The television market has changed a lot in the past few years with the introduction of smart TVs. Now, we have different kinds of screen technologies available, which were earlier limited to plasmas and standard LCDs. So if you are planning on buying a TV, there are things that you need to know before doing that, particularly in a case where you haven’t purchased a television in the last ten years. Since it is easy for you to get confused with all the latest technologies, terminology, and choices available in the market. Therefore, we have brought you a guide dissecting the important stuff about the TVs available in the market nowadays. In other words, we have brought you a TV buying guide.
In this TV buying guide, we have tried to cover everything you need to know before buying a television. We have talked about everything from screen techs to screen sizes and more. Hence, make sure you give this article a good read to make the most out of it. This guide will not only help you to find the best TV, but it will also make sure that you are picking something that is future proof. So, let’s get started with our TV buying guide.
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In case you don’t have the time to go through this piece. Here are some quick tips that will help you in buying the right television.
- 4K resolution is the new normal, so don’t go for anything less, such as full HD(1080p) or HD(720p). However, you can skip 8K TVs for now as they are expensive. On top of that, we don’t have 8K movies and TV shows available, at least for now.
- Go for screen panels with either 60Hz or 120Hz refresh rate; 60 is good, but 120 is excellent. The refresh rate has a direct effect on the smoothness of motion of everything from TV series to movies to live sports and gaming.
- Try to find a TV with HDR support as HDR-equipped televisions offer better contrast and realistic colors.
- Find a TV with multiple HDMI ports; it is better if one port is HDMI 2.1.
- Lastly, OLED TVs are much better than LCD TVs, and at the same time, they are expensive. So, QLED TVs from brands like Samsung have become an affordable option.
These were some quick tips; now, let’s get started with the detailed guide.
TV buying guide
Screen Technologies: LCD, LED, QLED, and OLED
The screen forms the most crucial thing when it comes to selecting a TV. What’s more, while picking up a screen, there is a lot of variety available in the marketing in terms of panel technology. And the technologies which used to be relevant in the past days such as a plasma or even standard LCD aren’t famous anymore. On the contrary, new screen technologies have been introduced since that time. In fact, we have so many screens available nowadays that it is easy for buyers to become perplexed.
Therefore, we haven’t focused on old technologies in this piece. We are going to talk about the recent ones only. Let’s get started with the basic introduction about some of the screen technologies available in the market.
Note: Don’t stress much about LCDs now, as their time has long gone. As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to find CCFL-backlit LCD TVs nowadays. This part is mentioned for educational purposes.
Liquid Crystal Displays were the next big thing in the market after the downfall of the cathode ray tube (CRT) technology. Initially, the LCD used to feature a standard liquid display. But soon after, that was replaced by CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlighting. The latter made the LCDs more affordable. At the same time, it is less energy efficient when compared to the LED backlighting. On top of that, the CCFL isn’t as bright as standard liquid displays.
LED, LED-LCD, and LED-backlit
Nowadays, TVs featuring LED-LCD (simply LED) owns the lion’s share of the television market. It is essentially the same liquid crystal display with light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting.
The addition of LEDs has various benefits. For instance, these TVs are generally slimmer with smaller bezels around the screen. That’s not all; LED also offers a better viewing experience. Plus, it is also energy efficient when compared to CCFL backlighting. All of this makes the LED-LCD the most popular form screen in the market today. Hence, most users find themselves buying an LED-LCD TV.
Quantum Dot, generally referred to as QLED, is a screen technology that makes use of the quantum dots to produce colored light (Quantum dots is a type of semiconductor). The QLEDs features a layer of quantum dots that are believed to enhance brightness and colors on the TV.
QLEDs are considered to be better than your regular LED-LCD screens. Moreover, their performance is close to that of OLED screens but not precisely the same.
The term QLED was made famous by Samsung. And from the time of its introduction, the company has been promoting it heavily. In fact, the company has used this tech in some of its high-end TVs.
Luckily, the pricing of televisions with this screen technology is not as high as that of OLED TVs, in most cases.
Organic Light Emitting Diode, aka OLED, is the best screen technology available in the market today. OLED TVs are said to have the best black levels. In other words, areas of the screen that are black are able to switch off completely, even while other parts of the screen are not, resulting in deep blacks and excellent contrast.
