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TV Buying Guide 2019 – What should be considered before you buy a TV?

by on January 11, 2019


Every year, there are new technologies and features offered by the manufacturers for their TV lineup. From LCD, LED, OLED, Smart TV, 3D TV, Full HD TV, 4K TV, 4K HDR TV and the latest is 8K TV. This certainly makes the world of TVs is looking better every year.  But on the other hand, this also makes the consumers are confused. As example, in last year, almost all 4K TVs which released already support HDR technology, but only few of them that can give the benefits offered by HDR technology itself. Most of them may be able to play HDR content, but of course, without the quality like the intended by movie’s creator.  This certainly makes many consumers is confused, particularly for them who want to buy HDT TV that can provides benefits offered by HDR over SDR images. Below are some aspects that should be considered before you buy a TV so you will not be disappointed later.

Screen size

No matter you want to buy entry level or premium TV, the first factor that should be considered is the screen size. The bigger screen size, this will give more interesting experience.  But even so, you should also consider the space of your room where you will place your TV.  This has to do with the distance between your seat and the TV. Watch TV on the big screen certainly will not be comfortable when it is too close. Otherwise, we also feel less comfortable when what TV in small screen sizes with too much distance. Therefore, before you decide the screen size, you should know who the distance between your seat and you plan to mount or place the TV.

You need to know, TVs are measured diagonally, not vertically or horizontally. This means, if the TV has 55 inches screen sizes, this is measured from one corner to the opposite corner. The simple formula that can be used, the most comfortable distance is a range of 1.5 – 3 times of the screen sizes.  With other words, to determine the ideal screen size, you can divide the distance by between 1.5 – 3..  As example, if the distance between your seat and you plan to mount the TV is 100 inch (8.3 feet), the ideal screen size is a range of 40 inch – 66 inch. You can choose between 40 inch, 43 inch, 49 inch, 50 inch, 55 inch, or 65 inch according to your budget.

Screen Sizes (Inches) Min Viewing Distance (Feet) Max Viewing Distance (Feet)
32 4.0 8.0
40 5.0 10.0
43 5.375 10.75
49 6.125 12.25
50 6.25 12.5
55 6.875 13.75
60 7.5 15
65 8.125 16.25
75 9.375 18.75
82 10.25 20.5


Screen Resolution

There are some resolutions provided, from Full HD (1280 x 720p), Full HD (1080 x 1920p), 4K (3840 x 2160p, up to 8K (7680 x 4320). HD and Full HD TV is old technology, 4K is the most popular resolution in this time, and 8K is for future. Although the most popular resolution of the TV for this now is 4K, but there are 720p and 1080p TV that still available. On the other hand, some manufactures like Samsung or other have started to introduce their 8K TV. The time of HD or Full HD TV has passed, so you should not buy a TV with these resolutions. Meanwhile, although 8K is the next resolution and some manufacturer has released their 8K lineup, you should not also buy the TV with this resolution. In addition to that is too early so there are still a lot of factors that needs to be improved, 8K contents which available is also still rare. So, the ideal resolution for this time is 4K where most manufacturers still focus to improve the performance of their 4K lineup including HDR ability.

HDR Supports

HDR Support

As we have discussed above, most 4K TV which released in 2018 may be already support HDR, but each of them may support different HDR format. You need to know, there are some popular HDR formats which available in the market including HDR10 by UHD alliance, Dolby Vision by Dolby Laboratories, HLG (for broadcasting only) by NHK and BBC, Advanced HDR by TechniColor, and the latest is HDR10+ by Samsung and their alliance. Each of have advantages and disadvantages to the others.  Most of TVs already support HDR10 and HLG, but not all TVs support Dolby Vision, Advanced HDR, and HDR10+. The  TV that support Dolby Vision are LG TV (especially middle to higher model), high-end of Sony TV and some manufacturers like TCL, Vizio, and others. There is no Samsung’s TVs that support Dolby Vision. On the other hand, there is only LG’s TV that supports Advanced HDR. While the TV that support HDR10+ is only Samsung’s TV and for a while, except Samsung, there is no other manufacturer that support HDR10+.

