A new TV can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the brand, model and its technological capabilities. Knowing what you want is important.
Buying the most expensive TV doesn’t mean you’re going to get the best quality. Some features and functions come standard, while others aren’t yet necessary or applicable.
It also pays to understand whether your new TV comprises a complex or easy-to-use interface or menu. This is particularly helpful information if you have children, teenagers or older adults who may not understand intricate instructions.
What types of TVs are available?
LED/LCD. LED stands for “light-emitting diode”. This refers to the way in which your TV’s display is projected. LEDs are the backlights used to illuminate a liquid crystal display (LCD). This can be confusing as previously many TVs were made with LCD displays that used fluorescent backlighting. Now, most new TV sets are LED/LCD (or newer OLED and QLED). LED displays are more energy-efficient, run at a cooler temperature and are generally narrower in size with flat-screen displays.
OLED. OLEDs or “organic light-emitting diodes” use organic compounds that light up when electrified. Their panels are much smaller, thinner and more flexible than most other display technologies. This means that they can be used in the production of curved screens or foldable/roll-up displays. LG Display is the sole manufacturer of OLED panels for televisions. QLED. A “quantum dot light emitting diode” or QLED uses quantum dots (micro-sized conducting nanocrystals) in tandem with an LED backlight to display bright, vibrant and varying colours that help to emphasise high-quality content.
ULED. ULED or “ultra light-emitting diodes” separates backlight LED panels into 240 separate zones. ULED is not the same as OLED technology. It is an LED/LCD TV that also uses quantum dots. The term ULED is exclusive to Chinese manufacturer Hisense.
QUHD. QUHD or “quantum ultra high definition” is a marketing catch-phrase for manufacturer TCL’s use of quantum dot LED/LCD panels.
Most new televisions are considered “smart TVs”. These models allow users to connect their device to the Internet in order to stream on-demand content, browse the web, play online games and run different apps or programs. They often feature built-in Wi-Fi but some may require an external ethernet connection. Most new TVs arrive with smart TV interfaces pre-installed. Some companies have developed their own, unique platforms for their TVs.
You can buy set-top boxes to connect to your TV, which enables it to operate as a smart TV.
To avoid streaming hiccups or interruptions, check to see if your router’s wireless signal can reach your television set.
To help you take advantage of this technology, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 smart TV features.
This interface is designed for content discovery and voice search assistance. Android TV surfaces content from connected apps and allows users to navigate options via their phones.
Android TV allows users to access all types of content, even if it’s not approved by developer Google. This platform can run game emulators, apps and function as a media player for digital content.
This operating system is utilised by LG smart TVs. It has been designed to work in tandem with the Magic Remote. New LG TVs are integrated with ThinQ AI and Google Assistant.
This minimalistic interface has extensive customisation features and simple functionality. You can create personal folders for individual users, pin apps to the home screen and binge-watch your favourite series using the catch-up support services. It’s a powerful and practical system.
This platform contains horizontal, scrolling icons that display channels, settings and other options. VIDAA U is relatively simple to use and easily customisable.
The system supports most major streaming platforms and apps.
Samsung’s operating system is designed for an Internet-connected viewing experience, allowing users to access multiple apps, services and personal media, all while watching TV.
The Smart Hub interface supports deep-search and screen sharing for compatible devices.
Resolution refers to the number of pixels that your TV can display. A pixel is a small dot that, when illuminated, produces specific colours. If your TV has the capacity to hold a large number of pixels then images on the screen will generally appear in greater detail. Although resolution isn’t the only attribute that affects picture quality, it does play a key role.
8K7,680 x 4,3208K isn’t widely available and won’t have any greater impact on viewing experience unless you have a significantly large screen.
1,920 x 1,080
If you want to avoid purchasing a quickly dated TV set it’s best to opt for 4K resolution as this is now the current standard.
4K or UHD
3,840 x 2,160
Most new TVs have 4K resolution, which is sometimes referred to as Ultra High Definition (UHD). Higher resolution can improve the viewing experience on larger screens. 4K TVs are usually compatible with high-dynamic range (HDR), which enhances a display’s contrast ratio, making bright colours brighter and dark colours darker and providing greater image detail in the shades between these spectrums.
7,680 x 4,320
8K isn’t widely available and won’t have any greater impact on viewing experience unless you have a significantly large screen.
How to compare TVs
When considering how much to spend on a new television, it’s important to understand your viewing needs. What type of content do you intend to play? What size screen would be sufficient? Which devices are you likely to connect to your TV?
Here are some important features to consider:
Larger screens are ideal for family viewing in a lounge setting, while smaller size screens are better suited to bedrooms. The closer you sit to your TV, the more you’ll notice pixelation. However, high-quality 4K displays allow you to sit closer without compromising quality.
Many manufacturers are opting to meet the demand for thinner, lighter displays, reducing the amount of available space for speakers. This means that for many TV buyers, soundbars are an essential accessory.
Most new televisions are equipped with smart TV interfaces and allow users to access streaming video platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, hayu, iTunes and more. The specific services you’ll have access to depends on the TV brand and the country you live in.
Wall mounting can offer a more optimal and comfortable line of sight for extended viewing and allow for more space, potentially eliminating the need for a TV cabinet. Most modern TVs are designed to be wall-mounted and often come with brackets. However, this is not guaranteed so it’s important to check before you buy.
All TVs should come with a remote control. Look at all the user controls the remote offers, check if the buttons are big enough, find out if it’s backlit for night-time use and determine if it’s easy to use – particularly for children. If not, you could buy a separate universal remote that better suits your needs.
If you want to be able to connect your TV to your computer, gaming systems or other devices, check to see how many HDMI ports your TV offers. Also keep in mind that the location of the ports may affect your TV set-up, as ports that stick out from the back are difficult to access when a TV is wall mounted.
Smart home integration and voice control
Some TVs offers built-in access to Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant so that you can control your smart home using your TV or control your TV using a smart speaker.
These types of screens can offer an enhanced sense of depth and improved immersion, given the way they wrap around your line of sight. Curved TVs look futuristic look, but the curve can amplify reflections, limit viewing angles and be awkward to mount. They also need to be quite large in order to be effective.
The success of the film Avatar, released in 2009, sparked a demand for in-home 3D TV experiences. In the intervening years, this feature seems to have lost most of its appeal. 3D viewing usually requires the watcher to wear unique (and often uncomfortable) glasses.
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Sarah Brandon is an editor at Finder. She has a degree in Psychology from New York University and loves learning about why people do what they do. Sarah has researched and written about a wide range of topics, from pool fences to private jets to personal loans. But no matter the subject, her number one priority is figuring out what information our readers need to make the best decisions.
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