Master the ABCs of choosing the right tv for your home.
If you haven’t shopped for a new TV in a while, walking into a shop can become a bit of a culture shock. How did the google box get so complicated? And how does someone who just wants to watch a bit of Game of Thrones go about choosing a new telly, without looking like a tube noob? Pick up some jargon and get ready to impress the sales person.
LED and LCD TVs
Most TVs sold today use Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to light up the Liquid-crystal Display (LCD) screen. These TVs light up some areas of the screen and dim other areas – it’s called active dimming or local dimming – so as to display a better mix of light and dark areas in a scene. Some fancier sets even have fullarray backlighting to give a better contrast so your TV-viewing experience is all that better. This is seen in Ultra HD sets.
Other LCD technology includes quantum dots. How this works is there is another layer of different sized nanocrystal dots which will light up when the LED backlight hits them. This thus produces a wider array of colours and more brightness.
Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) is basically a light-emitting diode (LED) where the emissive electroluminescent layer is a film of organic compound that emits light responding to an electric current. These are better than full-array LED-LCDs as they have a few dozen lighting zones. Instead of a backlight, OLEDs utilize a layer of organic LEDs so as to get absolute black and precise levels of contrast, at the pixel level. This makes colours pop amazingly. Prices are, of course, also ‘organically’ more expensive.
HD Versus 4K
This simply refers to how sharp the TV picture looks, based on the horizontal lines of pizels. High-definition (HD) TV is the current industry standard. A cheap older model may support just 720p (meaning, 720 lines scanned progressively) or 1080p (known as full HD).
TV manufacturers are swiftly shifting from HDTVs to Ultra HD sets (known as 4K) which have four times the number of pixels as current HDTV sets – this means 2,160 horizontal lines, or 3,840 x 2160 pixels! 4K sets’ most important benefit is you see more details on smaller objects and sharper text on the screen so that the images look richer. For now, most TV channels are not 4K broadcast and only some programmes (eg on Netfix or Amazon Prime Instant Video) offer 4K streaming options. Thus, you may not be enjoying the full impact of 4K TVs just yet. But that’s on the way so you may be better off buying a 4K set now instead of having to upgrade in a year or two.
HDR And Dolby Vision
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is an upgrade of the 4K format. This delivers more colours, contrast levels and brightness than your regular ol’ 4K Ultra HD TVs. For even better TV effects, go for the Dolby Vision, which is by the same people who gave us Dolby noise reduction and surround sound. When choosing a TV set, if you’re going for a HDR one, do pick one that is compatible with Dolby Vision. Frankly, for most of us, we may not be able to tell the difference much but TV fanatics will love the richness.
Do look out for the number of HDMI inputs the TV set comes with. Cheaper sets may come with less HDMI plugs on the back but these quickly get used up. For example, in our household, we already use one each for the sound bar, DVD player, cable box and a game console. Try to buy a TV set with at last 4 HDMI inputs for your growing needs.