Buying The Best Smart TVs For Your Needs
People tend to gravitate towards the largest TV they can afford, but size isnt the only thing you should consider. A smart TVs operating system can be important. Sets made by Samsung, LG, and Vizio use proprietary software, whereas others use a third-party OS, usually , Roku OS, or Amazons Fire TV. Well elaborate on this in a minute.
Unless you’re getting a smaller set for your kitchen, gym, or home office, you should insist on a 4K HDR screen.
Most TVs have an LCD/LED display panel, but if you want the ultimate in picture quality you should consider spending extra on OLED, which offers superior color representation and deeper blacks. If OLED is too expensive, you can get most of the way there with Mini-LED.
Typically you should insist on 4K resolution unless youre getting a smaller set for your kitchen, gym, or home office. 4K is relatively cheap now, and there are already TVs with 8K. Were steering most people away from 8K just because its insanely expensive with very little native content. Owners of 8K TVs are more often watching upscaled 4K.
HDR is de facto on both 4K and 8K products, but its important to check format support. Cinephiles will want a TV with Dolby Vision, or at least HDR10 Plus, which offers enhancements over the more basic HDR10 standard.
What Is 4k/uhd TV
With few exceptions, every mid- and large-size TV today offers Ultra HD or 4K resolution. A 4K model has at least four times as many pixels as an older HDTV . If your TV is big enough or youre sitting close enough, you will see a big difference in detail compared with older TVsas long as youre watching 4K content, which is widely available on original series and movies from Amazon Prime Video, Netflix , Disney+, iTunes, and YouTube.
Theres no point in looking for a big, cheap, 1080p TV anymore. With few exceptions, all new big-screen TVs are 4K TVs.
Where To Place The TV
If you dont plan to mount your TV to a wall, you should consider what kind of stand it comes with. The stand design will determine what kind of furniture you can safely rest it on. Nowadays, manufacturers tend to favor two-legged, wide-stance stands that require you to place the TV on a surface thats nearly as wide as the screen itself. Some TV makers still use center-mounted pedestal stands that allow you to place a larger screen on a smaller piece of furniture, such as an end table, but those designs are becoming increasingly rare among more-affordable TVs.
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Hdr: Get It If You Want The Most Colors
HDR is a relatively new feature of 4K Ultra HD sets and it stands for high dynamic range, a reference to its ability to deliver more colors, more contrast levels and increased brightness. HDR is essentially an upgrade of the 4K, or Ultra HD, format . For this new feature, TV makers are christening new monikers for the sets to distinguish them from standard 4K Ultra HD TVs.
For a more complete discussion of HDR standards, and which you should look for when buying a TV, check out our article ‘Don’t buy a TV until you read this guide to all those HDR standards‘.
The basic standard for high-dynamic range content is called HDR10, as set forth by the UHD Alliance, an industry trade group. Dozens of companies are supporting this basic minimum specification for HDR compatibility, so you will see “HDR10” or “Ultra HD Premium” on compatible TVs. Every HDR TV will support HDR10 at the very least.
Dolby Vision is a more demanding version of HDR, created and licensed by the folks that brought us Dolby noise reduction and surround sound. It includes dynamic metadata that adjusts the HDR effect on a frame-by-frame basis, so the results are much more accurate and impressive. So far, Dolby Vision has led the industry in terms of proprietary HDR formats, and can be found on premium models from most brands .
Similarly, Dolby Vision is more widely supported on UHD Blu-rays at the moment but there are more HDR10+ UHD Blu-rays becoming available.
So Which Is Better Ultra Hd Premium Or Dolby Vision
Based on the specs alone, it would appear that Dolby Vision TVs would deliver a better HDR picture than Ultra HD Premium TVs. And a set that’s Dolby Vision-compatible should also be able to handle the lesser requirements of Ultra HD Premium.
However, that may not always be the case. Manufacturers that don’t choose to license Dolby Vision technology may nevertheless make TVs that exceed the HDR capabilities of Dolby-labeled TVs. That means that there may be sets with an Ultra HD Premium sticker that look superior to other models with a Dolby Vision label.
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Great Image Quality For The Price: Best Lcd/led TV
Buy a midrange LCD TV if:
- You want quality for a reasonable price: Good LCD TVs offer excellent picture quality, solid preset image modes, easy on-screen navigation, and plenty of inputs for under $1,500.
Buy another type of TV if:
- You want the best image quality possible: An OLED TV will provide a clear, truly lifelike image with perfect blacks and bright highlights, but youll have to pay for it.
