2017 TV Buying Guide – 8 Important Factors To Consider
With the increasing amount of brilliant content available on Netflix and cable, the need to own a ‘right’ television has become all the more important. The thrill of watching great shows can be realized only when you watch them on great TVs.
By great TVs I don’t necessarily mean the 4K TVs or Smart TVs, but the ones which are perfectly suited to your needs and the content you are going to watch most of the time. When people go out there to buy a new television, most do not go deep enough into the specifications.
I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to buy a product (especially one that cost upwards of hundreds or thousands of dollars) and then regret the decision at a later stage. That is why it is important to know a little more than just the basics when you go out there to purchase a new television.
But all these jargons thrown at you when you visit the store can be confusing, right?
Through this article, I aim to acquaint you with a few important aspects of television sets that every prospective television buyer should know. It is not advisable to always rely on what the sales people in the showroom would care to tell you and do not make the mistake of believing that an expensive product is always better.
Focus on the aspects mentioned below in this new 2017 guide, and make an informed choice for your next TV.
How Big Should The Screen Size Be?
This is one aspect that you would already thought through and have some ideas on.
The size of the TV screen is usually decided on the basis of the size of the wall and the distance from which you would be viewing it. You have to make sure that the TV is smaller than or can fit into your available space.
If you are placing a TV in your living room, with a huge wall and greater viewing distance, you might want to opt for a larger (60 inch?) screen.
The ‘ideal’ screen size might also differ depending on whether you want to hang it on the wall, or place it on the TV stand.
When it comes to deciding the ideal screen size, it’s advisable to always go back to the measuring tape to understand the largest size that can fit in that space and the smallest size that you are willing to accept before shopping around for a TV in that range.
My recommendation is as follows:
- At least 40 inches for a bedroom TV
- At least 55 inches for a living room TV
What Is The Ideal Screen Resolution?
A HDTV comes with 720 pixels and is considered one of the basic screen resolutions at this time. (Note: Pixels are defined as picture elements, or tiny dots, making up the picture in the T.V.)
HDTV offers you a decent picture quality. If the viewing distance is not great (approximately 1.5-2.5 metres max), you can consider going for a HDTV as these are available at very affordable prices and can offer you a decent viewing experience.
For a picture quality better than HDTV, you can opt for a Full HDTV, which has 1080 pixels. They offer you greater field of view, even when viewing from a greater distance, and the price difference between the two isn’t even that much. If budget permits, you should ideally go for Full HD at least.
*Moving beyond Full HD, we now also have Ultra HD TVs available, these are the 4K television sets, which will be discussed in later sections of this article.
LCD/ LED/ OLED – Which One?
It has been quite some time since plasma TVs became outdated. After Plasma TVs came the LCD TVs (in full: Liquid Crystal Display). These were slim, affordable and were available in HD and HD ready. They were back-lit by CCFLs, and have now been replaced by LEDs.
LEDs are the Light Emitting Diode TVs, which have become a norm today, much like Full HDTVs. LEDs are from the LCD family; the main difference is in their advanced back-lighting, which makes LED TVs look great in all types of environmental lighting. You will get an amazing viewing experience regardless of whether you watch them in a dark room or a well lit room.
These are sleek, stylish, and a little more expensive then LCDs. An LCD with LED back-lighting and 1080p, is often marketed as an LED T.V.
The advancement is not limited to LED TVs only, because today we have OLED TVs as well (in full: Organic Light Emitting Diode TVs).
These are ahead of LEDs in almost all aspects, the picture quality is better, there is no back-lighting, they can offer sharper images, irrespective of the lighting, and are also very expensive. These are extremely thin, and delicate, their screens can get damaged very easily, and they have a limited life span.
Smart TV or Not?
The “Internet of Things” is exemplified here when even TVs today have also become ‘smart’ and can be connected to the internet.
With a smart TV you can view content from online streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. You can also get access to popular sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc, on your TV as long as it is connected to the internet or your home Wi-Fi.
Through a smart TV you can also play online games, or subscribe to online music streaming services like Spotify or Pandora. Heck, it can also provide you with a full web browser access, or a point – click remote control, which allow hand gestures to manage on-screen movements. The best of smart TVs also have the option of voice recognition.
Whether or not you choose to buy a smart TV, you should definitely buy a one with sufficient connectivity options.
Apart from connecting the television to a satellite dish or a DVD, you might want to connect with a blue ray, streaming media players or a play station. You should always make sure that the TV you buy comes with sufficient HDMI ports, so that it can be used for multiple other purposes. One or two USB slots are common, but there should be no less than four HDMI slots (else you might have to buy an HDMI switcher later).
Apart from sufficient HDMI slots, you should also ensure that HDMI cables you are using are high – speed, these cables can transfer visual and audio through a single picture. Compromising on the quality of the cable will also compromise on the quality of the transfer. The more advanced your television set, the better the cable should be.
In-case you have an ultra HD or a 4K TV, you will need cables with higher transfer speed and greater bandwidth, for continuous surfing of 4K videos. If you need to connect your TV with objects at a distance, then you would need a longer and better cable, to transfer content over longer distances.
Consider Before Rushing into 4K or Ultra HD
Any screen resolution greater than Full HD, is called Ultra HD or 4K. This comes with a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 Pixels, which gives it 8 million pixels per image! It’s really an understatement to say that 4K gives sharper images than Full HD.
Here’s a nerd fact: The image resolution of ultra HD is four times the image resolution of full HD!
It is so advanced that there is insufficient native content available for a 4K TV. The amount of content available for 4K is certainly expanding, but these TVs continue to be exorbitant, and we still do not have a Blu ray player dedicated to ultra HD. Good news for gamers though: The gaming options in 4K are aplenty.
Although a lot of films and television shows are shot in 4K, we still mostly see them in HD. This is because the circulation of 4K content, for some reason, does not follow the conventional circulation path. It will not be directed to television sets directly. Instead, they will first be available online, then on discs, following which it goes to satellites and eventually reaches your TV sets.
If you are more into online streaming on a smart TV, you should opt for a 4K TV, since many of the shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services are being shot on 4K. YouTube also provides access to videos which are shot in ultra HD.
Although we advise going for the 4K option only if you are absolutely sure that you need it, it’s interesting to note that 8K is being rolled out in several markets.
Think before Opting for a Curved TV.
Much like you should think about whether or not you need 4K, you should also ask yourself if you really need a curved TV.
Many people do not realize this, but curved TV sets come with a viewing limitation. Whether you place a curved TV in a big room or small, your viewing range will get limited. Curved TVs can only be viewed by sitting right in front of the screen, because of its curved edges, those sitting on the sides, facing the edge, will not be able to view the complete screen.
These TVs sure look gorgeous when placed in a living room or a bedroom, but your guests might not have the best great viewing experience. Also these are fairly expensive, so buying them without proper thought might not make sense.
Brand and Budget
Today you can find innumerable brands selling their own television sets, however a few continue to be the top players. Sony, Samsung, LG, etc are few of the brands which have longstanding reputation for producing television sets of great quality and value.
LG electronics is a master of OLED TVs and Sony has mastered 4K TVs. Smart TVs, HDTVs are now quite basic, and almost all brands can offer you quality products in this segment.
Another very important factor that will determine the choice of your brand will be your budget. The higher your budget, the better will be the brand you opt for.