TV buying guide: Things you need to know

Choosing the right television can be a daunting task. The market is flooded with a myriad of options, each boasting different features, specifications, and technologies. To make an informed decision, it’s essential to understand your needs, the available technologies, and the latest trends in the television industry. This comprehensive TV buying guide aims to simplify the process and help you find the perfect TV for your home entertainment needs.

1. Understanding TV Technologies:

a. Resolution:

The resolution of a TV determines the clarity of the picture. The most common resolutions are Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels), and 8K (7680 x 4320 pixels). Choose a resolution based on the size of your TV and your viewing distance. Larger screens benefit more from higher resolutions.

b. Display Technologies:

  1. LED/LCD: The majority of TVs on the market today use LED/LCD technology, providing good picture quality at an affordable price.
  2. OLED: Organic Light Emitting Diode displays offer deeper blacks and better contrast ratios. They are more expensive but provide superior picture quality.
  3. QLED: Quantum Dot LED TVs use quantum dots to enhance color and brightness. They offer excellent picture quality and are a middle ground between LED/LCD and OLED.

c. Refresh Rate:

A higher refresh rate (measured in Hertz) results in smoother motion on the screen, which is crucial for fast-paced action scenes and gaming. Look for a TV with at least a 60Hz refresh rate for standard viewing, while 120Hz or higher is recommended for gaming and sports enthusiasts.

d. HDR (High Dynamic Range):

HDR enhances the contrast and color of a TV, providing a more lifelike viewing experience. Look for TVs that support popular HDR formats like HDR10, Dolby Vision, or HLG for the best results.

2. Choosing the Right Size:

a. Screen Size:

Consider the size of the room and the distance between the TV and the seating area. As a general rule, the ideal TV size is determined by multiplying the viewing distance (in inches) by 0.2. For example, if your viewing distance is 10 feet (120 inches), a 24-inch TV would be suitable.

b. Aspect Ratio:

The standard aspect ratio is 16:9, but ultrawide screens with a 21:9 ratio are becoming more popular. Choose an aspect ratio that complements your viewing preferences and the content you watch.

3. Smart TV Features:

Most modern TVs come with smart features, allowing you to stream content from popular platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Consider the user interface, app availability, and compatibility with your preferred streaming services when choosing a smart TV.

4. Connectivity and Ports:

Ensure the TV has an adequate number of HDMI, USB, and other ports to accommodate your devices (gaming consoles, soundbars, Blu-ray players, etc.). Check for the latest HDMI version to support future technologies.

5. Audio Quality:

While the picture quality is crucial, don’t overlook the importance of audio. Some TVs have built-in soundbars or support for external audio systems. If audio quality is a priority, consider investing in a separate sound system.

6. Gaming Considerations:

For gamers, low input lag and a high refresh rate are essential. Look for TVs with gaming modes, variable refresh rate (VRR), and support for technologies like NVIDIA G-Sync or AMD FreeSync for a smoother gaming experience.

7. Energy Efficiency:

Consider the energy efficiency of the TV, especially if you plan to use it for extended periods. Look for Energy Star certified models to ensure your TV is environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run.

8. Brand Reputation and Reviews:

Research the reputation of TV brands and read reviews from reliable sources. Consider factors such as customer support, warranty, and the overall reliability of the brand.

Some brands consistently ranking high based on expert reviews and user satisfaction:

Premium Tier:

  • LG: OLED technology leader, known for vibrant picture quality and wide viewing angles.
  • Samsung: Strong contender in QLED and Micro LED, offering excellent features and smart TV capabilities.
  • Sony: Top-notch Bravia models boast superb picture processing and accurate color reproduction.

Mid-Range Tier:

  • TCL: Budget-friendly TVs with surprisingly good picture quality and smart features.
  • Vizio: Affordable options with large screen sizes and decent performance.
  • Hisense: Rising star offering value for money, with ULED technology for improved brightness and contrast.

Additional Factors to Consider:

  • Specific needs: Choose the brand that excels in your priorities, like picture quality, gaming performance, or budget.
  • Screen size and technology: Decide on the desired size and consider LED, OLED, QLED, or Mini LED options based on your budget and preferences.
  • Smart TV features: Prioritize the smart platform and app availability depending on your streaming habits.

Remember, the best brand ultimately depends on your individual needs and budget. However, the brands listed above are strong contenders in the market and worth exploring further.

9. Budget Considerations:

Set a realistic budget based on your requirements and priorities. While it’s tempting to go for the latest and greatest, there are often excellent options that offer great value for money.

10. Future-Proofing:

Consider future technologies and standards. While 4K is currently standard, 8K content is becoming more prevalent. HDMI 2.1 is also becoming standard for higher refresh rates and better gaming performance.

11. Color Accuracy and Viewing Angles:

For an immersive viewing experience, pay attention to color accuracy. TVs with wider color gamuts and accurate color reproduction provide a more lifelike image. Additionally, consider the viewing angles, especially if you have a large seating area. Some display technologies maintain better picture quality at wider angles than others.

12. Local Dimming and Contrast Ratios:

Local dimming enhances contrast by adjusting the brightness of individual sections of the screen. TVs with higher contrast ratios deliver more vibrant images with deeper blacks. Full-array local dimming is generally more effective than edge-lit dimming systems.

13. Motion Handling:

Fast-paced action scenes and sports benefit from good motion handling. Look for TVs with effective motion interpolation technologies to reduce motion blur. Some TVs also offer motion smoothing features, but these can be adjusted to personal preference.

14. Sound Quality and Audio Features:

While many TVs come with built-in speakers, they may not deliver the best audio experience. Consider additional audio features such as Dolby Atmos support or AI-enhanced audio processing. If audio quality is crucial, investing in a separate sound system or soundbar can significantly enhance your overall entertainment setup.

15. Design and Aesthetics:

The aesthetics of your TV contribute to the overall ambiance of your living space. Consider the design, bezel size, and stand options. Some TVs offer sleek, bezel-less designs, while others have unique stand designs or even wall-mounting options for a clean and minimalist look.

16. Smart Home Integration:

If you have a smart home setup, check if the TV integrates seamlessly with your existing devices. Some smart TVs are compatible with popular voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, allowing you to control your TV and connected devices with voice commands.

17. Warranty and Customer Support:

Check the warranty terms offered by the manufacturer. A longer warranty period can provide peace of mind and protection for your investment. Additionally, read reviews or gather information about the customer support services offered by the brand to ensure a smooth experience in case you encounter issues with your TV.

18. Accessibility Features:

Consider the accessibility features of the TV, especially if you or someone in your household has specific needs. Look for features like closed captioning, voice guidance, and easy-to-navigate menus for a more inclusive entertainment experience.

19. Environmental Impact:

For environmentally conscious consumers, assess the TV’s environmental impact. Some manufacturers prioritize sustainability by using eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient technologies. Look for certifications such as Energy Star or EPEAT to ensure your TV aligns with eco-friendly standards.

20. Stay Informed About Industry Trends:

The television industry is dynamic, with new technologies and features constantly emerging. Stay informed about upcoming trends and innovations, such as microLED displays, rollable TVs, and advancements in AI-powered image processing. While these features may not be mainstream yet, they could shape the future of home entertainment.

By delving into these considerations, you can fine-tune your decision-making process and find a TV that not only meets your current needs but also aligns with your future expectations. Remember that choosing the right TV is a personal decision, and finding a balance between specifications, features, and budget is key to ensuring a satisfying and enjoyable home entertainment