read a review of the TV or go test in in the shop, as some software in cheaper models might be lagging and may ruin your viewing experience on the first day.
Some of the Smart TVs, for example from Samsung, also have a handy feature of sharing the screen from your laptop to your TV directly over the Wi-Fi, which surely comes in handy in some family album browsing.
TV’s refresh rate refers to the number of times per second that the image is refreshed on the screen. If the TV has a refresh rate of 60Hz, the image gets refreshed 60 times per second. The higher the refresh rate is, the smoother the image gets.
The higher rate is, however, not suitable for all kind of content. You might benefit from it while watching sport or playing fast action games but with regular movies and TV shows, the higher rate causes so-called “soap opera effect“, where the picture is just way to smooth for human’s eye.
For this case, most, if not all TVs will give an option to reduce the refresh rate easily in the settings (often called as picture processing).
Every TV can carry a number of inputs and outputs to connect them with different devices. Most of the devices such as gaming consoles, external monitors, laptops or blue-ray players now support HDMI which should be available on all currently sold smart TVs.
If you own a speaker sound system, don’t forget to check the back or side of the TV for the connectors you need to connect them or for Bluetooth if you like to spare them (or your headphones) this way.
Difference between OLED vs LCD and LED
There are many types of screen currently available on the market and it is good to have some kind of idea what to look for.
- OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode which means that when a pixel isn’t active, it isn’t producing any light and goes perfectly black.
- OLED then offer the best, deepest and truest black colour
- OLED is available in fewer TVs as the technology supports only 4K
- The prices are much higher than for LED TVs
- LCD stands for liquid crystal display and its screen use a backlight to illuminate its pixels.
- The black colour is not actually real black as there is still the backlight showing through but offers fantastic natural-looking colours
- The contrast is lower and viewing angles are worse than on OLED or LED displays
- LED stands for light emitting diode and the backlighting of the screen is produced by LEDs and not fluorescent lamps
- Longer lifespan than LCD (approx. 15 years vs 8 years)
- Better contrast and image quality than LCD
- Thinner design and more energy-efficient than LCD
- LED TVs cover a wider range of sizes (19″ to 88″) and both Full HD and 4K, where OLED supports 4K only
- The picture quality (contrast, black level, and brightness) is not as good as with OLED
- Viewing angle is more narrow than with OLED
There are many variables when trying to choose the right TV for your home. It is important to set values what do you expect form the TV, whether you desire a large 60″ TV no matter the quality or brand or you would be happy with smaller 55″ but with better image and trust in brand for around the same price.
Also, we recommend get to a shop and get the real-life feeling rather than making a decision from some PR pictures and specs online, as it makes it easier to decide when you can see all the TVs next to each other, and compare different brightness or colour contrasts between them.