OLED makes use of individual organic pixels, which produces light when the electric current is passed through them.
As previously discussed, OLED TVs are the most expensive TVs. Therefore, if you are looking to buy one, be ready to spend a considerable sum of money. However, if you can spend that amount, you will arguably get the best screen available commercially with the best colors and contrast.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to OLED panels; they tend to have issues like burn-in after prolonged usage.
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If you already have passed the screen technologies, the very next thing to keep in mind is the resolution of the screen. Your visual preferences will determine what resolution you need, and this depends to a certain degree on the size of the screen you select. But before talking about the screen sizes. Let’s go through the specifics of the various options in terms of screen resolution.
HD or HD-Ready (1280×720 pixels or 720p)
HD or HD-Ready is the most basic resolution typically available on affordable TVs. It is usually regarded to be the entry-level specification. This resolution is generally used in smaller screen sizes. As a result, it is widely seen on 32-inch TVs too. It is not typically used on large TVs because when you increase the screen size, the HD-Ready resolution can offer low image quality. Hence, it’s HD or HD-Ready is limited to small sizes in typical cases.
Full-HD (1920×1080 pixels or 1080p)
Full-HD is the happy medium of screen size, fitting perfectly well between HD-Ready and 4K. With 1920×1080 pixels, full-HD is sufficient enough for most things. Moreover, a large percentage of cable and satellite TV media available today prefer this resolution. It is also the most typical resolution in the present failing Blu Ray format.
4K (3840×2160 pixels)
The most pixels widely available on today’s TVs, the 4K resolution provides a clearer view, but that’s what is expected after all 4K means four times as many pixels as full-HD displays. While 4K content was difficult to obtain a few years ago, but nowadays, almost every online streaming platform like Netflix, Amazon is offering content in 4k. What’s more, 4K is also perfectly suited for gaming, offering a top-notch gaming experience.
Companies have also introduced a successor of 4K (UHD) resolution called 8K or UHD-2. If we go into details about 8K resolution, it has about 8,000 columns horizontally, or 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. All these pixels are spread over the display panel in the standard 16:9 format. To be exact, there are approximately 33.2 million pixels disturbed on the display. It is about four times higher than 4K and 16 times more than Full HD.
Note: 8K is also available in the market nowadays, but 8K content is not available in huge quantity so it better to not to over spend by buying an 8K TV.
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Which screen size to choose?
It is often said that the bigger the screen size, the better, but it must be kept in mind that it shouldn’t be too big. As you don’t want to move your neck too much to watch TV, so buy a size that suits your viewing area. What’s more, TVs are available in several sizes to fit every use case, with 24-inch being the smallest option available. It might be the case that you find an even smaller TV, but it is less likely to be from a reputed brand.
Nevertheless, people often go for 32 inches, though users have also started shifting towards screen size around 40 inches as well. In case if you want a large screen, you can go for 49-inches or maybe 55-inches.
Overall, screen sizes between 32 to 55-inches covers the bulk of the TV purchases, but we do have TVs with dimensions equal to 65-inch, 75-inch, and 85-inch from some brands. Moreover, some brands have even larger TVs, but those are not commonly seen.
All-in-all, when it comes to screen sizes, it depends on the size of the TV where you want to place the TV. Specifically, it depends on the distance between the TV and your seating arrangements. Here is the size guide depending on the viewing distance between the sitting position and the television.
|Three to Five feet||32-inch|
|Five to six feet||40-inch|
|Five to seven feet||49-inch|
|Six to eight feet||55-inch|
|Eight to ten feet||65-inch|
In case if you have an even larger room with a viewing distance higher than twelve feet, you can go for even larger screen sizes. Or you can buy a projector.
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High Dynamic Range (HDR) refers to the ability of the TV to playback supported content with a greater dynamic range, wider color gamut, as well as brighter and cleaner visuals. An essential quality of HDR video is better contrast within the same frame, allowing for deep blacks and bright colors in different parts of the frame simultaneously. In fact, better colors and lighting, darker blacks, and a general improvement in visual efficiency make this a must-have for consumers trying to get the best out of their TVs, even though high-quality HDR panels do cost a decent amount.
There are two main formats within HDR: HDR 10/HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision. The former has a color depth of 10 bits. The latter, developed by Dolby, is superior on paper with a color depth of 12-bits but supports backward compatibility with the HDR 10 format. The format is backed by LG, TCL, and Sony, among others.
