Buying a TV can be a pretty daunting task for a non-technical person, considering that you have to take care of a number of aspects to round up on the best-buy. From deciding on the size to analyzing aspects of picture quality, resolution, viewing angle and most modern features like Smart TV technology, there are numerous decisions to make and all quite confusing too.
That is why we decided to do an in-depth buyers guide analyzing the most important features and aspects to take care of while buying a TV and presenting it so that any lay man can understand it easily.
How To Choose A TV For Your Home?
- Ensure that the distance between the TV and the couch is double the screen size. For an Ultra HD TV, the screen size should ideally be 2/3rd of the viewing distance.
- If you want to future proof your TV, opt for an Ultra HD smart TV that is HDR compatible.
- OLED and QLED TVs offer a better viewing experience in terms of visual quality but are quite expensive compared to LED TVs.
- If you are keen on gaming, watching movies and series from streaming apps, then opt for a smart TV.
- Ideally, buy a TV with at least 3 HDMI ports. If buying an Ultra HD TV, ensure the ports are HDCP compatible so that it’s suitable for future HD sources.
- Curved TVs have disadvantages that outweigh the advantages. They are redundant these days.
- An external speaker or sound bar is a wise investment if you want to achieve a completely immersive viewing experience.
Now, let us take a look at each aspect in detail.
Perhaps the first decision to make is what screen size to choose. Bigger might seem better, as you have more features and options in larger TVs. But that might be at the cost of your eye’s health.
First of all, you may have to know that TV size is measured diagonally from one corner to the diagonally opposite corner. And screen resolution plays an important role in deciding the screen size right for your room. The higher the resolution, the closer you can sit before you notice pixelation in an image.
As per experts, for a comfortable yet immersive experience, an HD TV should be kept at a distance double the screen size. So, if you buy a 32 inch HD TV, then it should be kept at a viewing distance of 64 inches (~5.5 ft) away from you.
If on the other hand, you are buying a 4k ultra HD TV, then accounting for the increased resolution, the recommended viewing distance is 1.5 times the screen size. So, for a 32 inch 4k HDTV, the viewing distance would be 48 inches (4 ft.).
This one is kind of easy as presently, most manufacturers are focusing solely on LED TVs. Plasma and LCD have become obsolete these days.
The other two display technologies found in high-end TVs are OLED and QLED. Let us take a look at each.
QLED: Refers to LED TVs that used Quantum dots to improve the picture quality. If you are looking for a technical explanation, you can take a look at this article. As a viewer, the main difference is that compared to LED TVs, it has better black levels and can reproduce more colours.
OLED: Stands for Organic LED (Light Emitting Diode). The difference is mainly in the manufacturing process, as OLED is made of organic compound that light up when it is powered. A single OLED is the size of a pixel and hence, you have practically millions in a square inch depending on the screen resolution. OLED TVs are considered the best when it comes to picture quality.
You may also like our article about OLED Burn-in
Now, let us take a look at how OLED and QLED fare in terms of viewing experience.
Black Level: OLED offers better black level as each pixel can be individually lighted thus providing not only deeper blacks, but also better contrast and richer colours. QLED on the other hand still depends on backlight behind the panel and hence do not have control over individual pixels. Hence, in terms of black level and contrast, OLED is the winner.
Brightness: Being infused with quantum dots give QLED an edge in terms of brightness.
Viewing Angles: QLED TV have a common backlight and hence the colour and contrast diminishes as you move away from the center. For this reason the absolute center offers best viewing angle.
Due to individual lighting control over each pixel in OLEDs, the viewing angle is a lot wider in OLED TVs. Though QLEDs are improving in technology in terms of viewing angles, OLEDs still have an edge owing to superior technology.
Talking about the viewing angles, you will find that LED TV from LG, Sanyo etc comes with IPS ( In plane switching) technology which offers up to 178 degree viewing angle. So, if you are buying an LED TV for a wide room, it is better to opt for one with IPS Technology. Alternatively, you can opt for OLED TVs. Samsung on the other hand uses VA panel. They have better refresh rate and contrast. But color reproduction and viewing angles aren’t that great. Response rate of VA panels are also not as good as IPS panels.
Simply put, screen resolution is the number of pixels within an inch. So, when you hear the screen resolution is 1280 x 720, you have to understand that it means there are 1280 lines horizontally and 720 lines vertically within a square inch.
Three of the commonly found options are 720 p HD ready, 1080 full HD and 4k Ultra HD. Newer 8K TVs are also being made available by Samsung, TCL etc.
Let us understand what these terms mean and how it affects the picture quality.
In terms of resolution, 4k ultra HD> 1080 Full HD>720p HD ready. As you can guess, the price also follows the same pattern with 4k ultra HD being the most expensive and 720 p HD ready being the least.
