Choosing a new TV is one of the most challenging decisions you can make. The average consumer replaces their TV every three years; an awfully long time to put up with a mediocre set. You need to get it right first time.
If your head fills with white noise whenever you think about technology, we can help. We’ll narrow it down to the essentials: what you need, how it’ll suit your lifestyle, anything that might enhance your TV and its performance. Whether you’re buying or just browsing, we hope to give you food for thought.
Before we dive into pros and cons, here’s a basic but important factor: your TV’s size. Consider your room’s measurements. Certainly it’s worth taking your tape measure along to the shop so you can compare.
Too many people are bowled over by a widescreen. They’re so blown away by the picture and superior experience, they don’t remember their lounge is tiny till they get home. Alternatively, they might go for a dinky little model and realize too late they can barely see it.
What size have you been comfortable with in the past? Do you want the TV to be the focal point of the room or to hide it away? What do you watch? All these points need to be taken into consideration before you splash your cash. Generally speaking 32 to 42 inches is the best size for your living room, while bedrooms are better off with 19 to 26 inches.
LED VS Plasma
To put it simply: an LED TV is an LCD backlit with light emitting diodes rather than CCFL (cathode fluorescent lamps). It’s been gradually nudging out the older plasma TV, but hasn’t managed to replace it altogether.
Which should you go for?
Consider where and how you’ll be sitting. LED works best in a bright room: as well as standing up to ambient light, it prevents screen reflection. Alternatively, if your lounge is on the dark side, the plasma might be a more suitable choice. If you watch sitting head on, an LED might not be for you; thanks to the narrow viewing angle, the picture quality is compromised. Size is a factor: you can’t get a plasma TV that measures less than 42 inches.
If you’re a sports fan or intent on a cinema quality picture, go for the plasma. Not only is the plasma less likely to suffer from motion blur, the light won’t leak from one pixel to another as sometimes happens with LED.
Once the stuff of science fiction, 3D TV offers a more complete viewing experience than ever. It comes in two types:
Active Shutter: Showing every pixel, these offer superior viewing quality. Recommended if you’re a gamer or watch hi def Blu ray. Their viewing glasses are battery operated, the shutter motion enabling you to receive the 3D image. Pricier than the alternative.
Passive tech: Recommended if you’re watching ordinary 3D TV. Again, you need to wear glasses, rather like the ones provided by cinemas.
It seems to boil down to personal preference. Some viewers are turned off by active shutter glasses, saying they can see them whirring. While the passive 3D glasses are more comfortable, some people find the visible interface lines distracting, detracting from their enjoyment.
Do you want your entertainment provided by a single hub? Smart TV makes this a reality: not only can you watch conventional TV and movies, you can stream radio, podcasts and games from all over the web. BBC Iplayer is one of the highlights: you can access seven days’ worth of radio and TV shows, including HD channels.
The one drawback is its performance as an internet browser; until manufacturers have come up with a solution to make it less fiddly, you’re better off using your laptop or smartphone.
Getting the TV home is only the start. Have you thought about how you’re going to display it to its best advantage? TV brackets come in all shapes and sizes, whether flat or tilted; whether you want to view it from all angles or simply mount it on the wall, the right one is out there. If you’re nervous about making a mistake, many retailers set up the wall mount as part of the installation service.
Indeed, why stop there? Why not upgrade to Freeview, allowing you to catch up with all the shows you’ve missed? Or indulge in some speakers, giving you the surround sound experience you crave?