Buying a TV used to be simple, there were different sizes, a couple of different colours and that was about it.
Buying a TV used to be simple, there were different sizes, a couple of different colours and that was about it. In the HD/4K/8K era, there are many different standards for video, audio and a host of extras that need explaining before anyone should make a buying decision. Check out our quick guide so you don’t feel scared of all those acronyms.
Around the modern TV store
Whether you shop online or in a store, there are three basic levels of TV sets you can buy.
There are the entry-level models, usually smaller and considered “portable” even though most of us keep screens in one place. Prices are typically £250 and lower
Then there are the mid-range flatscreens, which occupy the most popular screen sizes from 32-inches to 48-inches, with a huge range of technology depending on the exact price point and brand. Prices are typically £350 up to £800
Finally, there are the best-in-class screens, the newest models with the latest features and usually over 50-inches in size to best present the latest 4K and better content. These screens often start at £1,500 and go way up. ,
Once you have decided which one of these areas to shop for, you need to demystify the jargon that is plastered around the screens or in the brochure.
Screen and image jargon
The lowest resolution of HD standard, still acceptable on very small screens.
The higher resolution for HD, i is interlaced for a lower-quality picture while p is progressive for the best image.
4K resolution is four times the quality of HD
There was a trend for glasses-based 3D sets which has mostly died out, but good if you enjoy the immersion
The new standard, incredibly expensive and very little content is broadcast or available
The ratio between horizontal and vertical, typically 16:9 but some screen are wider for that cinema feel
Technology that spreads the backlight across the whole screen for a more even image (when compared to edge-lit screens)
The ratio between a screen’s brightest and darkest display, typically 6,000:1 but higher-end screens provide a better picture.
The screen is lit by lamps around the edge, creating inconsistent lighting on some models.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
HDR improves image contrast on equipped TV sets, with various standards across TVs and content providers confusing the issue.
Organic LED (OLED)
A technology that doesn’t need backlights, creating a more vibrant, brighter picture and allows set makers to create thinner screens.
What TV is best for you?
Having learned all that there are a few further simple choices you can make to further narrow down your options and choice of models.
If you are a cinephile, movie fan, hardcore gamer or sports buff you will want the highest quality, largest and best screen you can buy. They will provide great imagery and support the widest range of image and audio technology to bring your entertainment to life.
If you like to binge-watch streaming media, YouTube and other content, you will likely be happier with a smaller or lower-budget screen that still delivers a great image and decent sound. They also have enough HDMI ports to support family use with games consoles and other media devices.
Finally, if you want a screen to go in the kitchen, games room, bedroom or other location, screen quality is likely less important and you can look at the budget models.
Whatever type of screen you are after, base it around your typical viewing patterns and don’t be tricked into spending more than you need to, with many screens from recent years, just as good as the latest displays.