TV Buying Guide - How to buy the best TV set for yourself

By Dhriti Datta | Published on 29 Jun 2020
TV Buying Guide - How to buy the best TV set for yourself
HIGHLIGHTS

Unlike smartphones TVs have a longer life cycle and hence, one should be very picky before buying one.

Knowing your need and the options under your budget is very important to buy the right TV.

This guide can help you pick the best TV set as per your need.

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Are you looking for the best TV for under a specific budget, but confused? It's because the process of TV shopping is getting more convoluted as the options are burgeoning over time. TV technology has managed to evolve to a point where even budget-offerings can surprise you with their quality. As consumers, you’re spoilt for choice and have an array of HD, 4K and even 8K sets to choose from.

So, if you find yourself in the store, scratching your head, wondering which TV you should ultimately go for, stop! And, read our guide on how to choose the right TV for yourself. And if you wish to go for the ultimate best without budget restraints, check our top picks for the best TVs in India.

What to consider while buying a TV?

Screen size 

The very first thing to consider is the TV size that you deem will be optimal for your setup. Try to figure out if this is going to be a TV the family gathers around to watch daily TV series on or if it’s going to be something for your personal use, to game or to stream your shows. 

Consider where you will be placing your TV. Then, depending on your budget and space you have available, you can go about finalising a size. Usually, for a medium-sized bedroom, 43-inches tends to be the sweet spot (adjust this if you’re room is smaller than usual or if your sofa set or bed is closer to the TV). For the living room, however, 55-inches to 65 inches is ideal. If your budget doesn’t allow it, simply move your sofa set closer and buy a smaller sized screen. A good rule of thumb is to sit at a distance three times the height of the TV screen for HD TVs and 1.5 times the screen height for 4K UHD TVs. This is because 4K TVs are visually less grainy than HD TVs at a closer distance. 

Screen resolution

TV resolution is one of the most integral decisions you need to make when you’re scouring the market for a TV. While the first wave of 8K TVs have just breached the market, an example being the Samsung Q900 8K TV, 4K TVs are still the sweet spot with no shortage of options in the market. Full HD (1920x1080) TVs were the industry standard for a while, however, most manufacturers are now throwing all of their resources into 4K models. They’re also becoming less costly, and you can get a pretty capable set for about Rs. 50,000. These have four times the pixels as FHD TVs and are significantly better in quality. 

However, if you do want to save your dough, Full HD TVs are also quite decent for their price, and most untrained eyes won’t even be able to tell the difference unless you sit considerably close to the TV. Although, the increasing amount of content that is being created for 4K, on Netflix, Amazon Prime and even YouTube, possibly warrants hiking up your budget a bit to have an overall better viewing experience. Additionally, most 4K TVs are also HDR compatible, which means you will get those darker blacks and vivid colours which definitely enriches the film-watching experience. 

Display type 

Popular types of display types in TVs include LCD/LED and OLED. Most of the televisions today are LCD LED sets. Essentially, these screens used LEDs to illuminate the LCD panel, hence the name. When buying an LCD LED TV, you must consider how the panel is lit. Some use edge-lit panels where LEDs are placed only on the edge of the screen.

On the other hand, you have full-array LED sets which have LEDs placed directly behind the screen and can light up or darken specific zones to represent light and dark areas in any scene. This is called active dimming or local dimming. This technology allows the backlight to be more precise and produces an overall better quality image chock full of detail. This feature was once only found on high- end and premium models but is now trickling down to the conservatively priced sets as well. Another LCD technology found in these sets is quantum dots which adds an additional layer of nanocrystal dots that allow for pictures with more colour and brightness. 

