How to Choose a TV, According to Science – 11 Factors to Consider

Choosing a TV can be frustrating and distressing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There are plenty of models on the market that offer unique features most people would like. But not everyone prefers buying based on what’s available and popular, right?

When you’re considering buying a TV, the only electronic that is going to be the centerpiece of your home, it’s important to think about certain factors. The type, size, shape, and durability of a TV makes a big difference.

And for some of you, choosing a good TV comes down to the basics and nothing else. As with any large electronic purchase, what really matters is how advanced and sturdy the TV is. So TV-shopping is not the same as shopping for a dining table or a couch. You need to know the important aspects of a TV to be able to buy one for yourself.

1. Which Type Of TV Should You Buy?

The first thing you need to know when choosing a TV is the kind of models available on the market. If you’re looking for a brand-new TV with upgraded features, going for a flat screen TV instead of a standard box TV is ideal. (1)

Here’s what you need to know about the different types of television available on the market.

Conventional View Tube: This is also known as a direct view television. It comes in a cathode ray tube which is about 40-inches in size. It’s bulkier and heavier in shape and build than any other model on the market.

But research has it that conventional view tube televisions offer good picture quality that lasts for a lifetime.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD): You will tons of variations on the market for an LCD television. The two most popular types are flat panel and rear projection televisions. Flat panel TVs are thin, lightweight, and convenient for people living in smaller houses.

It also acts as a computer monitor during presentations in corporate offices. People who use flat panel LCDs experience a decent response time and many display effects for versatile viewing.

LCD works by blocking light to give a higher, more accurate quality image. In comparison to a LED display TV, the LCD TV has a slower response time.

LED: LED televisions are more advanced than LCD TVs. It works by emitting light rather than reflecting it back, like in LCD televisions. The LED TV has plenty of advantages over LCD because of its faster response time and brighter image quality.

OLED: OLED TVs offer impressive LEDs pixels for a stunning level of brightness and contrast. Larger television screens offer OLED technology with Ultra HD resolution and quicker response time. If you’re using an OLED television, you will see deeper blacks, detailed shadows, and higher contrast levels than normal standards.

Curved Screen: Curved screen televisions often come with Ultra HD resolution and sharper picture quality. They offer a more immersive TV experience than any other technology.

However, buying curved screen TVs has more disadvantages than advantages. For example, it distorts the image while cutting back side-viewing angles around the screen. This reduces the overall field of vision from across the room and it negatively affects the uniform brightness of the screen.

2. Considering The Right Size

For an unparalleled viewing experience, the size of your TV matters. The first thing you need to measure is the viewing distance, which is the measure of how far you’ll be sitting from the television screen.

Because of modern TV advancements, you can sit much closer to your TV screen for more detail and clarity. While the general rule of thumb is to avoid sitting so close that you might damage your eyes, today’s TVs offer better contrast and brightness features for comfortable viewing.

The best way to determine the right TV size based on the viewing distance is by dividing the total distance from the TV (in inches) by 3. So if your viewing distance is 120 inches, divide that by 3, so the correct TV size for you is 40 inches. (2)

If you’re looking for a TV for more crowded rooms, anything above 40-inches is ideal. This is when you’re seated at least 5 feet away from the TV screen. If you’re sitting 7.5 feet away from the TV screen, you should consider buying a 50-inch screen for an immersive viewing experience.

The thing to remember is that you shouldn’t lose your grip on the details and contrast of the television screen. This can happen with an increased viewing distance and smaller television screen.

The next factor to consider is the viewing angle. Just like the viewing distance, the TV must be placed parallel to your eyes for an unparalleled viewing experience. The TV must be not more than 15 degrees vertically aligned and 40 degrees horizontally aligned. This reduces negative image and you get a better contrast view.

Another interesting factor to consider is room domination. According to CNET, your TV should be the only device dominating the room it’s supposed to be placed in. You can measure this by cutting a cardboard copy of your desired TV size and place it in different corners of the room. (3,4)

After knowing what actually works for you, you can adjust the viewing distance and angle based on its actual TV size.

3. Do You Need A Smart TV?

Apart from considering TV size and type, another important factor to consider is whether you want a smart TV. Smart TVs are more popular now than ever! If you want better control and versatility, buying a smart TV is a good choice. (5)

So here’s what you should know about choosing a smart TV over standard technology.

Before anything else, a smart TV is something that allows you to access a wider range of movies, TV series, and even games. You can connect your smart TV to the internet and other network-based media content sources for better viewing. Users can access the internet, stream live videos, movies, music, and other types of content easily.

