Smart TV Buying Guide: What to Consider While buying Smart TV

Do you want to buy a new TV, and are you orientating? In this buying guide, you will find a complete overview of all the important properties you can pay attention to when buying a new television.

Here you can first read more about the most important specifications of a TV and then about a TV’s performance in practice. In the end, learn more about other properties, such as different TV brands and what to expect for a particular budget.

TIP: Also, check out the article “best TV” to select the best televisions of the moment.

 

What to look out for when buying a TV? The properties!

When buying a TV, there are many properties you can pay attention to. Below information and an explanation of these properties or specifications, with the main properties first.

Screen size

smart tv Screen size

If you want to buy a new TV, a handy first step is to think about the size. When choosing the size of a TV, you immediately run into the first problem: televisions’ size is expressed in inches of the image diagonal. And that’s a meaningless number for almost everyone.

That is why you can immediately read the definition of this size here and choose the right size.

  • The image diagonal is the size from the lower-left corner to the upper right corner.
  • One inch equals exactly 2.54 cm.

But to choose the right size of a TV, it is more convenient to know the width and height size of a TV.

What is the right size depends on several factors. The most important is the viewing distance. If you are far from the TV, a larger size is better, so that everything is still clearly visible. If you are close by, too large a size can be a disadvantage. If the TV is too big, too close, you will make a lot of eye and head movements to see everything properly. It’s exhausting.

That is why different experts give different rules of thumb for the optimal viewing distance. The average of the different opinions is roughly this:

  • Viewing distance more than 3 times the image diagonal? Then the TV is too small.
  • Viewing distance less than 1.5 times the image diagonal? Then the TV is too big.

However, this also depends heavily on your personal preference. Also, the amount of space available can play a role. Furthermore, it can play a role in the amount of space available and your personal preference.

Also, the resolution of the TV makes a difference with the optimal viewing distance. The advantage of a high resolution, namely more detail and sharpness in the image, is more clearly visible at a short viewing distance.

 

Resolution: 2K Full HD, 4K Ultra HD, or 8K UHD?

Resolution 2K Full HD, 4K Ultra HD, or 8K UHD

The resolution is the number of pixels a screen has at its disposal to display an image. The higher the resolution, the more detail the image has. And the more pixels per surface area, the sharper the image. The resolution is expressed in the number of pixels in width times the number of pixels in height.

Nowadays, for most images, and therefore for almost all TVs, the 16:9 aspect ratio is used. That is why the resolution is also a multiple of 16:9.

The four most commonly used resolutions for TVs are:

  • HD (High Definition): 1280×720 pixels – for old or tiny TVs
  • Full HD (Full High Definition): 1920×1080 – for small and cheap TVs
  • 4K UHD (Ultra High Definition): 3840×2160 – most commonly used resolution for new TVs
  • 8K UHD (Ultra High Definition): 7680×4320 – highest resolution for TVs, large and expensive TVs

If you are looking for a new TV now, it is recommended to go for a 4K TV. If you last bought a TV years ago, chances are this is a Full HD TV. A 4K TV has four times the high resolution to deliver a much sharper image clearly. The price of 4K TVs has already dropped considerably (in 2020), and 4K is now the most widely used resolution on new TVs.

Choosing an 8K TV doesn’t make much sense at the moment. Although the 8K resolution is visibly sharper with a huge TV, there is currently almost no 8K footage available.

The resolution in which the image is played on the TV depends on the source material. Many streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus, offer plenty of footage in 4K resolution. None of these services currently offer footage in 8K resolution.

Movies and TV series on Blu-ray are also available in 4K. The only readily available content in 8K resolution is some YouTube videos. That is why 8K currently has little added value.

However, some TVs can use ‘upscaling’. Here, the TV hardware calculates the additional pixels to sharpen the image. This also allows source material with a lower resolution to be sharpened.

For example, scaled Full HD image on a 4K TV is also sharper. Yet this is never as good as source material in a higher resolution. How good the scaled-up image looks depends on the hardware and software used to scale up. There is, therefore, also a difference between different TVs.

 

Type of screen: LCD LED vs OLED vs QLED

At the moment, two-screen technologies are widely used in TVs, namely LCD LED (often simply called LED TVs) and OLED. Below I briefly explain the differences and the pros and cons of both options.

The vast majority of TVs available are LCD LED televisions. LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, or ‘liquid crystal screen’. With an electric charge, the posture of the liquid crystals can be adjusted in a pixel. For example, the liquid crystals can selectively shine light through the green, blue and red subpixels. LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode, a type of lamps. On these screens, LEDs shine light from behind through the liquid crystals and the colour filters (backlight).

The advantages of these screens are the low price, the higher the maximum brightness. Because the liquid crystals can’t completely block the light, these screens have the disadvantage that a black pixel isn’t entirely black either. This has a detrimental effect on contrast. Not every LCD LED screen is the same, and some techniques improve the contrast of an LCD LED, such as local dimming.

Samsung’s QLED TVs are also LCD LED televisions. QLED is the marketing name of Samsung’s highest quality LCD LED displays. These screens, therefore, have much better contrast than an average LCD LED TV. That is why QLED TVs are currently best-LED TVs. However, the contrast of these TVs is also not perfect. An average QLED TV price is between that of a normal LCD LED TV and an OLED TV.

The second type of screen used in TVs is OLED. OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. With this type of screen, each subpixel itself emits light, and no backlight is used. Black is, therefore, really black on an OLED screen because the OLEDs in a black pixel are completely off. As a result, these screens have a perfect contrast. The perfect contrast is the biggest advantage of OLED. Another small advantage is that OLED screens, due to the lack of backlights, are thinner than LCD LED screens.

There are also disadvantages to OLED. A disadvantage is that there is a chance of image retention (‘burning’). This will only become one of the TV has to display the same static elements for a very long time, with high brightness. Also, the maximum brightness of OLED screens is lower, but these screens are easily bright enough in practice. With the best OLED TVs, the chance of burning is small, and the maximum brightness is high. Another important disadvantage of all OLED TVs is the higher price. At the moment, OLED televisions are considerably more expensive than LED TVs.

To make the price difference between these three types of TV screens more clear, below is the average price of TVs per screen type, according to Bol.com (on 5-Feb-2020):

LED TV: €440 | QLED TV: €1200 | OLED TV: €1,900

As you can see, QLED TVs are on average more than 2.5 times more expensive than LED TVs, and OLED TVs are even almost 4.5 times more expensive than LED TVs.

 

Smart TV Operating System

Smart TV Operating System

Most of the new TVs are so-called ‘Smart TV’. This means that these TVs can connect to the Internet, making more features available than just watching live TV channels. Almost all smart TVs can connect wirelessly to the Internet over Wi-Fi and have a LAN connection for wired connection.

You can use video streaming services on smart TVs, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and Videoland. Other apps are also available, such as YouTube, Spotify, and a web browser. Some TVs also support voice control, for example, with Google Assistant.

Exactly what apps and features are available depends on the smart TV operating system you use the TV. There are many different smart TV operating systems available. These are the three largest smart TV operating systems:

  • Tizen. This is Samsung’ssmart operating system. This operating system is used on 21% of smart TVs, making it the most widely used smart operating system. This has the advantage that there are also many apps available for it. Also, the user-friendliness of this smart TV OS is often mentioned as an advantage. A small disadvantage is that you have to create a Samsung account to use the Samsung app store.
  • WebOS. This is LG’ssmart operating system and has a market share of 12%. This makes it the second-largest smart TV operating system. A unique feature is the support of LG’sMagic remote’, which allows you to point at the screen to control a cursor. That can make operating faster. You can download apps from the LG Content Store, which you don’t need an account for.
  • Android TV. This Google operating system is used by multiple manufacturers, including Sony and Philips, and accounts for 10% of the market share. The biggest advantage of this operating system is the many apps available through the Google Play store. You need a Google account for this, and you can also use your current Google account for this. Tizen and WebOS’s difference is the layout; with Android TV, the entire Home screen contains app icons instead of Tizen and WebOS menu bar format. That makes navigating easier.

