TV Buyer’s Guide
Read on to find out about our Top Tips for buying a television and why Smart TVs are the intelligent pick of the future!
Getting the right TV
The big question when choosing a TV used to be ‘LCD or Plasma’. But these days most sets on the market use LCD screens with LED backlights; therefore the choices you’ll encounter can involve everything from the level of detail a TV is capable of, all the way to the contrast and colour it can reproduce.
In this guide we’ll talk you through some of these choices, including screen size and picture quality, as well as the extra features and connectivity options various models offer. Plus we’ll also look at some of the existing and emerging technologies you’ll have on offer.
Choose your screen size
Perhaps the most important choice you’re going to make when choosing your new TV is the size of the screen. TV screens are measured diagonally across in inches. They can be as small as 20 inches or less, or as large as over 80 inches.
Whatever the room, there’s a TV size to suit. For a kitchen or small bedroom, you might consider a screen size of 24 to 43 inches. Alternatively, for your main TV, a 50 to 65-inch screen will mean everyone gets a great view – or perhaps go even bigger for a more spectacular viewing experience.
Your size choice also depends on other things too, such as how many people could be watching at once, or how far from the screen viewers will be sitting.
Ultimately, it’s all a matter of personal preference – but we’ve come up with some guidelines you can keep in mind when you’re shopping for the right size TV.
Choosing the Right Resolution
The picture on your TV screen is made up of millions of tiny dots, or pixels. The more pixels a screen has, the clearer the image is capable of being. The terms HD, Full HD and Ultra HD all refer to the number of pixels a screen has, or its resolution.
TV used to be broadcast in a resolution of 720 x 576 – 720 pixels horizontally and 576 pixels vertically. This is also the same quality found on DVD movies and is referred to as standard definition. Any resolution greater than standard definition is referred to as High Definition (HD).
Often when a TV is referred to as HD it in fact has a resolution of 1280 x 720 – 1,280 pixels horizontally and 720 pixels vertically. This resolution is also referred to as 720p.
Full High Definition (Full HD), also known as 1080p, has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 – 1,920 pixels horizontally and 1,080 pixels vertically (roughly 2 million pixels in total). This is also the resolution found on Blu-ray movies.
With 33% more pixels than a HD TV, Full HD TVs offer more clarity by allowing you to see more detail. Full HD is the most widely used resolution and is the current industry standard.
Ultra High Definition (Ultra HD), also known as 4K, has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 – roughly 8 million pixels in total, or four times the number found in Full HD.
With more pixels, Ultra HD TVs are capable of greater picture detail. Images appear sharper and with smoother lines on the edges of objects. Many Ultra HD sets also enhance the image in other ways, such as improved contrast and a wider range of colours.
Although the size of a TV does not affect its resolution; you’re most likely to see the improved detail from Ultra HD at screen sizes of 49 inches and above, or when you’re sitting closer to the TV.
Ultra HD (or 4k) content has now started to become more available through streaming sites such as Netflix and YouTube. In 2016 we will also see the first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players & discs arrive in New Zealand, this will be the first time that 4K Ultra HD will be available through a physical medium.
New for 2016: HDR
The latest technology advancement being used for the new 2016 range is High Dynamic Range (HDR); but what is HDR? And why does it matter?
HDR allows you get more colours and contrast than ever before, giving a much more vibrant and lifelike picture overall. HDR also allows you to see detail found in shadows and brightness that would be otherwise lost in scenes.
Look at the two images below; the image on the left is like ones found on current TV sets, whereas the image on right is the HDR image.
Look at the gazebo behind the windows; on the left hand it is over-exposed and washed out, whereas on the right it is clear and detailed. These are the kinds of details that will now be revealed with HDR.“Where can I get HDR content?”
By default the TV itself will do its best to make non – HDR content look better, but for the best results you will need native HDR content.
As of mid – April, Netflix has launched selected shows in HDR and the new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will play content in HDR as a default (although these new discs will need a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player).
Different Types of LED TVs
Almost all TVs available now use LED lights as their source of illumination, how TVs use these LEDs has a direct result in the overall picture quality that is produced.
The most common type of LED TVs is called “Edge-lit LED TVs”; this means the LEDs are on the sides of the TV, illuminating the TV from the edges towards the centre.
The other type of LED TVs is called “Full-array LED TVs” (sometimes referred to as Backlit LED). Full Array LED TVs have LEDs across the entire back of the TV panel; this means section of the TV are equally illuminated, giving a better overall picture. As the LED lights are across the entire TV panel, you end up getting a better and more consistent image quality.
“Dimming” (or Local Dimming) is where the light of the LEDs are isolated to certain sections of the screen, ensuring that any bleed is minimised. Bleeding is where the lighting from the LEDs affects the picture by making certain sections of the screen appear brighter and more illuminated than the rest of the image. Due to their design Full-array TVs tend to have better dimming than Edge-lit ones. Dimming helps with giving the TV better contrast and a more consistent picture as the bleeding of light is minimised.
What is OLED?
OLEDs (organic light emitting diode) are the final type of TV available at Noel Leeming. What makes OLED special is, rather than using sets of LED lights, each individual pixel in an OLED is capable of producing light or completely turning itself off. This means OLEDs can create perfectly black images and incredibly vibrant and life-like colours. Previously only available in FULL HD sets, OLEDs are now also available in 4K Ultra HD
What is a Smart TV?
Smart TVs allow you to access online content such as streaming video from YouTube, Netflix and Lightbox, right from your TV – no computer required. They also allow inter-connectivity between other connected devices such as phones, tablets, computers and more.
Entry smart TVs offer most popular streaming services, while higher end TV’s offer a larger range of apps and services. Most have built-in web browsers, some more sophisticated smart TVs can even respond to voice commands and let you send content from your smartphone to your TV screen. Some even allow you to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter or download games.
A smart TV makes it easier to view online content, because you can use a single remote control and there’s no need to switch between multiple input devices.
To utilize the features of a smart TVs you will need it to be connected to your home network. All our smart TVs have built in Wi-Fi to make it easier to connect the TV to your home network; the faster your wireless network the less likely you could be interrupted with pauses during playback of your favourite content, so we recommend ensuring you have a fast AC wireless router or alternatively using a wired Ethernet connection to ensure the best viewing experience.
Consider your viewing angles
Viewing angles in TVs have improved greatly also, LED TVs usually have viewing angles of between 15 and 45 degrees. This means the picture still looks best for people sitting directly in front of the screen rather than for those sitting on the side. Some TVs offer IPS displays (in-plane switching) which widens the possible viewing angle of the TV, this means people can sit further to the side of the TV however there will still be some slight reduction in quality due to the angle
When considering your purchase, we recommend checking that the TV offers a satisfactory image from the angle you’ll most likely be viewing it in your home.
Make the right connections
When choosing your TV you’ll want to make sure that it has all the inputs and outputs for the devices you’ll be connecting to it now and potentially in the future. Most audio-visual components now connect via HDMI connections, so it’s important to make sure the TV has sufficient HDMI inputs for your needs.
Nearly all TVs now have input connections on the side, as well as inputs at the rear. If you’ll be mounting your TV flat against the wall, having side or bottom inputs will work best.