With it, you can subscribe to internet streaming services, watch scheduled cable or satellite shoes, and record movies, TV shows, etc. with ease. However, they do cost more and demand better maintenance as opposed to standard TV technologies. But considering its effectiveness and versatility, it’s worth the investment.

The fact that more and more people are opting for smart TVs, “cord cutting” is a trend TV viewers follow. Many consumers have abandoned using cable or satellite service to access TV programs, movies, music, and other videos altogether. Instead, they’re opting for internet media content for their entertainment.

Other kinds of media content such as gaming, web browsing, and online shopping are also included in some smart TV packages. Purchasing a TV with smart features is different than purchasing a smart TV. The former has limited features with lower visual quality and clarity.

On the other hand, you will never find a low quality smart TV ever. It comes with high-quality speakers, a larger screen size, and more attention to detail than standard TV technologies.

4. Do You Want To Wall Mount Your TV?

Mounting a TV might seem fancy, but there’s a lot to consider before you decide to mount your flat screen TV. The benefits of mounting a TV on the wall are many. It saves floor space, allows better viewing adjustability, and it can be viewed from every corner of the room.

Here’s what you should know before choosing a wall mountable TV.

Does it have sufficient room?

If you’re anything like the average TV viewer, you must have a gaming console and other many other devices hooked up to your TV. So you need to make sure you have sufficient room for extra components and wires.

All these devices need to be kept close to your TV’s port so there aren’t any installation problems.

A good ideal would be to place your new TV over a compact, but spacious shelf. So your gaming console, cable box, and DVRs are placed in a single, convenient spot under the TV wall mount.

Opting for cord-concealing

This dictates the cord maintenance of your TV. Even without any additional device, your TV offers plenty of cords to deal with. And mishandling them in any way might lead to damage or improper connection.

It’s not good to let all your cords hang in the air, behind your television screen. Just because they’re out of sight doesn’t mean they’re away from harm. Here are a few things you can do to keep the cords safe.

  • Have a professional install the cords inside the wall, if it’s possible.
  • You can get a power outlet that holds all the cords together, behind the television, so they don’t dangle.
  • There are plenty of cord hiders on the market that allow you to camouflage the cords using a cover or a cover kit.
  • If you have many devices to connect to your TV, check if you can install each component behind the TV. This is only applicable for views with 1 or 2 components.

There are plenty other factors to consider when choosing to wall mount a TV. This includes port accessibility, viewing angle, and the weight of the TV. If your room’s foundation isn’t strong enough, mounting even a lightweight TV is risky. So it’s better to look into all these factors before making a decision. (6)

5. Understanding Speaker Quality

You will notice a major difference performance when comparing the speaker/sound quality of a TV. Unless you’re willing to use a home theatre system with external speakers, paying close attention to speaker quality is important.  

Most modern TV brands come with a standard sound quality measurement, which is in Watts. This standard of measurement helps you decide the level of loudness, clarity, and reach of the speaker quality.

But there are other ways to determine the sound quality of TV speakers. For example, you need to check how many speakers TV has. And the precise configuration system of those speakers. This is helpful because it lets you decide how a TV is going to sound like for a very long time.

If you find a TV with 2.1 speaker configuration, it means that the main speakers with “.1” bit dedicated with bass speaker quality. If it’s 3.1 configuration, it would mean that the center or dialogue channels of the speaker is 100% directed to the dedicated bass speaker. So this means more quality audio performance.

It also helps to look for a TV with subwoofer configuration settings. This means your TV will not struggle to produce sounds on the lower depth level of the spectrum.

TVs that come with speakers that are positioned below, which means the sounds reflect downwards, should be avoided. This is because the downwards sound movement causes indirect and unclear audio performance.

What you should be looking for are speakers that fire sound forward rather than to the sides. That way, the audio performance is clear, crisp, and sufficiently loud to hear, even from a distance.

Modern TVs have gone so far as to include soundbars for better audio performance. They are either fixed on each side of the TV, above and below, or behind the screen for unparalleled audio quality.

There are some soundbars that are placed independently, sitting next to the TV or outdoor TV screen frame for surround sound performance. One other thing, look for a TV that allows DTS or Dolby Digital Surround sound quality. But make sure the brand doesn’t invest too much power into their speaker system as that compromises video performance.

Any TV brand offering DTS technology need to restrict themselves to certain standards otherwise their sound quality goes bad. You do not want speakers that sound too harsh or muffled during intense action scenes or while playing music. 

It’s important to ensure that your TV’s speaker system is kept away from an area most likely to collect dust, hair, or moisture. (7)

6. Is It HDMI-Ready?

For those of who don’t yet understand what HDMI is- it is a versatile all-digital cable wire that lets you connect two devices together for seamless video mirroring. You can connect TVs, players, receivers, gaming consoles, and many other devices that are HDMI-ready.

