Updated: 06/07/2022 12:04:42

The Offeroftheday TV Buying Guide And Jargon Buster

A Television is a big investment for your home space, here we explain what to look out for and what this years must have features are for your next purchase

Laura Jenkins

There are a number of popular guides on how to pick the right TV size for you. One rule of thumb used to be that viewing distance should be approximately 3x the height of your television. But thanks to increased screen quality and the introduction of 4K UHD, this distance can be reduced to 1.5x the height of your television when buying a high quality model. The truth is, there is no guide that can replace your best judgement. If you are shopping for a HD quality TV some distance is required, but when it comes to 4K UHD and beyond, it's important to go with your best judgement. Most newer models have very thin bezels which allow you to use all the space you have available.

Size can also vary depending on location. You may want your living room to have more of a home cinema feel, in which case we'd start at 55 inches. Smaller televisions can be suitable for kitchens and bedrooms, where space may be a little harder to come by. If you are struggling with space because of TV stands and cabinets, consider wall mounting your TV. There is a wide variety of wall mounts which can hold even the largest televisions and combined with the ever decreasing thickness of screens, this is an easy way to free up some space in your home while allowing you to branch out to a larger model.

50-inch TVs | 55-inch TVs | 65-inch TVs | 85-inch TVs

What are the different picture qualities?

Screen resolution

Screen resolution generally refers to the number of pixels used to display an image. This is usually written as 1280 x 720 (or 1920 x 1080, 3840 x 260 etc). This would mean that a screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720 has 1280 pixels horizontally and 720 pixels vertically. Fundamentally, your television picture is made out of a grid of tiny pixels. If you were to sit incredibly close to your screen you may be able to see the individual pixels. But as you sit back from your screen these pixels form one clear picture. Essentially, the more pixels you have in your screen the clearer the image will be, even at close distances.

The most common option for most is a HD screen, which gives great quality at a more affordable price. However, as time goes on more streaming services and movies use 4K. This provides a resolution of 3840 x 2160 compared to the 1920 x 1080 of good quality HD. Most television shows still show content in a maximum of HD quality, and this will remain HD quality even if you are watching on a 4K model. Don't worry if you choose a 4K television, this will show non HD and standard quality pictures in the same way as a normal TV, although sometimes this may seem fuzzier than a normal TV due to the difference between standard definition and Ultra High Definition.

What is the difference between OLED and LED?

When it comes to screen type, you have two options: LED or OLED. The main difference between LED and OLED is that an LED television is backlit. LED lights behind the screen or around the edges of the screen illuminate pixels to produce a picture. In contrast, OLED televisions create a picture without the need of a backlight. This allows them to produce a huge contrast of colours, as well as fantastic black levels (one of the more important factors in picture quality). Each individual pixel can turn on and off, allowing the pixels to display a true black. This is different to LED TVs which can't show a true black due to the backlighting.

This may sound like an OLED is the obvious choice, but there are a few catches. While OLED screens allow for fantastic quality and also have the ability to be lighter and thinner, they are significantly more expensive. There is also a significantly reduced choice when it comes to OLED models. LG is the main brand to look out for as they have been making OLED TVs for almost a decade, but Sony and Panasonic do also now make OLED televisions.

If you're looking for pure picture quality then an OLED TV can be worth the investment, but LEDs offer a huge choice of brands and models, as well as being suitable for all kinds of budgets. Higher price point 4K HDR televisions are starting to prove worthy opponents to OLED TV sets, so superior picture quality can still come from LED sets.


Is 8K worth the investment?

The short answer is not right now. 8K televisions sound like a fantastic buy with what must be eye watering quality, but there is a fundamental flaw in 8K TV sales and that is lack of content. There are currently no 8K films available to buy and the cost to users download usage for 8K would likely be more than the average internet connection can take. At the moment, many 8K televisions will provide upscaling from 4K and as it stands, this is what your money would be buying. We'd suggest waiting for more 8K content to be available and the prices to come down.

