There are several factors you should evaluate while buying a TV. This guide helps you identify and evaluate them.
LED is popular, but is that your choice? What about LCD and Plasma? And what is OLED?
LCD TVs use CCFL technology. They are bulkier and don’t last as long as LED TVs. They also don’t provide as good a picture quality as LED TVs. However, LCD TVs are cheaper than LED TVs. So, if you are on a budget, LCD TVs could be a good option. However, since LEDs are getting cheaper too, most brands are phasing out LCD displays this season.
Traditionally, plasma televisions were widely hailed as having the best picture quality because of their deep blacks. They still do, according to experts, but LEDs have over time bridged the gap. They have excellent contrast and do not suffer from motion blur. They are often priced lower than comparable LED/LCD models. Plasma TVs also afford wider viewing angles.
Plasma TVs do not perform so well in brightly lit rooms. Plasma TVs are also heavier and are available in large sizes only (42″ and above). They are not suitable for higher altitudes. Even though Plasma TVs have bridged the gap in terms of electricity consumption, they still fare poorly compared to LED TVs.
Plasma TV sales are steadily declining. Only LG and Samsung continue to manufacture Plasma TVs. Panasonic recently decided to shut Plasma TV production because it was getting difficult to achieve 4K resolution on them.
Latest tech – OLED
OLED technology is being tipped as the next big thing in TVs. OLED TVs offer deeper blacks within a thinner and lighter panel than LCD displays. It is believed that the rise of OLED will go hand-in-hand with the rise of 4K.
However, only a few OLEDs are available in the market today, that too at exorbitant prices. It might be a while before OLED TVs become mainstream.
LED TVs are the smart choice for most TV shoppers. They offer good picture quality for bright rooms, are thin and save electricity. You can’t really go wrong with an LED TV.
Plasmas have downsides but are unbeatable in picture quality and motion smoothness. If your room is dark, plasmas are probably the best option for you. They are also cheaper than LED/LCD TVs.
Buyers on a budget can consider buying an LCD TV, while they are still available. LCTD TVs provide a near-LED like picture quality for a much lesser price.
What’s the right TV size for you?
Go for the maximum size that fits your budget. If you have constraints on the size of the cabinet/wall, take that into consideration too. But also note that a TV is usually a long term purchase. It might be worthwhile to consider replacing your stand/cabinet if it does not support the screen size you desire.
Should you go for HD or Full HD resolution? What about 4K?
Can I watch content that is not available in my TV display resolution?
Yes, however, watching content of a lower resolution than the TV will not increase it’s quality. Similarly, watching content of a higher resolution will not be as rewarding. This means that 480p content on a 1080p TV will not look any better than watching it on a 480p TV.
What is display resolution?
The display resolution of a television is the number of distinct pixels displayed in each dimension. It is usually quoted as width × height, with the units in pixels. For example, “1920×1080”.
Each video content is also in a resolution depending on the number of pixels in the video.
Common Content Resolutions
|Analog cable TV
|Tata sky/Dish TV etc
|Tata Sky HD/DISH TV HD etc
||1080p (Full HD)
|Xbox 360, PS4
The correct resolution for maximum detail
Resolution, screen size and viewing distance are interlinked. Hence, the perfect resolution for you depends on two factors
- The TV’s screen size
- The distance at which you watch TV
Roughly, using a typical viewing distance of 7-8 feet, for any screen size less than 40″, 720p ought to be enough. Your eye will not be able to make out the difference between 720p and 1080p. If the TV size is between 40″-60″, Full HD is the best option. 4K is a good option only for screen sizes 60″ and higher.
If you sit closer, you should buy a higher resolution TV.
Ultra HD(4K) – The future
Ultra HD is four times the resolution of HD which equates to 3840 X 2160. This provides a never before viewing experience. Even though there is hardly any 4K content readily available as of now, 4K is being widely hailed as the future of TVs.
If you are buying a television smaller than 40″, HD is usually sufficient; your eye will not not be able to tell the difference at a distance of 8 feet. The Full HD resolution is worth it from 40″ to 60″. Anything over 60″, you can consider 4K resolution.
However, if you sit closer, you should buy a higher resolution.
Is 3D TV appropriate for you? Should you buy a Smart TV?
A smart TV lets you connect to the internet or devices in your home. There are different kinds of smart TVs as shown in the infographic.
What’s so ‘Smart’ about a Smart TV?
Some smart TVs can connect to your laptops and phones and mirror the laptop/phone screen through technologies like miracast, or can even play/ display the content on your devices through technologies like DLNA.
Smart TVs that can connect to the Internet usually can access a range of online services via apps like Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. There are also apps that support channel streaming as well as live streaming over the internet.
There are a few smart TVs which also support Skype calls and messaging clients. These Smart TVs are usually equipped with a camera.
Can you turn a TV “smart” later?
Yes. You can buy smart boxes which turns any HDMI equipped TV into a smart TV. You can buy such smart boxes
Never before have numbers sounded sexier than when choosing screen resolution. Confused about whether you should you opt for 720p, 1080p, or 4K? Wait, hold on, what’s Ultra HD? Answers to these questions and more:
4K or Ultra HD
The newest standard is officially known as Ultra High Definition, but is commonly just called “4K” because it’s approximately 4000 pixels across. To be exact, a 4K TV screen is 3840 x 2160 pixels and is, you guessed it, 4 times the resolution of 1080p. So it makes sense that the picture on a 4K Ultra HD TV looks incredibly detailed.
1080p / Full HD
The resolution of 1920 x 1080 is the most common and standard resolution for content made today. 1080p resolution is available in all types of television, including Plasma, LCD, DLP front and rear projection and LCD projection.
Many people don’t notice a big difference when choosing between a TV that has 1080p resolution vs 720p when in a smaller room. However, the difference comes into play when you sit at a distance from the TV. 1080p has more than twice as many pixels as 720p, so it provides finer picture detail. This is the minimum resolution most people are opting for today.
720p / HD Ready
720p resolution is basically HDTV with a resolution of 1280 x 720.
As mentioned, there might not be a big visible difference between 720p and 1080p when viewing regular television and cable, and if this is what you will mainly be using your TV for, it is ideal (depending on the size of your room).
However, for example, when it comes to watching higher quality formats such as Blu-Ray, you will notice that 1080p works better.
The contrast ratio is the difference between the brightest image a TV can create and the darkest. In another way: white/black=contrast ratio. It is one of the most important aspects of picture quality. If the contrast ratio of a TV is bad, the picture looks “whitewashed” or a little faded and if it’s good, well, you’ll know – because the picture, the colours, everything looks beautiful and crisp when the contrast ratio is good.
Colour reproduction defines the ability of a TV to create enough colours to present photo-realistic images and satisfy the human eye. The range of colours that a TV can reproduce is only a portion of the full colour space, and is known as the TV’s Colour Gamut. The brightest colours and the deepest blacks can be best achieved in LED/OLED TVs.
The picture on your TV is a series of images and the Refresh Rate is how often a TV changes the image (also known as a “frame”) on screen. In comparison to the modest 60 Hz of the old CRTs, TVs nowadays have a refresh rate of 120 Hz and 240 Hz. The higher the refresh rate on a television, the lesser the motion blur. This is something extremely important to consider before settling down to watch the cricket match, getting ready to watch Hrithik Roshan’s action scenes or other fast-paced content such as gaming. Imagine you’re just about to beat your opponent on that FIFA game. You don’t want a lag there, do you?
When placing the TV in your home, viewing distance is of primary importance. The more the image fills up your field of vision, the better and more immersive your viewing experience is. Do not sit too close to the TV so as to have the pixels look like tiny dots and cause your eyes harm, but also not so far that you miss the finer details in high definition. Use the chart below to find the approximate and appropriate range for your TV placement.
For HD, Blu-Ray, 4K streams, or an Ultra HDTV – sit closer to the range, while lower quality content sources find their place at the far end of the range, so as to not notice their defects.