- Youre on a tight budget: If youre willing to compromise on image quality to save some money, consider our budget pick.
- You dont have very much space: If youre looking for a TV to fit in the corner of your small bedroom or dorm, get a 32-inch model.
Why we like it: The Hisense U7G is a great-looking TV equipped with all the necessary technologies and features that any modern 4K LCD/LED TV needs in order to stand out. A full-array local-dimming backlight provides superb black levels and image contrast, while a 120 Hz refresh rate helps the U7G deliver better motion quality than many competitors. The U7G also handles high dynamic range video with aplomb thanks to its high brightness and rich quantum-dot color. For serious gamers, Hisense has added all the HDMI 2.1 features necessary to take full advantage of the newest gaming consoles. Finally, the U7G features the Android TV streaming platform, which offers a wide variety of streaming services and a continually improving user interface. For what youre paying, the total package boasts notable value.
What TVs Have The Best Picture Quality
We consider the best picture quality for the money a sort of holy grail in the quest for a new TV. It’s still consistently the No. 1 thing TV shoppers cite as important to their buying decision.
If you don’t place as high a priority on PQ, you’ll get the best value by simply sorting a list of TVs by price along with the screen size you want, choosing the cheapest from a brand you trust and calling it a day. Or at least skip to the next section of this guide.
After nearly 20 years reviewing TVs, we feel comfortable conveying some generalizations we’ve observed about picture quality:
In sum, picture quality is more complex than just counting pixels or reading a spec sheet, and your best bet is to read reviews, such as those at CNET. Hopefully you can also get the chance to see a good TV in person along with someone who can explain why it’s good.
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Samsung Qn90b: The Best Gaming Smart TV
Sony, LG, and Samsung all make excellent smart TVs for next-generation gaming. Were going to give the edge to the Samsung QN90B, available in 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models. Thats a much wider size range than the A95K, and it uses Mini-LED instead of OLED, which keeps pricing reasonable.
When you connect a console like the PS5 or Xbox Series X, the TV snaps into Game Mode. That includes Samsungs customizable Game Bar, which shows information about HDR, frame rate, and more. If you hook the QN90B up to your PC, Game Mode lets you switch your aspect ratio to 21:9 or even 32:9 to simulate playing on ultrawide desktop monitors. Motion-related tech includes variable refresh rate, plus support for Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro.
The pricing below is for a 65-inch model, but you can already find discounts, and you can save hundreds more by choosing smaller sizes.
Sony A95k: The Best 4k Smart TV
The A95K only ships in 55- and 65-inch versions, and its definitely on the pricey side for something without 8K, but you still get what you pay for. That includes the Cognitive Processor XR, which is one of the most powerful chips inside a TV right now. Beyond image quality, the tech aids AI upscaling and XR OLED Motion, essentially Sonys version of a 120Hz refresh rate.
The A95K is further equipped with Google TV, the enhanced version of Android TV, as well as special features for PS5 owners like Auto HDR Tone Mapping and Auto Genre Picture Switch. Youll still be able to take advantage of standard HDMI 2.1 gaming features if you connect an Xbox or PC.
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Tips And Tricks For Buying A Used Smart TV
When buying a used TV, try to examine it in person before purchase if possible. This is to give you an opportunity to see if there are any damages, whether all the ports are in order and well if it actually works. Theres always some risk involved, even with the most reputable merchants.
This is especially important since warranty is, in most cases, not a given when buying a used Smart TV. A huge chunk of such purchases are based on a verbal thus not binding contract. So, before you hand over the money and take your TV home, you have to be sure what condition its in.
Which TV Brands Offer The Best Software And Security Support Policies
Security and software support is an important consideration when buying a smart TV, since this will dictate how long the brand aims to continue updating the device with new features and security patches, to guard against emerging threats.
We reached out to the biggest brands in TVs, including LG, Samsung, Panasonic and Sony, to see how long they supported their TVs. Unfortunately, many are falling well short when it comes to support periods.
- Hisense – China’s biggest TV brand supports its TVs for an impressive eight years from launch.
- Sony – along with Hisense, Sony offers the longest support period of eight years.
- Panasonic – with a five year support period, Panasonic patches its TVs for longer than LG and Samsung.
- LG – despite being one of the leading TV brands, LG only supports its TVs for two years. It did tell us that TVs may get up to five years for critical security vulnerabilities.
- Samsung – according to Samsung’s website ‘most TVs will get updates with new features for about two years‘.
Philips, TCL and Toshiba did not provide us with information on minimum update support periods.