8K TVs

Fed up of a jittery picture when watching sports or gaming? It could be your refresh rate

The refresh rate, in Hertz (Hz) is a value showing the number of times the picture is refreshed per second. The current standard is 60 Hz, but with high octane scenes in film and more noticeably fast paced sports such as football, this 60 times may not be enough to avoid your image looking a little like the picture is skipping. Refresh rate is also important in gaming situations, with newer consoles like the Xbox series S and PS5 offering games with 120 Hz refresh rates. Most newer high quality televisions will offer 120 Hz refresh rates, and we wouldn't recommend purchasing a model with a refresh rate of less than 120 Hz.

What about HDR?

High Dynamic Range (HDR) allows a wider range of brightness and colour in your picture. Compared to standard contrast options, a HDR display can show brighter whites and darker blacks and everything in between. This increase in colour range allows for a much vivid colour, and for high details to be displayed in all light situations. Some of us may remember struggling to see what's going on in famous film scenes shot in the dark. This is due to contrast limitations, essentially your screen can only show a picture to be so dark or so light. HDR enables a variety of darks and blacks, allowing you to see high quality detail in these scenes. Many online streaming services offer HDR content, but as with all high quality options, this requires high connection speeds. HDR is also fantastic for gaming, with many popular titles offering a HDR experience.

What are the essential features you need on a new TV?

Screen and viewing quality are obviously the most important features on your new TV set, but there are also a number of other options to consider to make sure your next purchase is a model that will last a number of years.

Smart TVs

This is a much smaller issue than it has been in the past, because almost all new TVs you purchase will be Smart TV enabled. With access to a number of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ replacing the need for satellite companies, you'll want a smart TV. Many models allow the installation of apps on your set, so you can often customise your TV to include only the apps you want to use. Smart TVs also allow for the viewing of all sorts of content from your phone or computer like videos, music and photos. A great feature on Youtube allows you to cast videos directly from the app on your phone to your smart TV at the tap of a button.

Tip: Invest in an ethernet cable and hardwire your TV to the router to prevent connectivity cut outs during your streaming sessions.

How many HMDI ports is too many HDMI ports?

Watch out for cheaper models, as these often provide fewer connection ports. Once you've added a games console or two, one of the many available TV sticks like Roku or Chromcast, then a soundbar, you can quickly eat up all available ports. Because of this, most people would suggest 4 HDMI ports as a minimum with new TV purchases. If you're going for a 4K UHD TV, make sure the HDMI ports support HDMI 2.0 or better, to get the most out of Ultra HD inputs.

HDMI ports will be the main port of choice, but most newer TVs will also offer USB, ethernet, component video and optical digital ports as other options.

Alexa and Google Assistant

To integrate your new television with the rest of your home, keep an eye out for Alexa enabled smart TVs. They offer the convenience of Amazon's smart assistant, and enable you to switch between inputs, change the volume and more. Pair this with your favourite Amazon home device like the Echo to even allow you to turn your TV on and off using your voice! You'll also be able to use your Alexa TV to control other smart home devices such as your Ring doorbell or smart lighting.Some TVs also have compatibility with Google Assistant devices, again allowing you hands free features and control of your TV.

Be prepared to budget for better sound

While sound quality in newer TVs is suitable for most, it's worth having a look at some speaker options. The dedication to thinner and lighter TVs means that the sound quality isn't as beefy as it used to be due to the decreased space available to house speakers. In fact, a lot of manufacturers will actually assume you are going to be pairing your new TV up with a soundbar or other speaker options in the home. Soundbars are a fantastic option and start at very reasonable prices (as little as £34.99), so you won't have to invest huge amounts of money to see the benefits of a proper sound system. You want to try and match your sound quality with your TV, don't assume that because you've just bought a fancy 4K UHD model that the sound quality will match up. For an extra treat, you can even look into surround sound options with multiple speakers around your living room to bring that cinema feel into the home.


The bottom line

Regardless of guides and suggestions, it's important to buy the TV that is right for your needs. It's worth investing in the largest screen you can accommodate comfortably, there are few people to ever claim they wish they went with a smaller size when it comes to their television. 4K HDR is a great quality picture to go for, but if you have the extra budget, it is hard to beat an OLED screen. 4 HMDI ports is the new minimum for most to make sure you stay connected to all of your devices. Don't forget to factor in for a soundbar or speaker system. Regardless of price, thin and light televisions can't produce the sound quality needed for a true cinema experience.


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