What should you look for when buying a TV for your home or office? Usually, the factors are the same for home and office with subtle differences. Here is a buyer’s guide on how to choose the best TV.
Choose the best TV: LCD or LED
The first thing to consider is LCD or LED. Actually, all LEDs are LCDs, but not the other way around; this is like saying that all lions are animals but not all animals are lions. Without going into the technical details of how LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and LED (Light Emitting Diode) work, when you want to choose the best TV, you can safely assume that LED is better than LCD. This is in terms of screen thickness, backlight, brightness, contrast, color, viewing angles, energy efficiency, and various other factors.
The world is moving towards LED and more sophisticated technologies such as OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) and QLED (Quantum-dot Light Emitting Diode). But, LCD TVs are still available and cheaper than LED. Hence, you can definitely purchase an LCD TV and enjoy it for many years to come before you need to upgrade.
Choose the best TV: Screen Size
The next most important factor is obviously the screen size. This is usually dependent on the size of your room. Typical recommendations are as follows:
Note that the above recommendations are for a standard living or bed room. Obviously, a large TV in a small room means that you will have to move your head to focus on specific objects, for example the ball in a tennis match. Frequent movement of your head in a 3-dimensional sports stadium is ok, but definitely not comfortable or ergonomic when you are watching a 2-dimensional television screen in your living room. However, this also depends on the type of your room; requirements for the waiting lounge of your office or chamber or other places may be different.
The screen size is measured diagonally. But, along with screen size it is also important to note the aspect ratio. Most TVs nowadays maintain the 16:9 ratio. Thus if the width of the screen is 72 cm, the height will be 41 cm, in which case the hypotenuse or diagonal length from corner to corner becomes 82 cm, which is equal to 33 inches.
However, older television sets used the 4:3 ratio. Thus, there should be dark panels on the sides of your TV screen if you are watching an old movie or video which was made in 4:3 ratio on a 16:9 television. If not, the characters and objects in your movie or video will appear distorted, something that is definitely not desirable.
The following diagram from rtings.com will give you an idea of different combinations of screens and video/image ratios.
Choose the best TV: Resolution
In general, resolution may mean different things in different appliances and/or components. For TVs, resolution refers to the total number of pixels on the TV screen. The number of horizontal pixels multiplied by the number of vertical pixels is the resolution. Here is a chart of the various terminologies:
|Horizontal x Vertical
|Total No. of Pixels
|HD Ready, 480p
|720 x 480
|HD, High Definition, 720p
|1,280 x 720
|Full HD, FHD, 1080p
|1,920 x 1,080
|Ultra HD, UHD, 4K
|3,840 x 2,160
|8K, Ultra HD, UHD
|7,680 x 4,320
Here are some important points on how to choose the best TV resolution. Firstly, HD Ready is outdated and very few manufacturers make 480p TVs any more. Nowadays, most 32-inch TVs have close to a million pixels (HD, 720p). Most 43-inch TVs have over 2 million pixels (Full HD, 1080p). Most 50-inch TVs have over 8 million pixels (Ultra HD, 4K), which is gradually becoming a standard for TVs that are less than 50 inches also. 65-inch TVs normally have over 33 million pixels (Ultra HD, 8K).
However, more pixels doesn’t necessarily mean a better picture. There are other aspects of picture quality, such as contrast and color, that need to be considered in addition to resolution. High Dynamic Range (HDR) enhances the contrast and color accuracy. Look for TVs that support HDR formats, like HDR10, Dolby Vision, etc.
Choose the best TV: Refresh Rate
Refresh rate refers to the number of times the entire screen refreshes per second. There isn’t much to think about in terms of refresh rate since most TVs nowadays have a 60Hz refresh rate and this is the most comfortable for the human eye. However, if you intend to play video games on your TV then you might want to consider 120Hz since video games react faster than normal video.
When you choose the best TV, remember that Smart TVs are becoming the standard for entertainment. While smart TV technologies are continuously improving and upgrading, some of the basic features are:
- Internet connectivity. This is available via in-built Wi-Fi and/or Ethernet ports. Thus, you can browse the web and do most of the things that you normally do on the internet directly on your TV. There is an on-screen keyboard that you can access with your remote control or with touch-screen technology; maybe not as convenient as your computer keyboard but useful nevertheless.
- Streaming services. Most smart TVs have in-built apps like YouTube and Netflix. Some of the apps are free to use.
