TV Buying Guide

Staff Writer By Staff Writer - updated June 23rd, 2023
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So you're thinking about buying a new television? Excellent! You've come to the right place. Whether you've just moved into your own place or you're looking to upgrade your existing television, it pays to put some time into making your purchase. The right television can really enhance your home entertainment experience and with some of the latest technology, it can be a real feast for your eyes!

In this buying guide we break down some of the various considerations when buying a new TV - specs, terms and features you'll want to keep in mind. We'll explain what they mean, share the pros and cons of each, and ultimately, help you choose the best television for your household and entertainment needs!

Screen Size

One of the first things to consider when purchasing your TV is where it will be placed in your house. Is it going in your bedroom? Your living room? What wall will it sit up against? How big is the room in comparison to the TV screen size you’re looking at? How close will you be sitting to the screen? This will help you decide what screen size you need. It’s always a good idea to get a tape measure out and figure out what size fits the space your TV will live in. Keep in mind when measuring your space, that televisions are measured diagonally and in inches. A 32” screen would measure 32” from one corner to the opposite corner. 

The size of your room in both directions will give you a good idea of what size you should look for. Obviously, you need to consider whether the TV will actually fit in the space you want to put it. Additionally, you should consider how much space you can have between you and the screen. If there's not much space, then you will have to aim for a smaller TV. While these details will give you a better idea of what TV is right for your unique space, here is a general guide on TV sizes in the home:

  • 55" and up is great for living and entertainment rooms - the best size ultimately depending on your measurements. As we get into the larger sizes, it's worth paying attention to the viewing distance as well for the most comfort when viewing your TV. Here are some recommendations:
    • 55-inch TV - 1.7 m distance
    • 65-inch TV - 2.0 m distance
    • 75-inch TV - 2.3 m distance
    • 85-inch TV - 2.6 m distance
  • 40"- 55" is ideal for small to average-sized living rooms or bedrooms
  • 32" or smaller is ideal for bedrooms and kitchens

Display Resolution

The display resolution of a television, computer monitor, or other display device is the number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displayed. Basically, it’s how sharp the picture on your TV screen is.

Screen resolution comparisons
Here is a way to understand how many more pixels you'll be getting at different resolutions.

8K - The Ultimate in Home TV

If you are looking for the absolute highest quality images for your TV, look no further than 8K. The resolution on an 8K TV is 4 times higher than 4K UHD TVs, and 16 times higher than 1080p FHD TVs. This means that on the same sized TV, there will be significantly more pixels, more densely packed into the same area. More pixels leads to more realistic and sophisticated image representation.

As 8K is still in the early days, there is limited content available. However, the latest generation of games consoles claim 8K support and all 8K TVs have upscaling technology. Upscaling involves using an AI that collects and learns a variety of content characteristics, and then uses this information to display lower quality resolutions at a higher definition. You will need special inputs and cabling to get the most out of your 8K TV. Note that to make the most of your 8K TV, you'll need an HDMI 2.1 cable!

4K and Ultra HD – They’re the same thing!

4K is quickly becoming the standard among television makers. More and more consoles and streaming services are supporting 4K content - you'll even find that many YouTube videos are in 4K now! As a result, lower resolution specs on TVs are becoming dated. You'll especially notice that once you get the taste of a 4K display - it'll be hard to go back after that. If you’re after a television that will adapt to current and future tech in the near future, you’ll still be able to enjoy the best benefits that come with television and entertainment with a 4K TV.

One of the biggest benefits of having a 4K TV is that small items or objects on the screen have more detail, including sharper text. As a whole, images on the screen are richer and much more lifelike than compared to an HDTV, but these perks can be subtle depending on what you’re watching and on what platform (e.g. Netflix, Xbox One X, Apple TV etc.)

1080p and Full HD – They’re the same thing too!

Full HD, also known as 1080p or FHD (Full High Definition), is a display resolution standard that offers crisp and clear images with a reasonable level of detail. You may recognise 1080p as the current standard from streaming services such as Netflix or YouTube (though this is beginning to change). If you frequently watch YouTube videos at 1080p, you’ll have a good idea of what the resolution is like. It’s decent – but it’s not 4K. Don’t get us wrong though, you can easily watch DVDs, Blu-ray, Netflix, and play on the latest consoles without obvious pixelation with a 1080p resolution. If getting the crispest or sharpest display isn’t high on your priorities, 1080p is the way to go - it offers a great balance of performance and affordability.

