Buying a TV may sound like an ordinary purchase decision you can do at a whim but it shouldn’t be the case. To make sure you enjoy the TV you spend money on, you have to choose it carefully. Pay attention to the screen size, resolution, sound quality, and connectivity, as discussed below.
This post will no longer deal with picture quality since it should be a basic feature in any modern TV you get. Your options should be limited to TVs that have vibrant but realistic colors (not oversaturated), good contrast ratio (at least 4500:1), high refresh rate (120Hz or higher especially if you use it for gaming), and excellent viewing angles.
One of the most important questions in buying TVs is the screen size. How big should your TV be? The answer mainly depends on the size of the room where the TV will be installed and how you will be using your TV. Experts have different takes on how to find the right TV size with respect to room size. For Amazon, for example, the recommended screen size is obtained by getting the distance (in feet) between the intended location of the TV and the position where you will be sitting (viewing distance), and multiplying this by 7.7. This means that for a viewing distance of 5 feet, the recommended TV screen size is around 40 inches (5×7.7=38, but there are no 38-inch TVs). This formula purportedly makes for most comfortable and immersive viewing experience.
Crutchfield, on the other hand, suggests that the ideal TV screen size can be obtained by dividing viewing distance (in inches) by 1.5 or 2.5. For example, if you have a viewing distance of 80 inches or around 6 to 7 feet, the recommended TV screen size is around 40 inches.
These don’t mean that your TV size choice should be based on the size of your living or entertainment room. It depends on how far from the TV you want to be seated in. If you will mostly be using your TV for PlayStation gaming, for example, you would likely be positioning your seat closer to the TV so you don’t need a huge screen. In most cases, 40-inch TVs would be good enough for small living or entertainment rooms but you can get something smaller if you only intend to use it for console gaming, web browsing, or to serve as a second display for your computer. To be sure that you are getting something that really suits your needs, personally evaluate the TV for its optimum viewing distance at the store.
In relation to screen size, you also need to take screen resolution into account. The prevailing screen resolutions are HD or 720p, FHD or 1080p, and Ultra HD or 4K. If you are just a casual TV show viewer, an HD TV would likely be good enough. TV shows, at least those in traditional TV broadcast (not online streaming), are usually in 720p or HD resolutions. There’s no benefit in getting a 1080p or 4K TV if you will only be consuming 720p content.
Choosing between 1080p and 4K is a decision that may have to be mainly based on whether or not you will be spending extra for 4K content. In most cases, 1080p is good enough. It’s a good enough resolution for watching movies, gaming, and internet browsing. Again, there’s no use spending for an ultra high resolution screen if you will not be getting high resolution content. One of the compelling reasons not to get a 4K TV just yet is the scarcity of 4K content. Most 4K TVs employ upscaling or converting because most content are still in FHD or 2K. This means the pixels in a video or game are merely being enhanced to mimic 4K resolution.
You can’t say that you are getting a 4K TV because you want a big screen size and you want to view the TV from a farther distance. Resolution differences become insignificant the farther you are from your TV. You may want to choose 4K for the sake of future-proofing. It is expected that 4K will become the new standard resolution for TVs and media content. Eventually, more 4K content will become available and cheaper so it’s not really going to be a bad decision to invest in a 4K TV.
A good TV should come with good audio. As much as possible, you should no longer have to buy a separate home theater system to enjoy your TV. Pay attention to the sound of the TVs you are considering. It would be good to have one that comes with its own subwoofer and soundbar.
If you want a slim TV that can be seamlessly installed on your wall, don’t expect it to deliver the best sound quality. You would have to get additional speakers if you really want the best sound experience. Be clear with your priorities. If you want something light and consumes less space, be prepared to spend more to add a separate speaker system.
Your TV should come with all the connectivity options expected in a modern TV. Your TV should be versatile enough to be connected to various other devices. In addition to the usual HDMI (preferably at least 4 of these) and audio ports, it would be good to have USB ports as well as wireless connectivity. TVs that come with USB ports are capable of playing media content from USB drives. They can also connected to smart devices. Similarly, those that have wireless connectivity can be used to mirror the screen of devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, and laptops
If you are just going to use your TV for regular TV show watching, though, you don’t need a lot of connectivity options. The TV you will be getting will likely be less expensive with just the basic input and output ports.
Wall-Mounted or On-a-Rack?
Most TVs can either be mounted on the wall or placed on a rack. However, not all of them have the right accessories for wall mounting. That’s why if you intend to put your TV on your wall, It would be better it already comes with the right accessories. There’s no need to spend more for the wall-mounting. Some stores may even offer free installation.
Do You Need a Smart TV?
It would be good to have a smart TV but you don’t have to make the “smart” aspect a main point of consideration. If your other choices are less expensive but good enough as far as picture and audio quality are concerned, they would be a better option. If your TV has HDMI or fast USB ports (USB 3.0 or 4.0), you can easily upgrade it into a smart TV by using a TV dongle or set top box.
Tips and Conclusion
Consider the following tips as you make your TV buying decision:
- Don’t be fixated on brands. The brand you’ve known and trusted may have already been exceeded by newer players with cheaper and better alternatives.
- If you need a TV for gaming, in addition to the points discussed above, you just have to make sure that the TV you get can properly handle fast movements or high action scenes by having high refresh rates (120Hz or more). It should also have low input lag.
- Research your options online before going to the store. This way you can proceed to evaluating the different features of the TV you want to buy.
- As much as possible, don’t buy your TV online. Personally examine your options.
- Don’t pay too much attention to the specs when you evaluate a TV. Trust your own eyes.
- Curved and 3D TVs don’t really mean anything much. Personally experience them and decide if they’re really worth the extra price.
- Read feedback on TV quality with respect to the store or vendor. Don’t generalize brands based on buyer reviews or ratings posted on different sites. Most of the time, reviews, especially concerning TV quality and customer service, are specific to a store.
The TV you buy has to have excellent picture and sound quality, should be easy to install, and should have adequate connectivity options. Consider the points raised above as you scrutinize these factors in relation to your needs and preferences.