If you’ve ever browsed the TV section of any home entertainment store, it can be overwhelming. Before you head in store to find the right TV for you, brush up on your tech talk with this simple crash course.
“When buying a new television, it is important to make a list of ‘must-haves’ so you can compare these against the TV units you’re considering. It is also essential to approach your buying experience with an understanding of the current technology, as this will help better inform your decision,” says Hisense Australia’s TV expert, Chris Mayer.
Resolution is a fancy word for picture quality. The general choice when it comes to resolution is between HD, 4K and 8K and as a general rule the more pixels used, the clearer the image.
HD is also referred to as 1920 x 1080 and has been the industry standard for a while now. Uses 2 million pixels.
4K is also referred to as Ultra HD. It is the most popular choice at the moment and quite literally has 4 times the number of pixels of HD (8 million pixels). While not everything is shown in 4K just yet, particularly video content and Live TV, streaming platforms like Netflix and Stan are already on board.
8K is the latest technology and is set to dethrone 4K eventually but this is still a while away. Uses 33 million pixels.
Smart TV’s have built-in programs like Netflix, Spotify, and Google Assistant. Most TV’s are already smart TV’s so it’s unlikely this will factor into your buying.
This is a feature of 4K TVs and goes a step beyond resolution to make the image and colours pop. To make the most of 4K you should pair it with HDR (High Dynamic Range) which luckily you can do on most streaming sites. There are three main choices:
HDR10 – basic standard.
HDR10+ – Samsungs version of HDR and can only be used on their TVs. Compatible with Amazon Prime.
Dolby Vision – Most popular and advanced at this point but can only be used with specific hardware but it's been around longest so has more content that supports it.
When buying a TV you'll hear terms like LED, LCD, OLED, QLED and ULED. These terms refer to how the screen is lit up which determines picture quality. The market is made up mostly of LCD and OLED, with the former the most popular and the latter more expensive.
LED is the technology that allows for your television to be thinner and produce images that are much more vivid. This is because of the backlight that comes from the TV, creating a sleeker sharper look for your entertainment experience.
These TVs use LED to illuminate the screen but are heavier and thicker TVs. Worst case scenario they can show image imperfection when watching fast-moving content like sports. Prices vary on these models.
These TVs don’t require a backlight but rather have dozens of lighting zones. OLED is the best TV picture you’ll come across, especially if watching at night. However, it’s unclear how well the screens fare over time and they are usually very, very expensive.
There is also QLED to consider and this one is a sneaky combo of the two. QLED TVs are apparently an older version of LCD technology. They're the brightest of the three TVs are great for a sunny room and day time viewing. They sit in the middle for price point.
ULED + Dual Cell
ULED is Hisense’s brand of 4K LED LCD TVs and Dual Cell is their TV technology. It has two LCD layers and enhances and controls the dimming zones.
While this decision is best left up to the buyer, it’s worth noting that the sweet spot for a TV screen is between 55 and 65 inches. This size won’t overcrowd your living room but is big enough for the whole fam to see from various spots in the room.
“A TV with poor placement makes for uncomfortable viewing, while the wrong size TV for the room can not only be overbearing in the space but also severely impact the viewing experience,” says Chris.
Tip! Chris defines the sweet spot to be a 4-metre viewing distance from couch to TV.
Wall mount or stand
If a simple and decluttered lounge room free of wires and cords is your choice, a wall-mounted TV is perfect for you. However, if you're a storage lover then an entertainment unit will allow for extra space, and they're much easier to assemble.
Movement is known as refresher rate and is how many times per second a picture is refreshed on the screen.
If you’re watching an action movie or sport with lots of movement then a slow refresher (60 Hz) rate will make the screen blurry. The best bet is getting a TV with 120 Hz and nothing less but the higher the number the smoother the image.
As TVs become thinner and thinner, the sound suffers the most so investing in a soundbar will make the world of difference. If you want a totally immersive and cinematic experience at home go for a Home Theatre System instead, though it will be pricier.
Many manufactures cut down on costs by creating less HDMI ports, so look for at least four. If you’re wondering what HDMI ports are, they’re the holes to plug in DVD players, USB’s, Chromecasts, gaming consoles and sound bars into (see there’s five things there).
Expect to pay a minimum of $500 for a 4k, 55-inch television, and $200 for a soundbar.
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