Television Buying Guide

Find out all you need before buying a new Television
Click on each step for more information
When looking for the best TV to buy, you’ll need to consider a number of factors, including size, resolution, type, energy consumption and installation preferences. With such a wide range of products on the market, it may seem a daunting prospect buying a TV, but this guide should help you get started.

1 Size: Consider the size of your room

While you may argue that bigger is better, you’ll also need to consider how much space you have in your home when deciding which TV to buy.

Luckily, technology advances mean that screen sizes are now much bigger, whereas televisions themselves can be just an inch thin – saving considerable space.

TV measurements are taken diagonally across the screen and your viewing distance should play a big part in the size of TV you buy:

  • Over 3 metres: 56 inches and over
  • Between 2.5 and 3 metres: 46 to 55 inches
  • Between 2 and 2.5 metres: 40 to 45 inches
  • Between 1.5 and 2 metres: 32 to 39 inches
  • Less than 1.5 metres: up to 32 inches

Once you’ve decided on how big your TV is going to be and whether you’re going to plump for LED, LCD or Plasma – now is the time to simply examine individual sets for their look and feel.

You’re bound to have your own tastes and preferences, but make sure to examine the TV from all sitting angles and fiddle around with the remote control to ensure it is intuitive.

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2 Resolution: HD Ready or Full HD or Ultra HD (UHD)

HD Ready (720p)

Double the sharpness of a standard definition TV, HD Ready sets allow you to watch HD broadcasts but they may not be in full resolution.

This may be a better option for you if you are buying a smaller TV.

Full HD (1080p)

Full HD TVs can be as much as five times sharper than a standard set, enabling you to watch full resolution HD broadcasts and Blu-rays.

They offer a clearer, sharper and more immersive experience, making this ideal for larger TVs.

Ultra HD Ready or UHD (2160p)

Ultra HD TVs are often referred to as 4K TVs and offer the best and newest resolution currently available in the marketplace.

The resolution on 4K TVs produces four times the quality of 1080p TVs (3840 x 2160 pixels versus 1920 x 1080 pixels) with crisp and stunningly clear, detailed images.

The increase in resolution means at close range you can get the full colour range experience as well as more frequent screen updates to smooth out motion.

UHD is for those who want maximum viewing pleasure on the biggest available screen sizes. The growing popularity for bigger screens means you may want the next-generation of viewing pleasure for the ultimate cinematic experience.

Upgrading to UHD

While many experts feel UHD is the future for TVs, the amount of native content currently available is still relatively low – particularly at the production end.

However, many UHD TVs have built-in upscaling technology that converts HD content to a higher resolution. So you can make the most of today’s video sources, yet be prepared for the future as more UHD content is released.

To take full advantage of UHD, purchase other compatible devices and you can view photos, videos and music in stunning quality wherever there is an internet connection.

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3 TYPE: LED OR PLASMA?

There are three TV screen types typically available: LCD, LED or Plasma.

LCD

Liquid crystal display (LCD) relies on light from behind the screen shining through a matrix of tiny coloured liquid crystal cells.

Usually bigger and bulkier than LED or Plasma screens, they offer a budget alternative to people who are looking for a cost-effective alternative.

LED

Light-emitting diode (LED) TVs use the same technology as LCD screens, but instead of back light lamps shining through liquid crystals, it is a larger number of smaller LEDs.

Slimmer and available in a wider variety of sizes than LCD TVs, LED sets have become increasingly popular.

Plasma

Plasma TVs are made up of tiny gas cells between two sheets of glass, with each cell acting as a small fluorescent tube emitting UV light that strikes red, blue and green spots on the screen.

Offering good definition and deeper colours, Plasma TVs also provide high screen speeds for watching sports and action films.

OLED

With a stunning range of contrast levels and no motion blur, one of the main selling points of OLED TVs are that they offer pencil-thin displays, excellent picture quality and rich, vibrant colours.

Smart TV

‘Smart’ TVs are essentially TVs that offer a number of internet-connected services just like your smartphone. These televisions have features such as media streaming, web browsing, apps games, Skype and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). IPTV is a specific type of internet video standard. IPTV is also commonly known as video streamed via the internet to your TV.

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44. KEY TECHNOLOGIES: OLED, SMART TV and 3D

OLED

With a stunning range of contrast levels and no motion blur, one of the main selling points of OLED TVs is that they offer pencil-thin displays, excellent picture quality and rich, vibrant colours.

Smart TV

‘Smart’ TVs are essentially TVs that offer a number of internet-connected services – just like your smartphone.

These televisions have features such as media streaming, web browsing, apps, games, Skype and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).

IPTV is a specific type of internet video standard and is also commonly known as video streamed via the internet to your TV.

3D

3D TV brings your movies, games and other content to life using innovative technology to maximise viewing pleasure.

Currently, glasses are usually needed to make the most of 3D TVs and they are available in two varieties.

Passive 3D: If you are new to the 3D TV world, you may want to get started with passive 3D glasses. A lightweight and streamlined option, they offer a great cinematic adventure at a cost-effective price.

Active 3D: This gives you the full HD experience, with the very best picture quality available. They are more expensive and cumbersome than passive 3D glasses, but this is because they use the latest technology to optimise viewing pleasure.

Glasses-free 3D TV: Manufacturers continue to develop the next step in 3D TV, which many people consider to be glasses-free sets. These work by projecting different images to the eye, creating a 3D image when they merge.

This is typically how all 3D TVs work, but a special lens in the TV panel performs the same role as the glasses, meaning they are not required.

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5 Connections: HDMI Ports

When buying a television, you will also need to consider the different devices you’ll want to connect to your TV.

The most important connection you will probably need is HDMI. Just count the number of devices you’ll want to connect including gaming consoles and Blu-ray player, and make sure your TV has at least that many HDMI ports (or one or two extra if you’ll be expanding).

Other connections you will need to consider are USB inputs and SD card slots, which are nice for displaying photos from your digital and video camera too.

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6 Efficiency: Energy Consumption

Certain types of TV are more environmentally friendly than others, which can have a significant effect on energy consumption and bills.

LED TVs are the most energy-efficient, followed by LCDs and, lastly, Plasma.

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7 Installation: Do it yourself or get a professional

Whether you decide to install your TV yourself or have it fitted on your behalf, there are plenty of options open to you in terms of setup.

  • Standard: Unpack, assemble and place on a stand and you are ready to go
  • Wall mount: Saves space, but only suited to slimmer, lighter TVs
  • Cable management: Hide any wiring from devices with cable management systems
  • Home theatre: Plug in some quality speakers, a media player and your TV for the full cinematic experience

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