HDR - What is it exactly?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, a display technology that enhances the contrast, brightness, and colour depth of images on digital screens. HDR brings out more details in both the brightest and darkest parts of a picture, as well as providing more vibrant and vivid colors. In traditional Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) displays, the range of colors and contrast between light and dark areas is limited. HDR expands this range, allowing the display to show a greater diversity of shades, colours, and details, thus producing a more true-to-life and immersive image. Essentially, HDR means a TV can cover a wider space within the colour spectrum, and within that space, the various gradations of shades will be much smoother than on non-HDR TVs. There are four main HDR formats that vary in terms of specifications and compatibility:

  • HDR10: This is the most common and widely supported HDR format, considered as the baseline standard. HDR10 supports 10-bit color depth, which translates to approximately 1.07 billion colors, and has a peak brightness level of 1,000 nits.
  • HDR10+: This format is an improvement over HDR10, featuring dynamic metadata, which allows color and brightness information to be adjusted on a scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame basis. As a result, HDR10+ delivers more accurate and nuanced color reproduction. It maintains the same 10-bit color depth and peak brightness level as HDR10.
  • Dolby Vision: Known for its advanced capabilities, Dolby Vision also uses dynamic metadata for more precise color and brightness control. It supports 12-bit color depth, offering over 68 billion colors, and boasts a potential peak brightness level of up to 10,000 nits. 
  • HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma): Developed for broadcast television, HLG is compatible with both HDR and SDR displays without the need for additional metadata. It focuses on delivering HDR content through live streaming services and broadcasts, where static or dynamic metadata is unsuitable. HLG is widely used by broadcasters and streaming platforms worldwide. 

Panel Type

LED/LCD

LED also known as LCD, is the most commonly known type of television panel. It’s more affordable and common – being the oldest and most traditional TV display type. LED/LCD display technology works by delivering light from LED backlight arrays of different types to an LCD panel in which RGB pixels are integrated. Therefore, the black levels in LCD/LED TVs are generally far from perfect, even though they have gotten much better than before in newer TV models. However, this doesn’t mean that they lack high-quality picture performance. There are several 4K TV models that are built with LED/LCD panels that are still great quality.

Mini LED

A Mini LED TV panel features smaller LED backlighting units compared to traditional LED TVs. This advanced technology allows for more precise control of local dimming, resulting in improved contrast ratios, deeper blacks, and enhanced colour accuracy. By incorporating a larger number of minuscule LEDs, Mini LED TV panels provide better overall picture quality, elevated brightness, and reduced risks of issues like blooming or light leakage that can occur in traditional LED or edge-lit displays. Additionally, mini LED panels consume less power than standard LED panels, offering more energy-efficient performance without compromising on display quality. 

OLED

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode panel. In layman’s terms, OLEDs are made with organic compounds that light up when fed electricity. Unlike traditional LED or LCD panels, which use a separate backlight, each pixel in an OLED panel produces its light, allowing for superior control over brightness and colour. OLED panels are known for their impressive contrast ratios, as they can achieve true blacks by turning off individual pixels entirely. This leads to deeper black levels and higher perceived contrast, resulting in vivid and lifelike images. Because they don't use backlights, they are also more energy efficient.

Additionally, OLED panels tend to have wider viewing angles. They also have near-instantaenous response times, reducing motion blur and providing smoother visuals, making them ideal for fast-paced movie scenes and video games! Because they don't use backlights, they are also more energy efficient and have designs that are thin and flexible. 

QLED

QLED stands for Quantum Dot (QD) Light Emitting Diode. These panels are designed to enhance the picture quality of television screens using Quantum dots - tiny semiconductor nanocrystals that emit bright and vibrant colours when exposed to light. QLED technology enhances the colour performance, colour volume, and brightness of the display compared to traditional LED TVs. By offering a wider colour gamut and higher colour accuracy, QLED panels can produce more lifelike and vivid images with excellent contrast and peak brightness levels.

While QLED panels are considered to offer better overall brightness and colour vibrancy than conventional LED TVs, they still use a backlight source. This limitation distinguishes QLED from OLED panels, which do not have a separate backlight and provide even better contrast ratios and deeper blacks. However, QLED is available in up to 88” screen sizes, whereas OLED maxes out at around 55”. Since QLED is a newer panel type, it is also predicted to have a longer life span.

QNED

QNED stands for Quantum Nano Emitting Diode panel - you'll find this panel on some LG models. It blends the characteristics of Quantum Dot (QD) and NanoCell (NC) technologies to deliver a superior viewing experience and is often considered a step forward in TV display innovation. Quantum Dot technology enhances the colour performance and efficiency of the display; while NanoCell technology filters out unwanted colours and improve colour accuracy, providing clearer and more vivid images. It also aids in boosting contrast levels and maintaining consistency in picture quality even at off-angle viewing.

