Is it time to upgrade your TV? You’ll find everything you need to know about the latest TVs and the technology driving them, right here.

It’s not a sudden realisation, but more of a gradual acceptance that gains momentum over several months. But once the seed of doubt is planted, it doesn’t take long to germinate. However, it’s not until you walk into a store and behold the wall of visual temptation calling to your soul that you finally address the inevitable – it’s time to buy a new TV.

Buying a new TV used to be a simple exercise. It came down to three factors: budget, brand and how good the picture looked on the telly sat on a shelf in a shop. However, in 2022, it’s a completely different ball game with much more to consider.

Alongside the price, there’s the size, resolution, refresh rates, viewing angles, picture technology and smart functionality, to name but a few of the essentials to contemplate.

But once you cut through all the tech parlance and puzzling acronyms and understand what is available and what will best suit your needs and budget, the buying decision is made that much easier. Advancements in TV technology move at a fast pace, so if you’ve been out of the buying cycle for some time, it can feel like you’re woefully out of touch. This is where we come in. We understand that all the new, feature-packed smart TVs can seem overwhelming, so we’ve pulled together a quick and easy buying guide. In it you’ll find a simple explanation of all the latest terminology, and a showcase of the best new TVs from the biggest brands making waves for all the right reasons this year.

Cashola
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 reasonably 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.

Size matters
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. The last two years have taught us that it’s quite feasible to put together a complete home theatre set-up where you can enjoy a full cinema experience without getting out of your pyjamas and spending $100 on lollies. Pull out a tape measure and do the calculations on available wall space – you’ll never regret going bigger.

Close encounters
While saying that bigger is better, common sense suggests that you wouldn’t want to fit an 85-inch TV to the wall if you’re only sitting a metre from the screen. So it’s 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 recently bought new TVs – 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!

View to a thrill
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 – OLEDTVs 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 to 8K per pixel comparison

Learning the definition
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 ultilise AI to upscale/convert lower resolution video.

The smarts
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.

Appy days
Your new 4K smart TV will have many of the most popular streaming apps pre-installed (depending on the manufacturer and model), but don’t panic if your favourite one isn’t there. Simply select the Apps icon on the TV’s Home screen menu to find the app you want to install (Note: some TV manufacturers require you to open an account with them in order to download additional apps). For example, if you have an Android TV, select the onscreen Apps icon, then select the Google Play Store and search for the app(s) required – if the app isn’t free, the price will be displayed before you are prompted to install it.

STACK‘s essential 2022 TV buying guide – your portal to all the tips, brands and know-how!

 

Say what? Behold, our TV tech glossary

Aspect Ratio – The width and height ratio of the screen. TVs today have an aspect ratio of 16.9 – this means the width of the picture is 16 equal parts and the height nine.

Contrast Ratio – In a nutshell, the amount of onscreen detail in a blacks or dark colours

Dolby Vision – Dolby Laboratories’ proprietary HDR format that uses dynamic metadata

eARC – Enhanced Audio Return Channel

HD – High Definition

HDMI – High Definition Media Interface that transmits HD video and audio streams via a single cable

HDR – High Dynamic Range

LED – Light Emitting Diode

LCD – Liquid Crystal Display

Mini-LED – Light Emitting Diodes that are 75% smaller than regular LED

NanoCell – A filter layer designed to improve colour depth on LG TVs

NeoQLED – Samsung QLED TVs that use mini LED backlighting

OLED – Organic Light-Emitting Diode

QLED – Quantum Dot Light-Emitting Diode

QNED – A combination of Quantum Dot, NanoCell technology with mini LED backlighting used by LG TVs

Refresh Rate – The number of times a TV refreshes its frame rate every second, written as hertz (HZ).

Smart TV – A TV that connects to the internet

SD – Standard Definition

Viewing Angle – The maximum angle at which a TV screen can be viewed without losing brightness and colour vibrancy

UHD – Ultra High Definition

Upscaling – Increases the pixel count of low-resolution video to match the pixel count of a high-resolution screen.

1080p – a picture resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels

4K – a picture resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels

8K – a picture resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels