If you are anything like me, you probably walk into your local electronics retailer and are totally baffled at the sheer volume of TV’s in there. Why are there so many to choose from? What can we possibly need from a TV that warrants this huge selection and variety?
Well, truth be told, you aren’t just buying a TV anymore. You are buying a device that is capable of delivering a variety of media and entertainment to your home. A device that is connected to the internet and is capable of far more than the old screen that has a few TV channels on it. You are now buying a SMART TV, and they’ve come a long way from the first release of smart TV’s, that to be honest, weren’t that smart.
So how do you choose a TV that is right for you when there is so much variety?
Here are my top 3 tips to selecting a TV that is right for you and your family.
1. It’s still all about picture quality
I’ve listed this as the first point, because despite what the new model TV’s are capable of doing, for most people the thing you will be doing the most with the TV is watching television… Shocking I know but it’s still the overwhelming number 1 use of the TV. Perhaps gaming is a close 2nd but even if you are racing a virtual Ferrari around some mountainous track in the Himalayas, you are still going to want excellent, crisp, quality picture from your TV.
So what do you need to consider with picture quality?
My advice, ignore the specs sheets for the most part. You will be confounded with stats for each TV such as refresh rate (120Hz, 240Hz, 600Hz etc), CRM, TruMotion, MotionFlow, SPS, display resolution (1080p, 1080i and 720p) and so on. Whilst some of this information is relevant and useful, all you need to do is take a really good look at the TV’s on display to understand the picture quality. So here are some hints to help you choose the TV with the best picture quality when shopping.
2. Bigger is better
It’s an age old argument, not just for TV’s, but it is an important one. In my view, with TV’s bigger is always better. There is simply nothing better than being totally immersed in your movie or TV show and with a bigger TV, this feeling just comes so much more easily. I would recommend a size of at least 32 inches for a bedroom TV and at least 50 inches for a living room TV (or your main TV), although 60 inch plus is even better.
Of course, you must first consider the space that you have to put the TV in and the seating arrangement. Second you must consider your budget, like most things, the bigger it is the more expensive it’s going to be.
So here’s how I’d sort through my choices:
3. Now what about all the other stuff…
In my view we’ve covered off the 2 most important factors of buying your new TV, but there is still so much more to consider to really cement the decision. I recommend covering all of the following off with your salesperson before you make your final decision.
Ok so it’s now almost impossible to buy a TV that doesn’t have some SMART functionality, so it’s part of your buying decision whether you like it or not. Now you may choose not to use the SMART functions on your TV, but you should still have a fair idea of how it works because a) one day you might find yourself accidentally inside the SMART menu and need to navigate your way out and b) in the majority of homes, there will be at least 1 person who will want to use the SMART features (particularly if you have kids in the home).
SMART technology and the apps available through SMART TV’s has come quite a way since the first released TV’s. In my opinion the new SMART features are getting better all the time, but still have a way to go to achieve excellent useability and customer friendliness. Some of the leading brands are doing this better than others, for example Samsung seem to be leading the pack at the moment as far as I’m concerned when it comes to the TV’s SMART functionality and user friendliness.
In my experience (and to be clear I am often installing and educating about 4-6 customers per day on using their new TV’s), retailers aren’t bothering to show customers how their TV’s SMART features look or function. In fact, most retailers don’t even bother having remote controls available for customers to test out the features and menus on the TV. In today’s market, I find this shocking. The user friendliness of the menu’s and functions on the TV is important and should be part of the customers buying decision. So if you are planning to spend your hard earned money on a new TV, I’d be asking to have a demonstration of the SMART features and menu options on the TV before buying it.
Trust me, I’ve had so many customers who I’ve installed the TV for and they are shocked or disappointed at the way that the SMART features work or the availability of particular apps with particular brand TV’s. For example; Spotify, Quickflix, Bigpond Movies, YouTube and other such apps may not be available with your brand of TV. If you know you want particular apps – you need to check that they will be compatible with the brand of TV you are using.
So, be SMART and ask to see the SMART features on your preferred TV before you buy.
The Remote Control
OK this one sounds a bit silly, but again, now days you aren’t just getting a remote control with labelled buttons on it… You are getting a SMART remote. Most of the 2014 model TV’s are only coming with the SMART remote (or clicker) which functions very differently from a traditional remote. In most cases they are interactive in several ways;
As you can see from this list, things have changed when it comes to remotes. If you aren’t too tech savy or have a preference about how you interact with your TV you simply MUST ask your salesperson to demonstrate the remote control.
Thanks to HDMI, connecting devices to your TV has become so much easier, almost everything uses HDMI connection. So all you need to do is simply count the number of devices that you plan on connecting to the TV and make sure that the TV you are choosing has enough (and I suggest a couple of extras for future proofing). This is not really a big deal these days as the majority of TV’s will have ample HDMI ports.
If you like the idea of displaying photos or accessing external content, USB inputs and an SD card slot are nice to have.
You only need to worry about analogue ports if you plan on connecting older devices such as Nintendo Wii.
If all new TV’s don’t currently have 3D capability, they soon will. In my view this should not impact your buying decision at all. I consider 3D just an add-on that the majority of people won’t use (or will use once or twice), after all there is very little content available to watch. If you are interested in 3D the only thing I’d be asking is how many pairs of glasses we get and how expensive is it to get extra?
Styling and Installation
We spend loads of energy selecting, buying and placing furniture in our homes that look great and function well, TV’s are no different. If you don’t like how it looks or don’t think it’ll fit with your décor, then you should probably keep looking.
If you are planning on setting up the TV on a cabinet, be sure to check your cabinet dimensions with the dimensions of the TV stand. Sometimes the two just aren’t compatible or pose a safety risk if not correctly sized.
If you are planning on mounting the TV on a wall, there are some different considerations such as wall space, mount type, viewing angle and such that you will need to consider. Take a look at our article Should I wall mount my TV? for more useful information about wall mounting.
With the new curved TV style, you may also want to pay particular attention to the mounting requirements and the room setup before deciding to wall mount.
I hope that this info has helped to make your TV shopping exercise a little easier and effective.
If you would like to talk to us about installing your new TV and connecting up all your devices, give us a call.
I get so many questions and calls from customers who just want some help or advice relating to their audio visual technology. I thought it would be a good idea to start capturing some of the common questions and try to provide an online resource for people to get information. So, I hope that you will find some of the information contained in these articles useful. I will try to add as many new relevant subjects as possible to keep you all in the know. I really do want to make AV easy for you too.