The perfect TV for you depends on what you love to watch and how you like to watch it.
This buying guide will help you to understand the different features televisions can have and will answer the important questions that will help you decide on the right model for you.
As well as helping you to pick the best TV, this guide will also help you to complement your new set with a range of accessories. From sound bars and home cinema kits to cables and wall mounts, we’ll make sure you have everything you need to build your ideal entertainment system.
Screen size is measured diagonally from corner to corner and only includes the actual visible screen itself, not the surrounding bezel.
You can go bigger than before
Thanks to narrower bezels surrounding TV screens, you can fit more screen in the same space as you used to be able to. A modern 50” TV takes up roughly the same size as a 42” TV did back in 2008, so if it’s been a while since you bought one, consider going up a few sizes.
How far away will you be sitting?
If you’re not sure where to start, think about where you’ll be watching from. If you can work out how far away you will be, you can use the diagram here as a good rule of thumb for TV screen size.
The figures on the diagram are just suggestions, and the size of your TV is ultimately down to personal preference. If you need more help we have also developed the TV Size Finder app. It has been designed to help you choose the perfect size TV for your room.
Picture quality is probably the single most important factor when considering your next TV. The key things to consider are:
- Resolution – simply put, this is how many pixels the TV screen is made up of. Generally, the higher the number of pixels, the more detailed the picture quality will be.
- Processing rate – this is how fast the TV processes the screen changes. The higher the processing rate, the smoother the picture will be even in the most action-packed events such as films or sports.
4K or Ultra High Definition TVs are the latest advancement in TV technology. These TVs have up to four times the number of pixels of a Full HD or 1080p TV, meaning you get an image that is up to four times sharper than a standard Full HD TV.
A Full HD TV has just over 2 million pixels comprising the picture (1920p horizontally x 1080p vertically).
A 4K Ultra HD TV has over 8 million pixels comprising the picture (3840p horizontally x 2160p vertically).
With all these additional pixels making up the picture on your TV screen, the brightness of the colours, the sharpness of the images and the overall clarity of the picture are vastly improved. Most premium 4K TVs will upscale standard content into near 4K quality – look out for TVs with HEVC video compression for upscaling technology. Watching content that was shot using a 4K camera will give the most true 4K picture and allow you to fully benefit from this technology.
More and more content is now becoming available to view in 4K. Blu-ray players that upscale standard Blu-ray discs to 4K quality are now available, whilst 4K Blu-ray discs are currently set to be available by the end of 2015. Currently, streaming services such as Amazon Instant Video and Netflix offer the best chance to view in 4K. For example, Netflix now shoot all their own produced shows in 4K, and there are also 4K videos on YouTube. We recommend broadband speeds of over 20 Mbps to view buffer-free, and your TV will need to have a HEVC decoder to read the compressed files.
Most brands also offer a choice of 4K content as part of the TV operating system. Each brand is different so it is worth researching what they offer, or speak to a colleague in store.
TV processing rates work in much the same way as your computer processor might. If you watch lots of sports or fast-paced movies, the number of scene changes are frequent and these put a strain on your TV. The higher the TVs processing rate, the easier it handles these quick changes.
Traditionally, processing rates were always measured in hertz (Hz) but you’ll now find different manufacturers measure them in different ways such as PMI or PQI so comparing across brands can be tricky.
TV technology has evolved significantly in the past few years, dramatically improving your viewing experience.
The key things to consider are:
- Screen technology – LED or OLED? Both technologies provide bright, vivid colours when watching. OLED, however, is the latest in TV technology and produces deeper blacks and a smoother image, along with reduced motion blur.
- Curved screens – Developed to deliver a more immersive viewing experience for everyone watching, regardless of their angle, as well as offering the latest colour and depth enhancing technology.
Other things to consider are the colour and finish of the bezel and the TV’s base stand.
LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes whilst OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diodes. Both refer to the way your screen pixels are lit to create the colours and contrast of the images on your screen. OLED is the latest technology. The pixels create their own light source to make up the picture. This means that they can turn themselves off completely in order to show the deepest blacks. LED screens on the other hand have a backlight which is shone through an LCD panel to produce the individual pictures.
- Richer and more vivid colours and contrast
- Lower energy consumption than LED
- Excellent quality pictures at all viewing angles
- Screens are generally thinner
- More choice of TVs as LED is easier to produce
- Usually cheaper in price
- Produces great picture quality
Curved screen TVs have a science behind them, not just a pretty design. Modeled to recreate the way our eyes create peripheral vision, curved screens produce a much more immersive and engaging viewing experience as you use them. To make the most of the curved TVs, the best place to sit is directly in front of it so you can get the full impact of the concave display. This gives you a greater field of view and sense of depth and also vastly improves contrast for an exciting and versatile entertainment solution.
- Curved screens deliver a more immersive viewing experience
- Images have more depth and contrast
- The best experience comes from larger screen sizes (46”+)
- LED and OLED are both technologies used to light your TV screen pixels, providing rich colours and contrasts. OLED is the latest technology
Smart TVs connect to your home internet connection, allowing you to browse applications and additional content that you may not otherwise have access to. In addition, Smart TVs can often connect to other Smart devices such as phones and tablets, enabling you to easily share content from one device to another.
As well as receiving standard channels, a Smart TV allows you to access online content via the internet using applications (apps) built into the TV. All Smart TVs will have a ‘homepage’ where you can find all of the options available to you. You can stream your favourite TV shows, movies and more and watch on your TV at a time that suits you. All you need is access to your broadband network either via WiFi or Ethernet cable.
You can watch TV programmes from catch up services such as BBC iPlayer and All 4, as well as movie streaming options from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Different brands have different apps available on their Smart TVs, so check before you buy.
You can also access social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, YouTube for video sharing, plus a whole host of other lifestyle and news apps. Certain TVs also support Skype, which requires a webcam.
Some Smart TVs enable you to connect via WiFi to your smartphone, laptop or tablet allowing you to share your personal content on the big screen. You can also connect devices such as a Smart keyboard or a Smart remote. In many cases your smartphone can become your remote.