Now for the more exorbitant stuff – OLED TVs. These TVs replace the backlight found in LCD TVs with a layer of organic LEDs which can achieve true blacks (darkest blacks) and incredible levels of contrast. Manufacturers such as LG, Sony, Philips and others have some commendable OLED offerings. OLED panels are found exclusively in 4K sets and are much pricier than LCD LED TVs, however, the price is dwindling, especially with the introduction of 8K panels. Do note that OLED panels, while having the best-in-class contrast and deeper blacks, do not get as bright as LCD sets. They’re also notorious for ‘ghost’ images or burn-ins which happen due to displaying a static image for an extended period of time. QLED technology, usually seen in Samsung TVs, feature the quantum dot technology mentioned above. While these still look vibrant, they are not to be confused with OLED TVs. 

Refresh rate 

Refresh rate (represented in Hertz or Hz) tells you the number of times a picture is refreshed on the screen per second. The standard refresh rate is 60 Hz, however, 120 Hz TVs are also becoming common now. In fast-paced action scenes especially, a higher refresh rate definitely translates to more fluid movement. 60 Hz displays may be prone to jittery output during such intensive scenes. While there isn’t too much content sporting high frame rates per second, for now, High-Frame Rate (HFR) support is soon coming to films and sports events. If you’re a gamer, you may be tempted to purchase a TV sporting a high refresh rate, however, gaming consoles usually top out at 60 frames per second, so it makes sense to stick to those. 

Tip: Beware of the term ‘effective refresh rate’ since the actual refresh rate here is half the stated one. So, a 120 Hz effective refresh rate is actually the standard 60 Hz refresh rate. 

Connectivity 

Always remember to pay attention to the number of connectivity options a TV has to offer especially if you’re one to attach a bunch to devices to your TV such as a soundbar, a streaming stick, and a console. You will find yourself running out of HDMI ports very quickly. Also, try to opt for the newer HDMI 2.1 format since they offer improvements such as variable refresh rate support. With HDMI 2.1, you also get smoother gameplay and zero screen tearing when you have connected your gaming console to the TV. You will also have future-proofed your TV for upcoming 8K content. In addition to HDMI ports, you’d also want to look for USB, Wi-Fi and Ethernet ports. 

Smart TV 

Most smart TV sets today come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi to access services such as Netflix, YouTube, and to run other apps and play a few games. A few of the latest models can even search for content across several streaming platforms as well as live TV programs on cable or satellite. There are various operating systems and interfaces that power these smart TVs, including Google’s Android TV platform, Amazon’s Fire Edition TVs and others with native OSs. Most of these offer all the necessary features and apps, and you will need to do some research to find out which of these interfaces works for you. Beware of no-name TV OSs which clutter your smart TV experience with a barrage of pointless apps. Currently, LG’s webOS and Panasonic’s Home Screen 2.0 handle their apps and content most effectively. 

Sound 

When analysing the sound on your TV, keep in mind that the higher the wattage, the louder the sound output. It is essential, especially if you have a very spacious house and need sound to travel greater distances. The best thing to do is, play a couple of loud action scenes and then listen for the following – harshness to judge whether the sound is thin and distorted at high volumes, bass for those adrenaline-inducing action scenes, voices to check if they sound realistic and the amount of detail in the sound. Also, beware of TV cabinet rattle, directional distortion and a weird ‘pffting’ sound under pressure. Additionally, if you want the best sound experience, consider investing in a good sound system set up by choosing a decent soundbar. 

What not to consider while buying a TV?

8KTVs

8K is definitely a buzzword, both in the TV and smartphone segments, however, it makes little sense investing exorbitant amounts of money into it at the moment. 8K ramps up the detail even further than 4K, that’s true, with it being capable of delivering four times the resolution of 4K; however, the content for 8K is sorely lacking. There are no 8K films ready for purchase and streaming; furthermore, 8K will definitely be infinitely more taxing on your poor home internet connections. A few manufacturers have already brought out 8K televisions, however, let the early adopters with buckets of dough buy these pricey TVs for now. Right now, all you will get with 8K TVs is upscaled 4K content, which is honestly, not worth it. 

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Dhriti Datta

Perpetually sporting a death stare, this one can be seen tinkering around with her smartphone which she holds more dear than life itself and stuffing her face with copious amounts of bacon.

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