Tv buying guide

Unlike smartphones, most of us don’t check the specs when buying TVs. The only thing we consider is the screen size (inche) and perhaps, the brand.

Technology is fast advancing, and every now and then, there are new features embedded in TVs to make it a smart device.

Resolution, HDR, AI, screen size and internet-based services such as Netflix, Pandora, Hulu and YouTube are some important specs you need to consider when buying a TV.

Smart Tvs

An increasing number of sets come with built-in Wi-Fi for connecting Internet-based services like Netflix for streaming videos or to run apps for watching special-interest programs, downloading on-demand movies, playing games or even posting to Facebook.

The latest models can even search for content across streaming services and live programming on cable and satellite.

The interfaces are generally getting better. Roku offers its famously intuitive interface in budget TVs from Hisense, Insignia (Best Buy’s brand) and TCL.

Google provides its Android TV platform to companies such as Sony and Westinghouse.

It’s nearly impossible to buy a decent TV that doesn’t have some sort of built-in smart features, such as a WiFi connection and streaming apps like Netflix, Pandora, Hulu, YouTube, and HBO GO.

While most smart TVs include these major services, check to make sure the TV you buy has the options you want.

Don’t buy a TV with less than 4K resolution

According to Tomsguide, it’s not ideal to buy a TV with less than 4K resolution (i.e., avoid 1080p sets) if you want a future-proof set.

Why?

That’s because TV manufacturers are rapidly shifting from HDTVs to Ultra HD sets (also called 4K). These 4K models have four times the number of pixels as current HDTV screens.

We’re talking 2,160 horizontal lines, or 3840 x 2160 pixels. The biggest benefit of 4K TVs is that small objects on the screen have more detail, including sharper text.

Overall, images appear richer and more life-like than on an HDTV, but the benefits can be subtle.

Ultra HD video looks great, and it’s getting easier to find. Several streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Video and even YouTube have started offering 4K content, and ultra HD Blu-ray discs are becoming more common.

Full HD 1080p is still the most common screen resolution today, but 4K is increasingly becoming the standard, and it’s a better choice if you want to future-proof your investment.

However, there are few 4K smart TVs here in Africa. I guess we have to wait for sometime.

Voice control, including Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa

The biggest new trend in gadgets, including TVs, is the ability to be controlled by voice commands.

TV remotes with built-in mics and “push to talk” functionality, for example to search for TV shows and movies, are nothing new.

What is new in 2017 and 2018 is integration between the TVs and the two big players in voice today, Google and Amazon.

Some TVs such as Sony TVs and LG TVs have Google Assistant built-in, so you can use their voice remotes to not only search, but order pizza, play trivia games and music, and control lights and other Smart Home devices.

According to reports by CNET, Samsung’s 2018 TVs will get its proprietary Bixby digital assistant.

Curved TV?

Curved TVs are the new trends today. Everybody wants to get one, but they are very expensive.

But what are the manufacturers, expert and consumers saying about it?

According to Samsung (manufacturers of curved TVs), Curved TVs offer viewers the ultimate immersion; their wraparound effect adds depth to scenes and pulls you right into the action.

The optimised viewing angles on let’s say a Samsung 4K curved TV mean that wherever you are in the room, you’ll see precise colour saturation and brightness.

One more benefit of curved screens? They follow the natural curvature of your eyes, making them more comfortable to watch for longer.

Of course, Samsung would definitely defend their brand. But the big question is, are curved TVs really worth their huge price tags?

Let’s bring in Tomguide again. According to them, curved screens are not needed. It is another innovation intended to attract shoppers’ attention to curved screens — mostly used for OLED TVs and 4K LCDs.

The idea, say manufacturers, is to make the TV-watching experience more immersive just as described above by Samsung.

However, not only do curved screens have no technical advantage over the other sets, but they actually have some distinct disadvantages.

For one, the slightly curved aspect distorts the image and reduces the available side-viewing angles, thus limiting the best view to a few people sitting in a narrow, center sweet spot.

LED models also are less likely to produce uniform brightness across the screen.

In addition, some testers, such as Consumer Reports, have reported viewer fatigue caused by the curvature.

Conversely, other early owners have reported that after living with a curved screen, they don’t notice the difference or detect any distortion.

HDR feature

According to Business Insider, HDR is the best feature no one really talks about.

HDR is the second most important feature you should look for in a TV next to its overall display quality.

HDR stands for high dynamic range, which means the screen automatically adjusts its brightness to give you the most accurate colors possible.

It makes a huge difference, and is even starting to become a big deal in console gaming thanks to the new PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S.

The basic standard for high-dynamic range content is called HDR10, as set forth by the UHD Alliance, an industry trade group.

Dozens of companies are supporting this basic minimum specification for HDR compatibility, so you will see “HDR10” or “Ultra HD Premium” on a growing number of TV sets this year.

If you can find a TV you like with HDR and a great picture, get it.

Screen size

Like I said at the begining of this post, screen size is the major factor most people consider when buying a TV. The biggest factor in your decision will probably be screen size.

Size is a personal decision and it’s based on how much space you have. If you have a large space, pick the largest space possible depending on your budget.

A bedroom TV should not be larger than that of a living room.

According Tom’s guide, the best spot today, considering price, performance and the typical living room, is between 55 and 65 inches.

Other features to consider

  • Look for at least four HDMI ports. Just count the number of devices you’ll want to connect, and make sure your TV has at least that many HDMI ports. If you’re considering buying a gaming TV, then this feature is very important.
  • Consider OLED TVs. They have the best picture quality, but they’re still quite expensive.
  • Don’t ignore warranty.
  • Universal controls. A good universal model will almost always work better.
  • Don’t buy a TV with less than a 120 Hz refresh rate.