Most HDMI cables offer both audio and video connectivity, making it simple to set up a home theater system with the right TV. Most modern TVs offer HDMI connectivity with all HDMI-ready devices including laptops, consoles, media players, and more.

You need to ensure your TV supports high-quality HDMI for better data transfer speeds and media streaming. If you’re buying an Ultra HD TV, it comes with 4K Ultra HD plus HDR media streaming, which permits higher bandwidth.

If you’re using the HDMI setting for longer time, you need to consider seamless signal purity. And the only way to do that is find the right TV with accurate HDMI components. First, find your HDMI cable based on the distance between your TV and the device you’re connecting it to. If you prefer an in-wall HDMI cable, that’s if your TV is wall-mounted, ensure the cable is weather sealed and durable.

The last thing you’d want to consider for HDMI connection is connectors. Look for HDMI with tighter connectors. This helps you maintain cords and wires and keep them secure when using a full-motion smart TV.

Most TVs come with at least 2 HDMI ports for better connectivity. It’s important to take such inputs into consideration. For example, TVs that offer HDMI ports also include USB and SD card slot inputs. These ports offer media streaming and photo display alternatives, which is great for most TV viewers.  

Remember, all HDMI cables are built the same. The way an HDMI cables works is by Transition Minimized Differential Signaling. So expensive or cheap, all HDMI cables work the same and get the job done at faster and more efficient speeds.

7. Considering The TV’s Refresh Rate

A TV’s refresh rate is, as the name suggests, the number of times a picture on the TV screen is refreshed, in a second. It is measured in Hertz or Hz. The higher the refresh rate of a TV, the better the video performance.

For smooth picture quality, the refresh rate is the only factor you need to look at. Nothing else describes the TV’s impeccable picture quality than the refresh rate. (8,9)

For example, the standard refresh rate of a TV is 60 Hz. But this measure might seem a bit tricky on LCD or HDTVs, as fast-moving objects might look slightly blurry. Buying a standard, non-LCD TV with a refresh rate of 60 times per second is ideal. But for more advanced TVs, looking for a refresh rate of more than 60 Hz is recommended.

Brands with TrueMotion sensors feature a refresh rate of 120 or more Hz. This means the TV refresh each frame 120 times in a single second. Seems pretty impressive and adequate for high-end televisions, don’t you think?

Moving forward, you should also know that many TVs sets handle refresh rates differently. You can test how a TV performs under rapidly-moving objects is by inserting black images when media streaming via USB connection. If the TV’s screen produces blurry variations in between the black picture and original picture display, it means it boasts of a lower refresh rate.

Another way to test this factor is to show two separate movements on the same screen. Both displays need to feature realistic-looking motions. This tests the video processing speed of the TV, giving you a complete sense of understanding of the refresh rate.

In case the display screen looks flat and poorly lit, it’s time to upgrade to a TV with a high refresh rate. Another pointer- look out for labels such as “effective refresh rate” on the manufacture ratings. If you find that a particular TV has a refresh rate of 120 Hz, but comes with “120 Hz effective refresh rate” tagline, it actually means it’s half of the said refresh rate. (10)

8. Comparing Different Contrast Ratios

Contrast ratio is important because it dictates how well your TV can handle both bright and dark images, independently and at the same time.

Consider this factor similar to that of a camera’s sensor. Before purchasing a camera, you make sure that it is able to handle the brightest and the darkest conditions without producing blurry and muffled images.

Now, for TVs, this makes sense because you don’t want to strain your eyes to try to look beyond the blur of your TV screen. A good contrast ration of a standard LCD TV is around 600:1. TVs that go above and beyond in terms of video and audio performance offer a contrast ratio of at least 1000:1. This is mostly the case for high-end plasma televisions.

With a contrast ratio this good, you won’t lose sight on bright and dark display conditions. Plus, it offers clarity, attention to detail, and the smoothest frame of motion.

Research suggests that Backlit LED TVs offer a better contrast ration than Edge-lit LED and LCD televisions. You will find the best contrast ratio on a plasma TV, which offers incredible picture quality.

Although, there is no fixed standard for contrast ratios because it all depends on the type and size of your TV. A smaller TV with a higher contrast ratio might produce extremely loud picture quality, which might hurt your eyes. But it’s good to assess the contrast ratio of each TV you consider.

