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Not since the T.G.I.F show block aired in 1989 has there been such a Golden Age of Television like today. Also, with college and pro football being aired six out of seven nights per week, there’s never been a better time to upgrade your TV.
If you’re not too tech-savvy, you might find the process of picking a new TV set to be daunting with a plethora of terms like HDR, OLED or 4K. Fear not, dear reader. Here is a quick rundown of what to look for and what to avoid in order to pick the perfect TV and ensure that you’ll never want to leave your living room ever again.
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All right, let’s tackle the most important decision of television buying: choosing the correct screen size. The main factor to consider when picking a size is how large your living room is and how far from the screen you will be sitting. Personal preference plays a role here and in most decisions for television buying, but a simple way to determine a decent size for your TV is:
(Feet from TV ÷ 1.6) x 12 = TV Screen Size
So, if you want to sit nine feet from your screen, you’d need about a 68" screen TV to maximize your field of view. You might think that bigger is always better for something like a TV, but if you’ve ever sat too close to the front of an IMAX theater, you know this is not the case.
Some other factors to consider when picking a TV size are cost and picture quality. Obviously, a larger TV is going to be more expensive. Also, you’ll want a higher quality picture for a larger screen since lower definition would be more visible. Plus, keep in mind how much wall space is available if you do decide to mount your new TV on a wall.
HD vs Ultra HD (4K)
Now we get to screen resolution, which is the sharpness of the TV’s picture. Currently, you have two options: Standard HD and Ultra HD. The above image compares the amount of pixels available in each screen resolution. The more pixels, the sharper and more detailed the picture looks.
You might be thinking, “Well, Ultra looks better than Standard so I should go with that, right?” Well, maybe.
One major downside to 4K is that it’s relatively new, so there’s not a lot of content available in that format. Broadcast, Cable and dish TV don’t yet have any channels in 4K and it might be a while before they do. 4K streaming content also requires a very fast and reliable internet connection. Also, 4K TVs cost several hundred dollars more than their HD counterparts.
You should probably wait until more 4K programming is available and 4K TVs become more affordable before making the upgrade. Also, 8K TVs are just around the corner as well…
LED vs OLED
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There are a handful of TV types available today including Plasma, LCD, LED and OLED. Years ago, there were quite a few more options which made purchasing even more of a headache. However, Plasma TVs are virtually off the market, and LCD screens aren’t great for viewing from an angle so for the purposes of this guide, we’ll compare LED and OLED models.
LED and OLED are similar in how they work. Instead of a conventional fluorescent backlight, these TVs use Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights for backlighting. This dramatically improves picture contrast, colors and overall picture. They also use about 40% less electricity than other models. OLEDs are a little different since their backlights are made from an organic material that glows when electricity is ran through it. These lights can also be turned completely off, providing darker blacks and higher picture contrast.
However, OLEDs are much more expensive than LEDs and don’t work well in rooms with a lot of natural light since they’re more susceptible to glare. Save money and sacrifice virtually no quality and go with LED here.
Other Features To Avoid / Look For
You’d be best to skip out on these additional TV features:
- Curved Screen: More expensive, doesn’t enhance picture, hard to view from an angle.
- 3D TV: Requires 3D glasses, expensive, doesn’t really improve the viewing experience anyway.
- Smart TV: Over two-thirds of TVs are already Smart TVs. If you can find one without, you’ll save money if you already have a streaming service like Chromecast, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick.
- Extended Warranty: LED TVs are built to last (well over 40,000 hours!) and if there were any problems with your TV, they would likely occur within the manufacturer’s warranty coverage period. Save your money here.
Finally, while current TVs are the most advanced they’ve ever been in terms of picture, they’ve sacrificed sound quality. A thinner screen does not allow for larger, high-quality speakers to be built in. However, you can always get a decently-priced soundbar or a surround sound system to really improve upon the factory TV speakers’ quality.
While you have a lot of choices when it comes to a new TV, you should now have a better idea of what features are right for you. Happy viewing!