The image below will help you understand at a glance about the difference between the three screen resolution quality.
720p HD ready TV has screen resolution of 1280 x 720, which means there are 1 million pixels per square inch. This screen resolution is not full high definition. However, if it receives input of 1080 pixels, the in-built digital tuner reduces it to 720 pixels, making it sufficient to watch HD TV channels. Most of HD ready TVs available today have less than 32-inch screen size and are apt if your TV use is limited to watching channels from Set Top Box.Price of a 32 inch HD ready TV starts from about Rs. 7000/-
Full HD( 1080p) TV has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which means there are 2 million pixels per square inch, thus giving you a more refined viewing experience. In addition to viewing channels from HD set top box, full HD TV offers an immersive experience for streaming apps like Netflix, Hotstar, Youtube and Prime. If opting for Full HD TV, it is better to go for screen size larger than 43 inches for an overall better experience. Price of a 43-inch full HD TV starts from about Rs. 20,000/-
4k or UltraHD has a screen resolution of 3820 x 2160 pixels, which means it has 8 million pixels per square inch. 4k TVs belong to the latest generation and come with plethora of features and offer highly immersive viewing experience. In addition to viewing HD TV channels from set top box and online streaming of apps, it is best for gaming, playing HD bluRay videos, watching high speed sports etc. Ultra HD is seen in TVs starting from screen size 43 inches and are mostly Smart TVs too. Price of 43-inch Ultra HD TV starts from about Rs. 25,000/-
When looking for 4K Ultra HD TV, a term that you may often come across is HDR ( High Dynamic Range).For a viewer, it means higher contrast, better brightness level and a wider colour pallete compared to Ultra HD TV without HDR. However, in order for you to view HDR content, both the source ( set top box) and the TV has to be HDR compatible. In India, most set top boxes don’t offer HDR content, so the HDR content will be rather limited to streaming apps like Netflix, Prime etc.
So, if you want to future proof your TV, opt for a Ultra HD TV with HDR technology.
Smart TVs have the capability to connect itself to internet through WiFi. They come pre-loaded with an operating system and can be used for viewing content from YouTube, Netflix, Hotstar and other streaming apps as well as for gaming and installing additional apps.
The main operating systems found in Smart TVs are:
Google TVs:Certified by Google, it gives access to apps through Google Play Store.
Android Based: Using Android base, the manufacturers add their own interface and softwares to make android based OS. They are usually pre-loaded with apps and doesn’t usually have access to complete list of apps in Play Store.
Tizen is the Operating Systems exclusively used by Samsung.
webOS is the Operating System exclusively used by LG.
When buying a Smart TV, ensure that it has minimum RAM 1 GB and at least 8GB internal storage. Of course, higher the RAM and storage, better!
Other features to look for are casting and mirroring capability from mobile phone and laptop; voice control; air mouse/remote (which acts as a mouse and cursor) and mobile phone control.
Smart TVs feature is available from 32 inch TVs and are nowadays available from Rs. 15,000/- in HD ready TVs and from Rs. 20,000/- in full HD TVs.
Refresh rate refers to the number of times an image changes per second on the screen. If you frequently use your TV for watching high-speed sports, action movies and for gaming, then opt for a TV with a refresh rate of at least 120 Hz. But the ones available in India come with a 60 Hz refresh rate only.
Note that if the specification says effective refresh rate 120 Hz, then, it means the actual frame rate is half of it. So, beware not to fall for such terms.
Ideally, opt for TV with at least 3 HDMI ports. If you use one for a game console, one for sound bar and one for Set Top Box, you would already exhaust 3. So, to avoid the inconvenience of frequently having to plug-in and plug-out the wires, opt for TV with at least 3 HDMI ports.
Now, if you plan to buy a Ultra HD TV, then ensure that the ports support HDMI 2.0 that are compatible with ultra HD sources.
Curved Or Not?
Curved TV unfortunately is more of a marketing gimmick and doesn’t really offer much of an advantage. The manufacturers claim that it offers a better immersive viewing experience. But its disadvantages like limited viewing angle and distorted images far outweigh the advantages. Hence, it is better not to opt for a curved TV until manufacturers come up with technology to overcome the disadvantages.
Ever since TVs started getting thinner, audio quality has been negatively affected. As there is not enough space for large speakers, you are robbed off the full rich soul. Don’t believe it? Try connecting your TV to a high-quality head phone and compare the audio quality to the one produced by the TV and you will understand. For this reason, it is advised to invest in a good quality sound bar for the complete immersive experience.
These are some of the basic aspects to take care of while buying a Television. You could also check out our best lists to guide you to the best available models in various screen sizes.