Some modern TVs allow you to make contrast ratio adjustments in terms of brightness. While low-range TVs face more difficulty in producing deep blacks and clear visuals, having brightness adjustments can result in a more personalized and comfortable display. (11,12)

9.  Comparing Different Aspect Ratios

It’s not that complicated to compare different aspect ratios of a television. In fact, if you dislike one, there are many more to choose from in a TV. The aspect ratio dictates the width and height of your display. It has no influence on the picture quality, contrast, or color.

To be fair, the aspect ratio is the most basic measurement for your TV’s display screen. And you will find it everywhere from your laptop screen to the projector’s monitor.

The simple analogy of aspect ratio is that the wider the display, the better picture quality for films. So if you plan on watching movies the most on your new TV, choosing a wider aspect ratio comes close to watch you view in a theatre. You wouldn’t want to leave out certain bits of the movie, right? A wider aspect ratio will avoid that from happening.

The most common and effective aspect ratio is 16:9. It’s better than good for films and widescreen movies with action-packed scenes. But if you want something more defined and large-scale, going for 2:4:1 is perfect!

According to a research, HDTVs work best with 16:9 aspect ratio. It helps optimizing better picture quality while keeping up with the standards of modern, widescreen movies. (13)

This research dictates how aspect ratio plays an important role for setting up a home theatre system. So the best way to opt for a decent TV is to opt for a wider aspect ratio that doesn’t stretch or compress the original size of any media.

10. What Kind Of Inputs Does It Have?

This is something most TV viewers ask when buying an upgraded television for the first time. Everybody wants to move ahead when it comes to buying advanced electronics, so why should you hold back?

Modern TVs offer incredible HDMI, USB, and SD card inputs for versatile media streaming services. The more inputs a TV has, the more you can use it to your advantage. That’s as simple as it gets.

With the right kind of inputs, you can connect your TV to a gaming console, projector, monitor, laptop, or even your phone for mirroring and streaming. The most common connectivity input on any television is HDMI or DisplayPort inputs. This allows you connect via a cable input that you need to purchase separately and connect to a compatible device in less than a minute!

Also, if you want more advanced features for connectivity, some TVs come with Digital Content Protection standards for connecting with Blu-ray players and other high-bandwidth devices.

The only primary inputs you need for any TV are HDMIs, USB ports, and multimedia ports. When I say HDMI, what I’m talking about is v2.0 HDMIs, and not v1.4 HDMIs. This is the most compatible and HDMI-ready configuration found in most multimedia sources.

For USB connectivity, opt for 3.0 USB ports, preferably more than 2. This allows both photo and video compatibility with USB drives include hard drives and pen drives. Multimedia support also includes Ethernet ports for internet connectivity. Modern smart TVs allow such connectivity for better navigation, media streaming, and versatility.

11. Where’s The Remote Control?

Every television comes with a basic remote control for navigation. Unless you buy a universal remote control model off the internet, requesting for a brand-specific remote control means longer shelf life and compatibility.

Look for a remote control that’s portable, lightweight, and has precise button controls. It should come with straightforward gestures; a remote that has a good command over what you’re handling on the TV’s display.

Nobody likes to spend more than a few minutes figuring out a remote control. So the simpler the remote control, the better.

If you’re purchasing a more high-end remote control, features like a touchpad, voice or gesture control, and trackpad are common. But for more standard remote controls, it’s a clicker-only model with each button dictating its stated purpose.

For example, smart TV’s remote control comes with a built-in microphone that makes it easy on you to navigate through various apps and games. So you can simply say what you want the TV to do and it recognizes your voice and follows your commands.  

You can even pick up smart Bluetooth remote controls for your plasma or smart TV for better accessibility and control. (14)

Conclusion

Now that you know the basics, you can choose a TV without feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with information. If a salesperson asks you what you need for your home, you can put into words all the features you desire to have in your TV.

Starting from the type of television you want, you can look for a television’s smart features, picture quality, sound quality, aspect ratio, brightness, viewing angle, etc. easily. The last thing you need to ask before signing the check is extended warranties.

You can save a lot of money with extended warranties. The way to do this is to contact your credit card company for price protection policies on buying electronics. Meanwhile, you can get to know more about the TV’s warranty and manufacturing details. If it’s a latest model, you are more likely to have automatic purchase coverage.

Looking for a brand that offers good warranty, preferably for one year, is a wise way to make a purchase. A lot of factors such as seasonal discounts and offers matter when you’re making a large purchase. So, if you plan on waiting for the “discount season” to buy at a fantastic price, that’s okay too!

You might be able to track prices online, but based on what you want bargaining for a decent selling price is inevitable. And this will only be possible if you know the basics of choosing a television. You can cut back unnecessary costs, opt for extended warranties, and still pick up an incredible television set for good.

All this can happen, only when you choose to research what you wish to buy with the help of this handy and informative guide.


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