Thank you for choosing our Flat Screen TV buying guide to help you purchase your new HDTV with confidence. The first step is learning about HD technology and find the flat screen tv you are looking for. This can be the most challenging part but what it all comes down to is research. You can find this info all over the internet but here it is all in one place. Flat screen TVs sell every day at amazing prices but before starting your search here is a step by step process to find what you are looking for:
This should be the first thing you decide considering the following:
- Size of room/viewing distance– A larger screen isn’t always necessary for a bigger room, it’s how far away the viewer is going to be. You can always go to a local department store and stand at the approximate distance to gauge it.
- Size of wall if mounting or size of TV stand (what it supports) – My theory is if a picture this size doesn’t look right here then a TV won’t either when it comes to wall mounting but this is entirely up to you. If you already have a stand be sure that it can support the size of your new TV.
This is the type of screen the display is made
- Plasma – high picture quality with rich, vibrant colors and blacks are really deep. Really smooth display of fast action with not much blur. Clear site from almost any angle. Best results in rooms that are dark and not well lit. Over time colors may fade but you should get a clean 30,000 hrs out of it, or even 50,000 from a newer model. Viewed best in a low lit or dark room.
- Liquid-crystal display (LCD) – Backlit by CCFLs (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) provides a great HD picture with bright colors. Works well in lit areas. Colors and blacks not as deep as plasma or LED but still provide a crisp HD picture. Fast action can be a little choppy but a higher refresh rate helps. This type of HDTV works best in a well-lit room.
- Light-emitting diode (LED) – High picture quality with vibrant colors and deep blacks in any lighting condition including a well-lit room. Displays fast action moderately smooth which increases with higher refresh rate. Profiles are thin with a lighter weight. The most popular display type. Displays nicely in a low lit to dark room though best performance in a well-lit room.
- Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) – Extremely high picture quality with vibrant and accurate colors, nice contrast and true blacks. Millions of pixels individually illuminated. Virtually no blur in fast action and wide viewing angles. Displays well in any room lighting and is the highest quality display you’ll find today.
This is the quality or clarity of the images displayed
- 720p Standard quality HD – High definition starts here. It’s your basic HD format that provides a quality picture for TV shows and upscaled DVDs. This does support Blu-ray but will not utilize its full potential. This resolution is at it’s best on a smaller HDTV.
- 1080p Full HD – This is a high quality and extremely detailed HD signal and the most common format today. Displays full HD for Blu-ray devices, console gaming, and TV programming.
- 2160p 4K UltraHD (UHD)– Provides up to four times the resolution of 1080p and can even enhance 720p and 1080p signals. Delivers highest level of clarity at any viewing distance. There are several media apps and devices that support th 4K format. For more info refer to 4K UHD Emerges – The 4K Flat Screen TV buying guide.
Now we can get into speed, power, and delivery which affects your viewing experience
- Inputs/Outputs – One of the first things to consider is how many HDMI ports there are and how many HD devices you will be using. You can always get HDMI expansion but it’s nice to already have it on board. For sound, look for an audio out port. It’s not completely necessary but this way you can send the sound signal from all your media devices through your TV and out to your home theater surround/speakers using just one optical or RCA cord.
- Refresh Rate – This is how many times images on the screen rebuilds or refreshes per second (ex: 120Hz=120 times per second). Fast action on the screen is smooth and not as blurry or choppy with a higher refresh rate. At 60Hz you will experience some blur or distortion when fast action is displayed. At 120Hz there is very minimal blur and at 240Hz you will experience smooth and natural movement on the screen. Most plasma TVs have a refresh rate of 600Hz and display extremely smooth action, although pixels build different on this type of display. A higher refresh rate is great for interactive media and HD gaming.
- Response Time (ms) – The amount of time pixels go from black to white and back to black measured in milliseconds (ms). This is tough for the human eye to gauge and is more detectable with media that is interactive. 4 to 8ms is decent but 12 to 16ms is ideal for HD movies and gaming.
Some of the extra ‘bells and whistles’ that enhance your device
- Smart TV – Has the built in ability to run internet applications such as Hulu, Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo, and Pandora. Requires an internet connection through an ethernet cable or built-in Wifi.
- Built in WiFi – Has the ability to wirelessly connect to a local network and gain internet access.
- 3D – Offers the option to view HD content on your HDTV in 3D with supported media and requires 3D glasses normally included. There are many 3D TV broadcasts, 3D video games and 3D movies available. If you purchase a 3DTV I highly recommend you to buy a 3D Blu-ray player.
- Curved – Ultra slim and sleek with OLED or 4K Ultra HD picture quality. The screen is curved to give you a top notch view from virtually any angle.
- USB port – This enables you to display media files such as pictures, movies, and music through a USB drive. You can even play HD movies this way on most TVs. This port is also a good way to transfer any file to the TV such as a firmware update download.
4K Ultra HD Features
- HDCP 2.2 (high bandwidth digital content protection) – A technology which was created to prevent illegal copying of 4K Ultra HD content. Every component involved including your TV, media player and the disk or file must support HDCP 2.2 in order to view the copyrighted content in full 4K Ultra HD.
- HDMI 2.0a port- HDMI port that enables you to transfer 4K Ultra HD signals to and from HDTV. There are many devices that were recently released with HDMI 2.0 that have online updates available to upgrade to HDMI 2.0a. Any high-speed HDMI cable will work great with this connection, no need to spend the extra cash on fancy cables. HDMI cables are just a pipeline.
- HDR (High Dynamic Range) – Enhances color accuracy and expands the range of contrast. It increases the range of how bright and dark colors get throughout every part of the image on the screen giving it a significant increase in depth.
- WCG (Wide Color Gamut) brings out a wider variety of colors making images more accurate to real life.
Find Your Flat Screen
Now that you know what you want out of your HDTV, it’s time to find the one that is made for you. Refer back to this Flat Screen TV buying guide to understand specifications for products.