There’s a great deal of excitement involved when the hunt for a new TV begins. But along with that excitement comes a bucketful of questions – especially if it’s been years since you’ve updated.
Like any consumer technology, advancements move at a dizzying pace, so even if you’ve only been out of the cycle for a few years, a lot has changed in that time. You’ll find all the answers you need right here to help you make an informed buying decision.
One of, if not the biggest driver in making a buying decision on a new TV is price, so having a budget in mind before you start shopping is a good place to start. If you’re looking for a TV that will just perform the basics, you can expect to get away pretty lightly at the register. However, to take advantage of the leap forward in technology and get the very best out of your visual experience, expect to pay a little more. The good news is that even top-tier TVs are now more affordable than ever.
A decade ago, 55 inches was deemed to be a large screen for a TV, but now it really is a case of the bigger the better. 2020 taught us that it’s quite feasible to put together a complete home theatre setup where you can enjoy a full cinema experience without getting out of your pyjamas. Pull out a tape measure and do the calculations on available wall space – you’ll never regret going bigger.
In saying that bigger is better, you obviously wouldn’t want to fit an 85-inch TV to the wall if you’re only sitting a metre from the screen. It is therefore important to consider how far your viewing position is from the TV. While you can find detailed equations to calculate optimum viewing distances online (a bit of overkill in our opinion, as it completely depends on your level of eyesight), you can actually sit a little closer to a 4K TV because of the smaller pixels. As a rule of thumb, multiply the screen size by 1.2, so a 65-inch TV comes out at 78 inches. Convert that to metric and you have a 1.99 metre optimal viewing distance. Alternatively, you can do what several of the STACK team did when they bought new TVs last year – go into a JB store, walk up to the TV display, pick the size you’re interested in and step back until you feel comfortable with the viewing distance. Count those steps, and voila!
This is an important consideration, especially for a big family or those who like to entertain a large group for sporting events or movie nights. The optimal viewing position for your big screen TV is dead centre with the middle of the screen ideally at eye level. But move to the side of the couch or room and you may experience a reduction in contrast and less vibrant colours. This can vary depending on the type of screen you’ve chosen – OLED TVs will deliver consistent image quality from every angle, while some Samsung and Sony models feature Ultra-Wide Angle and X-Wide Angle, respectively. Like the aforementioned distance test, you should also size up the viewing angle when checking out TVs in-store.
4K Ultra HD has rapidly become the industry standard for big screen televisions. 4K resolution comprises 3840 x 2160 pixels – that’s four times the amount of Full HD (1920 x 1080). Ultra HD adds more depth and colour resolution, resulting in sharper and more lifelike images. And the picture will remain crystal-clear, even if you’re sitting way too close to the screen. There is a lot of 4K content to enjoy, too, with a great range of classic and new release movies and TV shows available on 4K physical discs, as well as various streaming services offering a plethora of choice. Moreover, with many smartphones now sporting built-in 4K cameras, you’ll be able to enjoy the footage you’ve shot in stunning UHD on a big screen. 4K TVs can also upscale content that’s of lower resolution, which means your DVD and Blu-ray collection will look even better than it did in Full HD.
8K is sort of still the new kid on the block and offers another major leap in image resolution, delivering four times the pixels of 4K and 16 times that of Full HD. 8K boasts 7680 x 4320 pixels, enabling larger displays to maintain maximum image sharpness and clarity. Simply put, the more pixels-per-inch of screen, the sharper the image. Add HDR (High Dynamic Range) and a wide colour gamut and you’re looking at currently the best possible image quality, especially on larger screens 85 inches and up. Many 8K TVs utilise AI to upscale/convert lower resolution video.
A Smart TV connects to the internet, opening up a world of entertainment possibilities, and can also be integrated into a smart home ecosystem. Most Smart TVs offer voice control functionality with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, and many come with the most popular streaming apps already loaded and ready to browse. A user friendly onscreen interface makes navigation a cinch, and the powerful processors within can automatically adjust the picture and sound according to the environment surrounding the TV for the optimal viewing experience. When choosing a Smart TV, consider the kind of smart functionality that will best suit your needs.