A Modern Guide to TVs
The process of shopping for a new TV can be daunting. Having a little background knowledge before hitting the showroom floor at your favorite big box store can save you time and money. So, we’ve put together a very basic buyer’s guide for the TV market today.
Plasma TVs used to be very popular due to the vividness of their picture. The downside of these TVs was the
reflective screen caused by the sheet of glass covering the TV panel. This pushed them to become common for basements and other low light areas.
LCDs became popular and replaced plasmas in most applications because their screens had less reflection. LCDs, on the other hand, did not require a sheet of glass. The downside of LCD was that they did not have the same richness of colour as plasmas.
To increase the quality of picture in LCDs, the light bulb that illuminated them was changed from fluorescent to light emitting diodes (LEDs). This created the LED subclass. To clarify: all LEDs are LCDs, and in most cases they are thinner and brighter. Most TVs available today are LED, offering vivid picture quality with minimal reflection.
OLED TVs are an attempt to further increase picture quality and use a similar technology to plasma. They are not yet popular, however, for a few reasons. Firstly, their life span is not as long as LEDs and there is a high defect rate in models manufactured. Secondly, they are more expensive. Anticipate this technology to be improved and the prices to drop.
1080P vs. 4K vs. UHD
1080P has been out for years, is considered high definition, and is found in Blu-Ray movies, on Netflix, and on some high definition cable packages. However, if you have high definition cable, it is not necessarily at 1080P. To find out I suggest Googling your cable company or giving them a call.
TV resolution has been improved from 1080P in two ways; 4K and UHD. 4K is a production standard and UHD a broadcast standard. To simplify,consider both of these resolutions approximately four times that of 1080P, and their differences minimal. This means that for every pixel or dot that make up the picture on a 1080P it has been split in four, or quadrupled. This increases the capability of detail in a picture tremendously.
While 4K and UHD have not yet become a standard for movies or cable, there are some benefits to buying it. Firstly, it’s only a matter of time before the technology goes mainstream. Secondly, there is currently content out there; Netflix offers a few shows that were filmed in 4K. Lastly, these TVs have up-conversion capabilities, meaning they will take content that is not yet 4K or UHD and try to enhance to look better than 1080P. Personally, I have watched Game of Thrones in high definition on a Sony 4K TV, and it did a decent job in up converting and it did look better than 1080P.
Video essentially puts pictures together and scrolls through them. The refresh rate of a TV refers to the
smoothness of this process. Think about drawing a person jumping on a notepad. On each page you draw the person a little higher. Now think about flipping through the pages – the quicker you do so the more real the motion seems. This is the same idea behind refresh rate.
refresh rate for TVs is 60Hz. Some have a higher refresh rate of 120Hz or 240Hz. The difference that this makes to the video is that motion becomes a bit clearer. The best example to see the change is in scrolling text such as a stock or sports ticker.
The refresh rate is increased by creating new and additional frames that decrease the changes between each still picture. While this can improve picture quality there is also a chance of the video looking unnatural, as if you’re watching actors on a film set, rather than the finished product. This is called the “soap opera effect,” though it is less common in the latest TVs.
Smart or dumb TVs?
Smart TVs can do basic computer functions. For example, they have WiFi internet access built into them. They also have the ability to perform certain actions, usually through preloaded or downloaded apps. These often include Netflix, YouTube, Cinema Now and more. Some smart TVs even feature a web browser that lets you surf the web.
Although this option can be super convenient you can get the same type of functionality with digital set top options like Apple TV and Chromecast. The draw back with taking this route is that you’ll end up with one more remote to juggle through.
3D TVs allow viewers to watch regular 2D content as well as 3D content.
Watching 3D content you requires 3D glasses, a 3D player and 3D content.
There are actually 2 types of 3D glasses, passive and active. Passive 3D glasses are what you find in movie theatre. They’re cheaper and you can even use the ones given out at the theatre. Active 3D glasses require a small battery to power them. Some argue that the active option provides better image quality but passive is becoming increasingly more popular due to comfort and price.
Some 3D TVs also have the capability of simulating 3D by upscaling 2D content. This does not provide the same depth or accuracy you would expect from original 3D content but it does open up your existing library to the world of 3D.
These are the features and categories you should keep in mind while shopping for a new TV.
TVs are similar to cars. Its nice to have all the bells and whistles but you need to ask yourself do i really need them? Hopefully our guide will help you narrow down your search and allow you to pick what’s going to matter to you most.