Much as mobile phones have given birth to smartphones, the idea of smart TV is a reality. And just as smartphones benefit from full-fledged Internet connections and links to software and services, smart TVs have the same amount of connectivity.
A Smart TV is one that can connect to the internet and get content and services instantly. It doesn’t need an additional gadget such as a set-top box, a USB drive, or a streaming dongle.
Smart TVs have built-in applications that enable the TV to access content through the internet. A number of TVs will also have an Internet browser installed to allow users to access websites on their wide TV screens. TV makers also use various smart operating systems and overlays for their TVs. Most of which arrive with support for different applications and utilities. Plus, smart TVs are expressly designed for ease of navigation with regular TV remotes. Popular video platforms, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube, have special applications tailored for some smart TV systems that give users direct access to these services.
TV vendors use various technologies, and each smart TV has its specific user interface. The most popular OS include Android TV, Samsung’s Tizen, LG’s WebOS, and Xiaomi’s PatchWall. On the other hand, the likes of Sony, Philips, Sharp, TCL, and Vu have many of their smart TV models on the Google-developed Android TV platform. Interestingly, Google TV is generally known as the best for its extensive support of applications and services. Other makers use modified skins on top of a standard Android operating system or license platforms such as Roku or Fire TV.
Although the utility of smart TV is not disputed, consumers can still convert their TVs to Smart TV using a streaming dongle instead of buying one. They can do the same by using popular devices including the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast range, and Apple TV. These gadgets are typically small enough to stay hidden and conveniently connect to your TV. And make your TV capable of accessing the internet and get content online.
Sound quality is another thing that you might want to consider while buying a television. And if you are not going to connect some external speakers to your TV, you have to focus on how a TV sounds. It is straightforward to check the sound quality of a TV set. What you have to do is just play a couple of loud action scenes and pay attention to the following things.
- The harshness of sound at high volumes or when there is a lot going on.
- If there is any bass to round out explosions or earthquakes if it is there, is it clean or muffled?
- If the sound from the speakers offer you subtle details, or is it dense and squashed.
- Do the voices sound realistic and clean even if there is a lot of noise in a scene.
Besides the things mentioned above, check for phutting of speakers and cabinet rattle or buzz under pressure.
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What is the right time to buy a new TV?
This might be the most critical question to ask yourself. You don’t want to be in a spot where you purchased a set for some amount, and the pricing gets reduced after some weeks. It is critical for you to understand when the time is right to buy a new TV as TV prices vary a lot throughout the year. And in most cases, if you are willing to hold off for a few months before buying a new technology that is hot off the production line. You will end up saving big bucks.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind when trying to get a TV for the best price possible. If you follow the below mentioned things you might save some money.
Discounts on previous year models
In normal circumstances, TV manufacturers look to replace a model after a year, similar to what Apple does to its iPhones. So you can get the previous year’s models for a fraction of the price of a new model. What’s more, without a doubt, the latest models will be better than the older models. However, this growth is often incremental. In other words, you might get the same viewing experience with the last year’s set instead of buying a new one with some features here and there.
Besides going for the previous year’s models, you should also look for discounts from the retailed. There is a season or two in India throughout the year, particularly around Diwali, when the retailer provides huge discounts.
Furthermore, online e-commerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart have their own festive season where they offer bargains. Thus, make sure you are making the most of these sales.
Bonus Tip: 3D TVs are a thing of the past
While 3D TVs were a big deal a few years ago, the trend has since been less popular. 3D material has never been widely available. Plus, the need for special lenses, which also resulted in headaches and eye damage for consumers, has made it physically stressful.
The lack of demand for technology has ensured that the idea of 3D TV has disappeared entirely from the functionality of most new TVs. On the other hand, more recent innovations such as HDR and smart networking are attracting more popularity.
This concludes our TV buying guide.
Buying a TV is no longer a simple task, with so many varieties available in the market. It has become a demanding task that requires knowledge of various technologies, terminologies, and more. In fact, if you don’t research well before buying a TV, chances are you might end up paying for something that won’t be up to date to the market or won’t serve you well for longer. In other words, it won’t be future proof.
As a result, you should keep in mind the above-mentioned things and choose a TV that fits your needs perfectly.
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