Today, there’s a wide array of high-definition (HD), 4K Ultra HD and even 8K TVs in stores, from bargain big screens to the high-end displays that distinguish the best TVs available. The technologies and features are amazing, but it can be hard to keep up with it all, let alone determine what’s important. We’re here with our TV buying guide to help you decide.
Let’s make this easy: though OLED is more expensive, it’s by far the best picture technology. Period. End of story. To be clear: though OLED wins the picture contest, a good 4K LED TV still offers a spectacular viewing experience — and the good ones come with the same smart TV features found in OLED TVs. Add to that, 4K LED TVs cost less than OLED TVs – possibly freeing up money for that killer sound bar or awesome surround sound system you’re going to want.
So you’re now free to skip over the rest of this section, unless you want more detail and a little TV history.
First came plasma. Then came LCD , which was awesome but had severe shortcomings. Then LCD technology improved and we got LCD/LED TVs, or just LED for short. Then came OLED TVs . Last, there’s also something called QLED, but that’s just Samsung’s name for their particular line of high end LED TVs.
Bottom line: you will be choosing a TV with either LED or OLED panel technology — and that’s all you have to know.
Pick a TV screen size
The range of screen sizes available today is immense, taking in everything from 14-inches to more than 100-inches.
There are a few more common sizes compare. 55-inch is the flagship TV size these days, meaning most new TVs come in a 55-inch model. 65-inch TVs are pretty in demand too, with a select few in 75-inch sizes and above, though you’ll really need a lot of space for them. Smaller sizes like 32-inch and 40-inch are easier to fit in more cramped spaces, and won’t dominate your lounge as much.
We recommend taking a tape measure to your living room wall to ensure the dimensions of this TV are going to fit where you want it. (The number of inches is the diagonal length of the TV screen, from the bottom corner to the upper corner on the other side.)
In 2019, it’s hard to find even a small television that doesn’t feature 4K resolution. That’s “4K” as in “four times 1080p,” the previous standard for high definition video, with a total resolution of 3840 by 2160.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range.” It started off as a photography technique that uses multiple photos of the same subject, taken at different exposures, to bring out the most vibrant colors in a combined image.
The TV’s refresh rate is how many images it can display per second. All modern TVs are at least 60 hertz (Hz), with more expensive models offering 120Hz or even 240Hz.
Most of the time this won’t matter: TV and movie content is almost always displayed at 24 or 30 hertz. Scaling that up to 60Hz isn’t much of a change. But if you display your content at 120Hz or faster, the motion can look smoother.
OLED TVs go one better than full-array LED-LCDs with a few dozen lighting zones. In place of a backlight, OLEDs use a layer of organic LEDs, controlled at the pixel level, to achieve absolute black and stunning levels of contrast. (Footage of fireworks against a black sky is a favorite demonstration of OLED technology.)
Audio: Get a soundbar
Even the finest, most expensive HDTVs have poor sound. It’s a consequence of the svelte design of flat panels — there’s not enough room for large speakers that produce full, rich sound. So, you have three choices: Use headphones, buy a surround-sound system or get a soundbar.