QNED panels offer a striking combination of both these technologies, resulting in a higher resolution, better colour accuracy, improved contrast, and an expanded colour palette. It also has the potential to deliver deeper blacks, better shadow details, and enhanced brightness, compared to traditional LED and OLED panels. QNED panels are also known to incorporate Mini LED backlighting technology that significantly improves the contrast ratio and local dimming performance.

Other Considerations

Smart TVs

Smart TVs are all the rage right now and for good reason - the level of convenience they offer over a regular TV is huge. Easily access apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Lightbox and NEON for television and film streaming; watch your favourite videos with ease using the YouTube app; listen to music with apps like Spotify and more! Whilst not all Smart TVs offer all of these specific apps, you’ll be safe to say that almost all smart televisions offer a wide range of apps for a variety of different uses.

Smart TVs aren’t essential but they are incredibly handy if your household uses a variety of different streaming platforms. With the market moving quickly to add smart TV capabilities in almost all new models of televisions, they're soon going to become the standard. It’s a good idea to consider whether or not you need a Smart TV if you already have a smart box or console that contains the typical Smart TV apps such as a PlayStation or Xbox – which both have Spotify, Netflix, YouTube, etc. If you’re not in the market for a Smart TV but still want to enjoy apps and/or your own content, consider purchasing a set-top box like AppleTV or a Google Chromecast.

Refresh Rate

If you’re after a television to play the latest video games on, we suggest looking for a television with a high refresh rate. What is refresh rate, you ask? Refresh rate is how often a TV changes the image (also known as a "frame") on your screen. With traditional televisions, this was 60 times each second or "60Hz." Many high-end televisions can refresh at much higher rates - most commonly 120Hz (120 frames per second), while some 4K televisions can hit up to 240Hz (240 frames per second).

Higher refresh rates on TVs can help decrease motion blur. If you’re gaming and want to capture every moment as quickly as possible so it’s best to look for a refresh rate of 120Hz or 240Hz to eliminate lag and blur. Whilst 60Hz will work just fine, you’ll notice the difference in a higher refresh rate when it comes to fighting and combat, finer details in moving images such as scenery, overtaking competitors and noticing hidden enemies in multiplayer modes. Due to their almost-instantaneous response time, OLEDs are a great choice for gamers!

Sound Bars

Let’s be honest – most television speakers aren’t anything to get excited about. If you’ve ever been in the home of someone that loves their TV and films, you’ve probably seen their additional audio set up in their lounge or home theatre room. Because of this, we recommend grabbing a sound bar to compliment your television. For those who aren’t familiar with what sound bars are, let us explain. A sound bar is an all-in-one speaker system that delivers high-quality TV sound without requiring the space, complexity and expense of a home theatre or surround-sound speaker setup. A sound bar's long, slender cabinet contains two or more speakers and may provide either stereo or surround sound depending on which you purchase.

Sound bars are sleek and look great in any lounge – and they can greatly enhance your home entertainment experience! Made by a variety of trusted companies such as LG, Dell, Samsung and more, you’re sure to find a sound bar that suits you and your set up. Most modern sound bars are wireless and will easily connect with a WiFi enabled or Smart TV – but don’t worry if you haven’t got a fancy TV, they also connect via HDMI! If you have a wall-mounted television you can also purchase wall-mount-enabled sound bars too.

So why purchase a sound bar? Not only do they look good, but they amplify your television viewing experience. Whilst many television speakers don’t pack a punch and almost always point in the wrong direction, sound bars are designed to push the sound forwards to the viewers and match what’s on screen with what you hear. Say for example there’s an explosion in a movie. Sound bars will amplify this explosion with added bass, making the noise more amplified and heavy.

Not only do sound bars work great for gaming, watching television and movies – they also make sweet speakers for music! If you’ve got your music system hooked into your television, simply play music as you would and hear the music through your sound bar. You can also pair your smart device with Bluetooth-enabled sound bars to play music straight from your phone or tablet to the speakers. Easy!

Connectivity

Pay attention to the ports that are on the TV and consider the devices you will have plugged into it. With the ensemble of devices that can make up a home entertainment system, these can get used up quickly. If a manufacturer has chosen to reduce costs by cutting back on the number of HDMI ports, you may find yourself needing to buy an HDMI splitter. Look for a TV that has at least four HDMI ports and if possible, using the newer HDMI 2.1 format; of course, take note of what other ports may be required for your devices too.

Ready to Pick Out a New TV?

We hope you found this guide helpful! If you're after some TV recommendations, check out our Top 4K+ TVs. Otherwise, head over to our Television department to browse our entire range!


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Staff Writer

For the words, not the glory!

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