There are a lot of different buzz words and technology options you’ll come across when looking for a new TV.   When my parents recently asked my advice on what to buy, I realised just how much technology had changed since I last looked at buying a TV!  Actually – I don’t own a TV and haven’t for a long time – instead we have a projector, but I’ll get to that later!

So, what should you be looking out for and what’s the best option for the money?

Well, my first advice is to set a budget.   Televisions range from a few hundred dollars, to many thousands of dollars.   It’s easy to get sucked into spending more and more for additional features that you don’t need.

It’s also important to know what size you’re looking for. Prices rise as the size goes up, so it’s important to know what sizes fit within your budget.   Are you going to be sitting close to the TV?   If so, size isn’t necessarily as important.  The further away you are, the larger you’ll want the screen to be.   Most TVs start at around 32” but can go up to around 65”.   Note that the measurement is the diagonal distance from corner to corner (not including any bezel, but these days bezels are pretty minimal anyway).

Most TVs are smart TVs, so don’t let this sway your decision.  In fact, I prefer having an external box like an Apple TV or Roku to handle this as it means it’s easier to upgrade, however it does tend to keep things neat and simple when integrated into the TV.   What’s a smart TV you ask?  It means having the ability to stream internet content such as Netflix, YouTube etc.  I’d be surprised if you could find a TV today that doesn’t have some form of Netflix streaming built in already!  And there are other streaming platforms being announced this year, such as Disney’s new platform, and supposedly one from Apple, so it’s important to know if these new channels can be added to your smart TV.

How about resolution?  HD? Full HD? 4K? 8K!!?  What do these all mean?

HD stands for High Definition, and it relates to how clear the picture quality is.   Before HD came about, TVs had a resolution of 480 scan lines.   This was the number of horizontal lines that made up the picture.  The lines were projected onto the screen by a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) that shone a light on the screen to make the image.   When flat screen TVs came out, they replaced the bulky CRT with thousands of small dots (known as pixels) that individually lit up to generate the image.

A HD TV had 1280 x 720 pixels (for a total of 921,600) per screen.  Next was full HD also known as 1080p.  This was a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (2,073,600) per screen.   This was the standard for years, until recently 4K emerged with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 (2,073,600) pixels.

Today, most new TVs (especially larger ones) are 4K resolution, however it’s important to note that the picture you’re going to be watching is only going to be Full HD (1080p)!   Why is this?   Well the TV manufacturers are ahead of the game!   Even though 4K is everywhere, there isn’t really any 4K content take advantage of these new higher resolutions.

Take for example, Netflix.   They have a few 4K ready programs you can stream now, but to do this, you’ll need a minimum Internet speed of 25Mbps!   You’re probably getting a maximum of 5-10Mbps which is only enough to stream 1080p.

So 4K is a good thing to have for future proofing, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to take advantage of it for a few years yet.

The same goes for HDR or High-Dynamic-Range.   This is another feature tied to 4K that offers an enhanced picture quality related to the colours of the picture.   It gives darker darks, and brighter lights than a traditional TV, but as with 4K, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to take advantage of this for a few years.

There are a number of different technologies when it comes to buying a new TV.  LCD, OLED, QLED, Micro LED, Quantum Dot..   The list goes on….  I’m not going to explain the different technologies here.   Instead I’ll go back to what I initially said – decide on a budget.  Once you have a budget (and size) in mind, go to a store and see how the different TVs look.   TV picture quality is a personal preference, and everyone has a different perspective on what looks good and what doesn’t.   Choose one that works for you and don’t get pushed into spending money on something that doesn’t make a difference or can’t be used fully until years from now.

Oh, and I mentioned we have a projector!  These give you a much larger picture for your money but can only really be used in a dark room.  This works for us and also has the advantage of virtually disappearing from the room when not in use!  It’s not for everyone, but it might be worth a look instead of a TV.

Until next time, don’t be overwhelmed by the options available. Know your budget and get TV hunting!