If you’ve been to a gadget store or even the electronics department at a big box retailer lately, you know the TV choices can be overwhelming. There are so many, and at first glance, they seem quite similar in terms of screen sizes and features. The manufacturers’ names and the corresponding price tags can seem like the only obvious distinctions, but there actually are some differences of which you’ll want to be aware before making your next TV purchase.
Brand specific models:
Smart or internet-ready TVs have become the standard. You can still buy a TV and never go online, but most televisions are internet ready to one degree or another. Some offer touch screen technology, while others are home network-ready or feature a built-in streaming platform, like ROKU. Wi-Fi capable sets are the most convenient.
HDR, or high dynamic range, is among the newest selling points with TVs. The intent is to deliver better, cleaner contrast in the display, including more striking color definition. HDR TVs are only able to offer this level of clarity with HDR-formatted content though, and content providers are still pretty sparing.
A few streaming apps, including Amazon and Netflix, offer HDR TV shows and movies now, and available HDR programming is growing. This makes HDR something to consider, especially if streaming video is a go-to for you. Just keep in mind any accessories or peripheral tech you have, including sound bars and Blu-ray or DVD players, must also be HDR compatible.
4K refers to the resolution with the horizontal display. Like HDR however, content producers are only just venturing into 4K, and streaming content providers dominate here. A 4K TV is an appropriate choice if you’ve already tossed cable, satellite, or other traditional providers to the curb or plan to do so soon. Just ensure your internet speed is up to the task at 25Mbps or higher.
Best TV Brands
The big brands in the market occasionally change, although certain manufacturers never seem to lose their standing. A survey of the options is bound to include a number of models from Sony, no matter where you’re shopping. A few new players enter the field now and then though, including TCL. Comparing the top performers in the contemporary market is essential to choosing the best new TV for your specific needs.
Sony is one of the longest standing names in the industry and continues to garner top ratings from consumers and industry experts alike. In terms of picture qualify, Sony often ranks number one, but you’ll pay for that qualify. If money isn’t an object, then Sony’s the way to go.
Samsung excels in terms of overall value, typically carrying a lower price tag and delivering exceptional clarity. Top models in the current series include those in the JS9000 and JS5500 lines.
LG is a solid player in the midgrade television market. Models usually perform better than other “affordable” brands like Vizio and Sharp but not as great as Samsung. LG can’t even touch the performance standards of Sony though. Regardless, LG is a good choice when you want a decent TV that won’t put a huge dent in your budget.
TCL TVs are gaining ground with consumers, largely because of their built-in ROKU capabilities. These televisions are certainly not the top of the line in terms of clarity or sound, but they will let you cut the cord on cable, Satellite or other, traditional paid TV, if that’s what you’re after.
LED vs. OLED
To make the right buying choice, you need to understand modern display technologies. After all, you don’t want to fall into the “next big thing” pit, only to be stuck with a dud like a plasma TV. Plasmas were once hailed as the newest, best, emerging tech. Within just a few years though, LCD technology won out. Now you’re hard pressed to find modern gadgets that will work with a plasma television, unless you’re willing to buy hundreds of dollars in converter cables, that is.
To avoid a similar pitfall, you’ll want to understand the primary differences between LED LCD TVs and the “next big thing,” which in this case is OLED. LCD, or liquid crystal display, TVs are still dominate the market, including LED, UHD, SUHD, or QLED. These all utilize the same tech: a LED backlight that illuminates all the pixels in the display simultaneously.
With OLED, on the other hand, every pixel in the display offers its own illumination. This fundamental difference, in fact, does deliver a cleaner, crisper, more life-like image, but the tech is very new and it’s hard to say how well it will fare. Like most emerging technologies, it could take the industry by storm and send LCD packing on the same path as plasma.
Industry experts agree that LED LCD TVs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon though. So, unless you’re willing to take the gamble and invest in one of the limited models with OLED (primarily LG and a few recent Sony options), then an LCD is your choice. You can always see how things play out and invest in an OLED the next time around, if you’re so inclined.