Only some cheap TVs do not have a smart operating system at all. However, you can also make these TVs smart (read how here!). A common option is to connect an Android TV box to a ‘stupid’ TV. For example, you can add the aforementioned Android TV operating system to your TV.

Tizen, WebOS and Android TV are all great operating systems with many apps, and therefore all three are a good choice.

However, several less common Smart TV operating systems support fewer apps, which gives them a considerable disadvantage. For example, Philips’ own smart operating system, Saphi, and Loewe’s operating system, LoeweOS, support fewer apps.

 

HDR Support

The Dynamic range is the colour range of the visible light, between light and dark colours, which can be displayed on the TV.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and has a larger colour range than SDR, or Standard Dynamic Range.

Video material with HDR contains the necessary information for playing this large colour range. There are several standards for this. The most commonly used standard is HDR10, but there are more HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision standards.

So an HDR television can play HDR footage from one or more of these HDR standards. Nowadays, most new TVs have HDR10 support. On this property, there is therefore not much to compare between different TVs.

 

Frame rate (50 vs 100 vs 200 Hz)

The frame rate indicates how many figurines TV shows per second. Most of the values used are 50 Hz, 100 Hz, and 200 Hz. 50, 100 or 200 frames (figurines) per second.

The more figurines a TV can show, the smoother the image seems. Especially with fast-moving images, such as a sports match, a higher-frequency display can look better.

For the smoother possible image, images with a high frame rate will also have to be supplied. Live TV broadcasts currently have an image frequency of 50 Hz in the Netherlands. Almost all films and TV series are recorded with an even lower frame rate; 24fps.

However, some TVs with a higher maximum frame rate can calculate and add the additional frames due to interpolation. This is often an option that you can turn on or off on a TV. This makes the image a little smoother. However, this does not work as well as actual source material with a high frame rate, which is still rare at the moment.

Where the frame rate can make a big difference is with gaming. The latest consoles, the Xbox Series X, Series S, and PlayStation 5, can display 120 frames per second.

Aren’t you interested in gaming? Then the frame rate is not such an important feature.

 

Flat or curved screen?

Almost all TVs currently have a flat-screen. A few years ago, a curved screen was hype. A curved screen can provide more immersion and a better sense of depth. This can improve the viewing experience.

The problem with curved TVs is that the viewing experience only improves if you’re in just the right place for the TV. Therefore, a curved TV is less suitable for viewing multiple users at the same time. Another drawback is that a curved screen creates more intense reflections.

A curved TV will also take up more space due to its curvature. If you want to hang it on the wall, there will always be space between the TV and the wall due to the curvature. Therefore, hanging a curved tv on the wall looks less tight than a flat TV that hangs on the wall.

Because of these disadvantages, flat TVs are still more popular, and many manufacturers have stopped producing curved TVs. So almost all new TVs are flat.

 

Tuner/receiver for live TV

Meanwhile, almost all new TVs have a built-in Tuner or receiver, which allows you to use digital television with your TV subscription. Because this is built into the TV nowadays, you no longer have to buy a separate decoder to watch digital TV.

This does not save money for the decoder’s purchase; it also saves a device and extra remote control. Almost all new TVs have a built-in tuner suitable for the HD versions of DVB-T, DVB-C, DVB-S. So there is little to compare on this property.

 

Connections

For the versatile use of your TV, a large amount of different connections is an advantage. Depending on the equipment you want to connect to your TV, other connections are useful. So check which devices you want to connect to the TV and whether the TV has the necessary connections for this.

Almost all TVs have a large number of usual connections. As for the available connection, the most common problem is that there are too few HDMI connections for all external devices. So, make sure that the TV has enough HDMI connections.