Other factors that contribute to your experience are viewing angle and height. Make sure the height is at eye level and the viewing angle will always be best when the TV is placed directly straight ahead.
3D is an added feature in most of the high-end TVs on sale nowadays. Such TVs can display videos that are made in 3D.
You will require specialized 3D glasses depending on the type of screen. There are two types of screens – Active and Passive.
Active 3D glasses alternate the images between both the eyes. Active 3D glasses are expensive and require battery power to operate. Active 3D glasses tend to be slightly heavy.
A passive 3D TV works by showing two different images simultaneously. Passive 3D glasses are designed so that each eye sees only one of the images. Since each eye can only see half the total available pixels, the perceived resolution is half of the TV resolution.
Passive 3D glasses do not require a battery. If you have watched a 3D movie in a theatre, you probably have already used passive 3D glasses.
Comparison between Active and Passive 3D glasses
||Same as content
||Half of the content
Some TVs have this feature. It allows you to convert regular 2D content and watch it in 3D, but since the content is not natively 3D, it does not provide as immersive an experience as native 3D.
What devices can play 3D content?
- HD set top boxes of DTH providers like Tata sky and Airtel.
- 3D blu ray players
- PS3, PS4, Xbox 360
How much 3D content is available?
3D content is currently limited to some movies and games. The library of 3D content is steadily increasing though.
Smart TVs come packed with a lot of features and apps that allow you to access various online services. If you own devices such as Xbox, Xbox One, PS4, PS3 or Wii which can connect to the internet, you will appreciate the capabilities of a smart TV.
3D content availability is limited as of now but we expect it to increase in the future. Even though passive 3D TVs have half the vertical resolution of active 3D TVs, people prefer passive 3D TVs over active 3D TVs. Passive 3D TVs tend to have less flicker, creating a better overall 3D experience. Passive 3D glasses are also cheaper and more comfortable.
What does HDMI mean? What are the different connectivity options that you should seek in your
High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is the reigning standard in connectivity. HDMI is much superior than the standard definition video cables (S-Video, composite or RF) because of lossless transmission of data. It supports higher bitrate, rendering videos better than traditional AV media cables.
Most of the modern entertainment devices like blu-ray players, DVD players, gaming consoles and laptops feature an HDMI port. In case you have more than one of these devices, it is ideal to go for a TV with at least two HDMI slots.
There are a myriad of devices that can connect to your TV by means of USB. Examples include hard drives, pen drives, digital cameras and internet dongles.
However, not all file formats are supported by all TVs. Be sure to check what file formats are supported by your TV before trying to access the files through USB. In case you wish to access some special media formats, it is advisable to get a player which can render the picture and play the media formats on your TV.
Connectivity is by means of an optical cable and most commonly used in consumer audio equipment. Connectivity is via digital optical socket from a CD/DVD player, DAT recorders, computers and modern video game consoles as well. However, HDMI is a better option for connecting blu-ray players.
A VGA cable is sometimes used to connect a TV to a laptop. It is capable of high resolutions and frame rates, but only supports analog signals. This technology is old and this port is hardly ever found on newer TVs.
An ethernet port helps your TV connect to the home broadband network. Once on the network you can enjoy movies or browse data stored on other devices on the network. Ethernet is also used to connect to the world wide web and lets you stream music and videos.
Wi-Fi helps you connect to the home network and the internet, without any wires. Usually, it features in mid-to-high range TVs. Once the TV is connected to a WiFi network, you can browse content on a shared device, provided that both the device and TV support the same platform (Example: DLNA).
In case you have a smart TV, you can also stream audio and video from the internet.
Near Field Communication is a wireless mechanism where a radio channel is used to establish communication, when devices are in proximity. This technology has been adopted in some high-end TVs. It allows smartphones, laptops and tablets with NFC support to connect to your TV.
Figure out your use cases and buy TVs which support connectivity for those use cases. You should always think long term when buying a TV.