- Screen mirroring and casting. Smart TVs can mirror your computer or mobile phone screen wirelessly. This makes it very convenient for presentations which would otherwise require a separate projector and screen.
- Voice control. Instead of the remote control you can use voice commands to switch channels, increase or decrease the volume, brightness, etc. Many smart TVs have in-built Alexa which is the best voice control technology in use today.
Amazon Fire Stick
Smart TVs are more expensive than non-smart TVs. But, you can still enjoy some of the features of smart TVs if your non-smart TV has a HDMI port (see below for more information on HDMI and other ports). Amazon’s Fire Stick is a dongle that fits into your TV’s HDMI port and gives you almost all of the facilities of a smart TV. The only points to note are that:
- With a Fire Stick you will need to use 2 remote controls, one for your TV and one for the Fire Stick.
- While the Fire Stick can give you very high resolutions, it is still dependent on your TV’s resolution. Thus, a 8K Fire Stick with a 4K TV will restrict you to 4K resolution.
Choose the best TV: Ports
This is a very important part when you choose the best TV. The most important ports are:
- Coaxial cable connector. This is the normal cable connector which is now outdated because most cable operators provide set-top boxes which connect to the TV set via AV cables.
- Audio-Video (AV) connectors. These are normally 3 connectors colored red, white and yellow which are used by set-top boxes.
- USB ports. Sometimes you may want to use your pen drive or external hard disk to view some material on your TV for which you may need USB ports.
- HDMI ports. Similar to USB ports. The Amazon Fire Stick and other similar devices use the HDMI port.
- Ethernet. Used for cable connection to your home or office router. Though Wi-Fi routers are gaining popularity, cable ethernet connections are still much faster than Wi-Fi.
Not Visible Ports
- Wi-Fi. This is normally in-built and not visible from outside. Used to connect to your home or office Wi-Fi router for internet and other streaming services.
- Bluetooth. In-built, not visible from outside. Useful for connecting to your phone and other Bluetooth devices.
- Infrared. In-built, not visible from outside. Not very useful nowadays with the plethora of alternatives available, but still existent on many TV sets.
The above are all Input connectors. If you are planning to connect a home theater system or some other similar device to your TV set, then additional AV or USB connectors for Output would also be desirable. Also, do consider the position of the ports in relation to the stand/mounting of your TV set (see below for Stand & Mounting).
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Choose the best TV: Sound
Never expect good sound from a television set. Even in yesteryears when TV sets were bulky and had wooden cabinets the sound could not be great because heavy speakers would affect the other components housed in the same cabinet. Today’s slim TVs aren’t any better. The fact is that it is just not possible to house good bass and treble speakers inside TV cabinets. Some of the high-end TV sets do try to offer a decent sound system with a minimum of 20 Watts, Dolby sound, surround sound, etc.
However, that is not a prime factor when you choose the best TV. All things considered, to get good sound effects, we always recommend a home theater system connected to your TV set via cables or Bluetooth.
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This is a vital part when you choose the best TV. In your living room your TV set can be kept at the recommended height of 1.5m (5 ft) measured from the floor to the center of your TV screen. This is because you are normally sitting upright in your living room. However, when you are lying on your bed in your bedroom, your TV set needs to be higher up so that you can watch propped up with pillows. Please do make sure that you do not develop spondylitis for watching too much TV while lying in bed.
This is why televisions in hospital cabins are mounted fairly high, closer to the ceiling than the floor, so that patients can have a pleasant viewing experience. Similarly TVs in clubs or office/chamber waiting rooms may be mounted half-way between floor and ceiling.
If your TV is at lower height and placed on a table or in a cabinet (read our article on Interior Decoration) then the normal stands that come with the TV set are good enough. However, if you want to place your TV higher up, then you might need wall mounting brackets, preferably with horizontal and vertical tilt facilities. These brackets are different for different types of TV sets.
Also, do consider the position of the ports on your TV set. If the ports are backward facing then you will have to have clearance behind your TV to accommodate the cables; you may have to dismount the TV every time you want to change a connection. If the ports are side facing then you may not face such issues. Ports placed on the sides of your TV set are most convenient but definitely not good looking with wires or dongles sticking out.
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Anando Banerjee has been providing different types of services, as an employee and thereafter as a self-employed professional, to clients in multiple industries in various countries of the world since 1984. He has an MBA in Healthcare Management.