And does a TV miss a certain connection? Then that’s not a reason not to buy a TV. Adapters or inverters are often available. An adapter is an ‘adapter piece’, which ensures that it can still connect you to a certain external device. A converter, or inverter, converts the signal into a different form and can then transmit it to the TV via an available connection.

More information about possible TV connections? Click below to get more information about the most common connections and what they are used for.

 

TV Performance in Practice: Image and Sound Quality

TV Performance in Practice: Image and Sound Quality

At the specifications of a TV, you can not immediately be sure how good the image quality of a TV is in practice. For example, there are many different LCD LED panels available, which can perform differently on image quality. The sound of a TV can also vary qualitatively.

How good the image quality of a TV is can be expressed in different values or numbers. These can be specified by the manufacturer itself or can be read in test results in reviews.

At the moment, Koopgids.net does not yet carry out measurements on televisions. However, we keep a close eye on the test results of the above sites. We base our advice on these test results, the TVs’ specifications, and the current price of these televisions.

Below more information about the different values in which the image and sound quality of a TV can be expressed.

Image quality index

Some manufacturers use their own comprehensive value for this; for example, Samsung with the Picture Quality Index (PQI). But other manufacturers use a different value—for example, LG with the Picture Mastering Index (PMI).

Although you can compare one manufacturer’s TVs based on such an image quality index, it is impossible to compare the TVs of two different manufacturers. If you do, you need different values.

 

Contrast: contrast ratio/contrast ratio

The contrast ratio is the ratio between the brightest white and the deepest black a screen can display. The higher the contrast ratio, the better the image.

At a contrast ratio of 5000:1, a white pixel emits 5,000 times as much light as a black pixel. With different LCD LED TVs, there can be a lot of difference in the contrast ratio. OLED TVs always have a perfect contrast ratio (∞:1) because a black pixel with an OLED TV delivers no light at all.

 

Maximum brightness/brightness, brightness or luminance (nits)

The maximum brightness of a display is expressed in nits, i.e., Candela’s amount (derived from the brightness of one candlelight) per square meter (CD/m²). The maximum luminance of most TVs is between 200 and 1000 nits (CD/M²).

 

Colour range (gamut or colour gamut)

The colour range of a TV is the collection of colours that the TV can display. The colour range of a TV is always a lot smaller than the full-colour range that the human eye can perceive. With new technological development, the colour range of TVs is getting better and better. A large colour range can be seen mainly with HDR images.

Multiple colour spaces are widely used, which can be used to express the colour range of a TV. A common colour space is DCI-P3. A TV with 99% coverage of the DCI-P3 colour space has a larger colour range than a TV with 90% coverage of the DCI-P3 colour space.

 

Colour accuracy

The colour accuracy of a TV indicates how good a TV is to display the colour as it is intended—the better the colour accuracy, the more realistic the TV’s image. The colour accuracy shall be in the difference (delta, Δ) between the intended colour and the colour shown.

 

Viewing angles (also depending on panel type)

The viewing angle’s size indicates the influence of the viewing angle (expressed in degrees, °) on the colour accuracy of the TV. If you sit right in front of the TV, the colour accuracy is usually best, but when watching the TV at an angle, the image will discolour, and the image will also be less bright.

A good viewing angle is critical with a TV if you want to watch it with more people at the same time or from different seating areas.

 

Input Lag

The input lag is important if you want to use the TV in gaming. The input lag is the time between when your console, such as an Xbox or PlayStation, generates an image and the moment this image appears on the screen. Because with many games, you have to react quickly to what you see on the screen, the lowest possible input lag is a favourable feature of a TV that you want to play on.

 

Sound

In addition to the image, a TV also delivers sound, with built-in speakers. New TVs are often run as flat as possible. All new TVs nowadays are ‘flat-screen TVs.’

A flat TV disadvantage is that there is also little space available for internal speakers on a flat TV. For the good sound, especially for deep bass tones, you simply need large speakers. That’s why a lot of TVs have bad sound.