We know people keep their TVs for between seven and 10 years which means only Hisense and Sony get close to supporting sets for what might be considered a typical lifespan. LG and Samsung, as the biggest brands, fall alarmingly short, with Samsung’s two years of updates particularly poor.
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Let’s Consider All Things Great And Small
What size TV should you buy? Its easy to be lured into buying a new TV with talk of 4K resolution, high-end smart TV features, or fancy speaker arrays. However, if you havent got the right TV size for you, you can end up with an over-sized display that you keep walking into, or a way-too-small screen that you have to squint to see from across your living room.
Getting the right TV size for you will depend on your individual needs, as well as the needs of your home, the size of the room you plan to put it in, the number of people that will be watching it at any one time and, of course, how big your budget is.
You might know vaguely that you want a humble-sized small TV or something super-sized, but there are plenty of different TV sizes to consider at a variety of prices in the middle. But even then theres a lot to think about. If a mid-sized TV is what you’re after, do you want the flagship 55-inch size, or is a 49-inch the largest you can fit on your counter? Are you desperate for one of the best 65-inch 4K TVs, but scared it might dominate the space?
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The average television is getting bigger and bigger every year, and our expectations of size, suitability, features and TV tech are constantly changing too.
If you’d rather search for a new TV by price band instead of size, you might want to check out oursmart TV prices guide instead.
When Should I Buy A Smart TV
With all technology, there’s always something new around the corner such as 8K. Simply put, you should buy a smart TV when you need one.
If your existing TV has failed or you want to upgrade, check out our guides for more information on what would work best for you.
It’s worth considering whether you also want to go for a QLED or OLED TV too.
While new TVs are launched quite regularly amongst the main brands, it’s often worth hanging back and buying last year’s models. They’re usually available for a lower price and the improvements are typically incremental rather than substantial.
As ever, it’s worth looking at the differences between a new model and the version it’s replacing. The introduction of Samsung’s Ultra Viewing Angle technology was a big boon for its high-end QLEDs as is the implementation of Mini LED on new Samsung TVs but other updates aren’t nearly as notable.
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K Is Here But Don’t Worry About It
A TV with 8K resolution has twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of 4K, for a whopping 7,680×4,320 and 33,177,600 total pixels. Not only is that four times the total pixel count of 4K, that’s an incredible 16 times more pixels than 1080p.
A few TVs with 8K resolution are available today, but we don’t recommend them. They’re expensive — the cheapest in the US is a 65-inch TCL for $2,100 — and there’s nothing in 8K to watch today. Moreover, from what we’ve seen they don’t provide much, if any, picture quality improvement compared to 4K TVs.
In the future 8K TVs will surely get cheaper and more mainstream, but it will be years before they’re worth considering for all but the richest TV buyers.
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What Comes After Hdr Should I Wait For 8k
As TV makers and movie studios get accustomed to the new format, better TVs and more finely crafted HDR-mastered movies are bound to appear. However, today’s TVs are better than yesterday’s TVs, so there’s no reason to avoid buying a set.
For several years, there has been discussion about, and experimentation with, so-called 8K televisions delivering double the number of pixels as 4K Ultra HD. However, it’s never gone beyond experimentation.
“The big problem is not making the displays,” Gray said. The problem is that the data rate necessary to transmit 8K is “gigantic,” he added. Not to mention, an 8K set would have to be giant for viewers to appreciate all of those extra pixels.
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Which Is Better Uhd Or Led
It is vital to keep in mind that Crystal UHD TVs typically have issues with color shifting, despite the fact that LED TVs may have greater screen uniformity issues than Crystal UHD TVs.
Therefore, if you are primarily concerned in bright screens and rich colors, an LED TV can be the best choice for you because their color displays are more vibrant than those of other types of televisions.
What Is A Smart TV And What Can It Do
The word ‘smart’ is getting a lot of use with TVs these days and it’s constantly changing. This refers to whether it can connect to the internet and home networks, like your computer or smartphone.
You should go for a smart TV from a top-tier brand, as the smarts in cheaper TVs tend to be poorly implemented. The most important thing is to make sure the TV has the smart functionality you need.
A connected smart TV can:
- stream media from your computer to your TV over your home network
- connect wirelessly using Wi-Fi Direct, where the device makes a one-to-one network connection so you can watch whatever is playing on your smartphone while it remains in your pocket
- use apps like Netflix, Stan, ABC iView and more to download to your smart TV, so you can watch online content without purchasing an additional device such as Apple TV, a games console or a Blu-ray player
- automatically apply security and system updates to improve the TV’s features and performance.
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