With many sporting codes currently playing exclusively in certain states to limited crowds, the lounge room has become a surrogate stadium for sports fanatics.
Watching your team on a massive screen in crystal clear Ultra High Definition is the next best thing to being there, but when it comes to choosing a winning TV, it’s not only size that matters. Here are some key features to consider when choosing a set that will deliver the ultimate sofa sporting experience.
A TV’s response time is a crucial factor when watching high-speed sports like AFL, or tennis balls being served at 150kph. You’ll want a TV that’s a smooth operator and can keep up with the fast-moving action, so look for a model that has a high refresh rate. Most TVs refresh at 50Hz, while premium 4K sets have a native refresh rate of 100Hz, which is optimal for smooth motion resolution. That means the screen image refreshes 100 times per second, thus reducing motion blurring and ghosting that can occur when a combination of fast camera pans and player and ball movement comes into play. The refresh rate can also be denoted as TruMotion, Clear Motion Rate or MotionFlow, depending on the manufacturer, but it all amounts to the same thing – no motion blur and a game that’s as silky smooth as Dusty Martin’s footy skills.
Just like attending a live game at a stadium, your enjoyment of a TV match is determined by where you sit. If you’re cheering solo and positioned dead centre, no problem. But the further you move to the side of the screen, the more the picture will decline in quality, so a TV with a wide viewing angle is a must – especially when it’s time to get the gang back together for a sports feast and a few beers; you don’t want to leave your friends on the outer, especially if you’re entertaining a crowd on kitchen chairs and beanbags skirting the periphery. OLED TVs are the winner here as they boast a wider viewing angle and will adjust to the room’s ambient light, and in this case bigger is of course better, with screens 65” and above reducing the need for standing room only. For optimal results, always remember to first assess the size of your room and the distance between the couch and the screen.
COLOUR AND CONTRAST
When you’re rocking Ultra High Definition with a 4K or 8K TV, you’re already on a winning streak in the colour and contrast game and HDR (High Dynamic Range), when available, pumps up both significantly to give the image a greater depth. Full Array LED delivers a similar boost, with different zones of backlighting adjusting the picture, resulting in more realistic brightness, deeper blacks, and an overall more natural-looking picture. Most LED/LCD TVs will see you comfortably in front, but OLED will give you the edge in terms of true blacks and colour gamut. QLED also scores if you have a bright room and less money to spend, offering superior contrast and colour balance, and bigger screens for your bucks. Moreover, adjusting your TV’s Dynamic Contrast and Colour modes can further fine-tune the image quality for better accuracy, and while many TVs offer a Sports picture mode setting, it’s worth testing the Movie or Cinema modes, too, as these can add a more naturalistic look.
Let’s face it, live sport broadcasts on free-to-air channels can be frustratingly limited, so the die-hard supporter will want the widest accessibility to live games and replays in HD. That’s where the internet connectivity of Smart TVs comes into play, opening up a world of sporting options, whether you’re streaming online, through an app, or using a dedicated sports subscription service like Kayo, which offers customisable picture-in-picture and split-screen modes that allow you to watch four different sports simultaneously on the one screen (if your brain can keep up). When considering a Smart TV for that sports fix, first check which apps and services are supported, and for those that aren’t, add-ons like Apple TV and Chromecast will easily widen your options.
No live sport on TV? Play your own!
If you love your sport and you love getting involved with it while parked on the couch, there’s a whole lot to look forward to coming up this year. PGA Tour 2K21 is already out and about, while basketball fans will find the realism of the just-released NBA 2K21 a slam dunk, while soccer fans are spoiled for choice with two options – eSports PES 2021 Season Update this month, or FIFA 21, which is out on October 9. If you’re into motor racing, two-wheel fans are sure to dig the motorcycle action of Ride 4 (October 8), while four-wheel aficionados get to fang it like mad in the crazy DIRT 5 (November 6). If skateboarding is more your thing, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 has just hit the streets, featuring the first two classic games remastered and looking like new. Alternatively, you can have mad fun getting your wrestling on with the arcade-amplified antics of WWE 2K Battlegrounds this month. Sport, yeah!
Big game, big screens
SAMSUNG Q900 SERIES
Samsung’s shiny new range of Q900 8K televisions offer a whopping 7680×4320 pixel resolution – that’s four times the number of dots making up an image than even 4K, the previous highest bar in home vision. One of the main benefits of 8K is if you’re looking for BIG screen entertainment, with Samsung’s Q900 range starting at a massive 65″, then progressing to 75″ and 85″. The big advantage here is in Samsung’s upscaling technology. This uses canny artificial intelligence to take a lower resolution source and enhance it for 8K viewing. On top of this, features such as “Ultra Bright III” and “Quantum dot technology” deliver a more intense picture that can be viewed clearly even in the most brightly-lit rooms. Meanwhile, black levels are also the deepest that Samsung have ever achieved.
LG NANOCELL SERIES
LG’s NanoCell range is built for sports fans, with ultra large screens up to 86” creating that stadium-like experience. Nanoparticles are utilised to filter and refine reds and greens, delivering overall improved colour accuracy – the green of the sporting field and your team colours will truly pop with lifelike vibrancy. Then there is the all-important wide viewing angle and Motion Pro to eliminate blur, as well as a Sports Alert function that sends notifications before, during and after the game for supported leagues. NanoCell 4K and 8K models also come equipped with ThinQ AI technology, which intelligently enhances the TV’s abilities – if you’re taking the game to the next level with 8K resolution, intuitive algorithms analyse the onscreen content and adjust it accordingly for optimal picture and sound, and will upscale and enhance the image when required.
SONY X90H FULL ARRAY LED 4K UHD SMART ANDROID TV
Available in 55”, 65” and 75”, it’s game on with this beauty! The minimalist design and narrow bezel immediately draws your focus to the onscreen action, and the Full Array LED delivers realistic contrast levels, while X-tended Dynamic Range™ adjusts brightness and deepens blacks. You’ll never lose sight of the ball and be able to discern individual blades of grass on the field with object-based HDR analyzing the colour of onscreen objects, adding greater depth and textures through individual remastering. It sounds fantastic, too, with tweeters positioned to optimise sound location for more precise audio immersion, and Dolby Atmos sending the roar of the crowd at you from all directions (Acoustic Multi-Audio is available on models 65” and above). X-Motion Clarity™ keeps play smooth, fluid and clear; Android apps are ready for subscription services Kayo and Optus Sports; and built-in Chromecast let’s you enjoy content from mobile devices, like season highlight reels on YouTube and your own sporting triumphs. The X90H also supports Apple Airplay and Apple Homekit, as well as connectivity with Google Assistant and Alexa. To use a sporting analogy, Sony’s new X90H is a bona fide premiership contender.
COMING SOON – HISENSE 100S8
You want big? You’ll get it this October with the release of the Hisense 100S8, which measures a whopping 100” – that’s a screen size of just over 2.5 metres! This 4K UHD OLED Smart TV features inbuilt Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, Dolby Vision HDR10 image processing, Dolby Atmos audio, and will automatically upscale streamed content to 4K resolution. Sports enthusiasts should consider this model not just for the size of the screen, but also the 100 Smooth Motion Rate function that eliminates motion blur and smoothing. And being an OLED, you’re guaranteed a wide viewing angle for those big game nights you’ll want to enjoy with family and friends.