You can solve this by using external speakers, such as a home-cinema set or a soundbar. Because these external speakers are widely used, manufacturers know that consumers often do not pay attention to the internal speakers’ sound quality.

However, there are still several TVs where the sound quality has been taken into account. For example, there are several TVs with built-in soundbar or better and more internal speakers. For an overview of TVs with good sound quality, check out the article’s with good sound’.

 

Build Quality and Design

Physical properties such as the build quality and the design of the TV itself can also be important. It is always important to think about where and how to place the TV in terms of practical properties.

Do you want to put the TV on the included TV base? Then check whether this TV base fits your TV cabinet and if there is still room for any external devices on the cabinet—for example, a soundbar or a Blu-ray player or console.

Some TVs have a foot in the middle of the screen. The advantage of this is the smaller footprint, which makes it fit on many cabinets. There are also two-legged TVs on the ends of the screen. Due to the larger footprint, a larger TV cabinet is also needed for this. But the advantage of this is that there is often still room between these legs for a compact soundbar, a Blu-ray player or a console.

Some TVs have a TV base on which the screen can run. That is beneficial if you sometimes want to change the TV’s viewing direction or tune the television to a certain place perfectly—for example, the corner of your corner sofa. There are only a few TVs where this is possible on the included base (several TVs of the brand Loewe). Also, you can buy a separate TV base that you can turn(like this one).

You can also choose to use a TV bracket to hang the television on the wall. The advantage of this is that you can place the TV at any desired height. The height of the screen does not depend on your TV furniture and the TV base. TV brackets are also available with various adjustment options. For example, there are TV brackets that you can turn or tilt. Several TV brackets can even be adjusted remotely with remote control. For more information about this, read the article ‘electric TV bracket’.

Do you want to use a TV bracket or another TV base? Then pay attention to the VESA size of your TV. This is a standard distance and matching size of nuts for mounting your TV. Almost every TV has four holes at the rear according to the VESA standard so that you can mount it on a TV bracket.

You can also simply pay attention to the appearance and the use of the materials. For example, more expensive TVs will use metal housing and stand, while cheaper TVs often use plastic. Are you looking for a TV where a lot of attention has been paid to the external design? Take a look at the article ‘Design TV’ for five televisions with a luxurious design.

TV brands

Do you prefer a TV of a certain brand? The most popular TV manufacturers are Samsung, Philips, LG, and Sony.

More information and a comparison of the TV product lines of a particular brand? Check out the following articles:

Overviews of more brands will follow later.

Price/budget

Do you have a certain budget in mind for the purchase of your TV? The price of a TV can vary considerably. A TV with good properties will often also be more expensive. For example, TVs with a large size and a high-quality screen, such as QLED and OLED televisions, are considerably more expensive.

According to Bol.com, the average price of a TV in the current offer is 44,000. Do you want to know what you can expect for properties in different price ranges at the moment?

With a high budget, you can often choose from either a larger or better image quality.

Related articles:

Tip: TV with good value for money? Check out the current best buy’ page on the best TV’page.

 

Reviews, tests, and experiences

TVs can have excellent properties on paper, but how do they perform in practice? To find out, it is best to go through the reviews and tests of TVs. This way, all image quality performance can be tested. For example, you can compare different tested TVs for colour accuracy, maximum brightness and contrast ratio.

Customer reviews can also reveal certain flaws or positives that you wouldn’t dwell on in the first place. It is, therefore, a good idea to take time to review customer reviews before purchasing your new TV.

 

Conclusion: which TV to buy?

Now that you know what to look out for when buying a TV, it’s easier to choose a TV that fits your requirements.

Check out our advice in the article “Best TV”. In it, we mention the four best choices of the moment. We looked at the aforementioned important properties, the price, and looked at reviews and tests of these TVs and the image quality.

With all these webshops, you can filter for properties in the range of televisions so that you can search in a targeted way yourself.

Questions or comments?

Do you have any questions or comments about buying a television or any of the properties mentioned? Please leave a comment below!

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