How to Choose a New TV

It may be early 2019, but choosing a new television is the same as it’s always been- a little overwhelming. There are often huge price variations for televisions of the same size. Sales staff have a habit of using complex-sounding terms and phrases. It can also be easy for you to be left feeling unsure whether the extra features are really worth the cost. Also, some manufacturers can be prone to making exaggerated claims regarding picture quality, simply to entice you to spend more.

This guide is an attempt to simplify the whole TV purchasing experience and help you narrow down your choices. It won't make you an expert on all things television, but it will provide you with the basic information to be able to confidently pick out your next set.


When is the Best Time to Buy?


Early in the year sees most of the newest TVs arrive in the shops. Prices are usually at a peak at this time. You’ll see prices start to fall as the year progresses. November is a good time to buy if you can wait that long, especially on Black Friday and afterwards. The high-end models will be much more affordable at this time of year.


Although it's true that technology is moving at a rapid rate, a late 2018 television won’t be that much different from the latest 2019 models. It will be a little cheaper though, and you’ll still find the essential features such as HDR and 4K video support etc..


If you want the best deal on a 2019 TV, then you'll be interested to know that Black Friday in the UK falls on November 29 this year and it’s a fact that almost every TV set is subject to price reductions, even the big-name brands. The prices usually stay lower right through the holiday season and into the New Year.


You can expect to see price drops of between 25 and 40% compared to spring prices when the new models first come out. Budget televisions don’t usually get marked down by much at any time because there’s little wiggle room for discounts. The bottom line is, unless money is not an issue, wait until November.


Do the Specs Really Matter?


Most of the specifications can safely be ignored. You read that right. You can assume that a TVs spec sheet is just there to confuse you. This is a clever marketing attempt to entice you to upgrade and purchase a more expensive model. The important figures are in the Inputs and the Weight/ Dimensions section.


The spec sheet will help to a certain extent when trying to decide between two TVs based on their features such as HDR or smart capabilities. It will not help with determining picture quality.


Size Matters


Bigger is better. If you plan on viewing your television in the bedroom, pick one that is at least 40 inches. For a lounge or family room, don’t go smaller than 55 inches, and get 65 inches or more if you possibly can. Increasing your screen size will give you better quality over and above the other features like 4K resolution or HDR. People who are dissatisfied after purchasing a new TV are often disappointed that they didn’t get a bigger screen. Very few people complain that their screen is too big!


If you already have a home entertainment centre, be sure to take measurements before going shopping. Leave a minimum of an inch all round for adequate ventilation. Alternatively, ditch the old cabinet and buy something larger.


Which Features Count?


Just about every TV these days comes with a couple of features that do make a difference, specifically, 4K and HDR. 4K resolution is otherwise known as UHD, short for Ultra High Definition. These TVs have four times the number of pixels as standard TVs, which normally have 1080p resolution. Although this sounds important, it’s actually difficult for the human eye to recognise the different levels of sharpness between 4K and HDTVs. However, 4K televisions are easier for manufacturers to produce, which explains why their prices are dropping quickly. Also, many of the big screen TVs today have 4K resolution as part of the package.


Since about 2017, most 4K TVs also have HDR compatibility. HDR gives you improved colour and contrast. When looking at an HDR picture, you’ll definitely be able to see an improvement in quality when compared to HDTV.


Of course, your content will need to be actual 4K or HDR as well. Just because a TV is HDR compatible doesn’t mean it will give better performance with another source. If you’re streaming from Amazon or Netflix, you’ll notice that they offer some of their content as 4K or HDR. This applies to most of their original movies and series. You can also purchase 4K HDR films from iTunes, for example. Alternatively, you could buy a 4K Blu-ray player plus discs to watch with it. Although the amount of 4K compatible content has grown hugely in the UK, there still aren’t any actual 4K or HDR channels.


Curved TVs


Curved TVs have been around for a few years. They promised superior, “wraparound” viewing very much like you’d experience in an IMAX theatre. However, in a lot of models, the curved effect is hardly noticeable and then only if you sit exactly straight in front of the set while viewing. We suggest that they’re not worth the extra money.


Big Brands are Best


When it comes to brands, try to get one of the “Big 4” which are Samsung, LG, Sony or Panasonic. Steer clear of cheap fringe brands and especially of “supermarket brands.” They may be a lot cheaper, but their quality is lacking. What you can take away from this article is that all the top TVs are 4K with HDR. If you buy a model with a large screen, you’ll likely end up with 4K anyhow, and quite possibly HDR as well.

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