TV Specs

There is no perfect TV. In certain aspect, a TV may be superior. But on the other aspect, it is not necessarily superior. So, for this case, choosing a TV should be accorded to your habit in watching TV. As an example, if you often watch movies in a dark room, you should choose a TV with strong native contrast ratio or if you often watch sports, you should choose a TV with fast pixel response time. Below are some aspects of TVs you should consider before you buy a TV.

Black Level and Contrast

High vs Low Contrast

The higher native contrast ratio of a TV, the deeper black level that is produced and the better picture quality that is shown, particularly when they are set in a dark room.  If you often watch movies in a dark room, native contrast ratio is the major aspects you should consider. For this case, the winner is OLED TV where it has infinite native contrast ratio that make them can produce perfect black level.  There are some models of OLED TVs which available in the market like OLED C8, OLED B8, and OLED E8 by LG, A1E, A8F, and A9F by Sony , and others. But even so, for this time, OLED TV is still sold expensive. Although not as perfect as OLED TV, LED TV with VA panel usually also has strong native contrast ratio and deep black level. But on the other hand, they usually have poor side viewing angle coverage.  To improve black level produced, a high-end LED TV usually also has local dimming technology. And a TV with local dimming technology usually can produce better dark scene than a TV without local dimming. LED TVs with IPS panel usually have low native contrast ratio and they are not recommended for you who often watch movies in a dark room. LG LED TV and some models of Sony TVs usually use IPS Panel.

Peak Brightness

Peak brightness is also the other aspect you should consider. This particularly is very important when you are watching TV in a bright room. The brighter peak brightness produced by a TV, the picture produced will look more consistent in a brighter room. Typically, peak brightness needed to fight the glare in a bright room is 300 nits or brighter. The brighter TV, the picture displayed will look more consistent. Additionally, peak brightness is also very important when a TV comes in HDR. The brighter peak brightness of a TV, HDR images produced will looks better, particularly when they are displaying bright scene. You need to know, to show highlight of HDR images like the intended, a TV should produce at least 1000 nits of peak brightness. But unfortunately, for this time, there are not many TVs that can get brighter than 1000 nits, even there is no OLED TVs that can get brighter than 1000 nits. If you want a TV with peak brightness brighter than 1000 nits, there are Samsung or Sony high-end model that can meet your expectation.

Color Gamut

Wide color gamut

You need to know, the wider color gamut of a TV, the more colors that can be shown. And you need to know, to provide more colorful and vibrant color, HDR content need wider color gamut than SDR content. SDR content needs Rec.709 of color space where most of modern TVs has o problem to cover that. Meanwhile, a TV should have at least 90% of DCI P3 color space to show HDR content with the color like the intended.  The wider color gamut produced by a TV, the color of HDR images produced will look more accurate. And for this case, only middle to higher model that support wide color gamut or can cover more than 90% of DCI P3. If you comes to HDR, choose a TV that support wide color gamut.

Pixel Response Time

pixel response time

This has to do with the ability of a TV in handling motion. So, if you often watch a video with a lot of fast paced scene like sports, fast movies, or fast games, you need a TV with low pixel response time. You need to know, the lower pixel response time of a TV, the smoother motion that produced.  And for this case, the winner is OLED TVs where they have far lower pixel response time than LED TVs. But even so, although the pixel response time of LED TVs is not as lower as OLED TVs, but their pixel response time. is still acceptable for motion. And fortunately, most of TV moderns have good pixel response time, so you will not have a trouble to find it.

Input Lags

You need to know, input lag is a delay between input and screen reaction. And this is an important aspect you should consider if you want to buy a TV for games or PC monitor. For maximizing their input lag, a TV usually has PC or Game mode where some features will be deactivated. And the lower input lag of a TV, the TV will be more responsive when used for games particularly for fast paced games. And for this case, you will not also have a trouble to find it since most modern TVs have good input lag in game or PC mode.

Side Viewing Angle

Side Viewing Angle

Special for you who often watch TV with a group of your family where they sit in wide seating, you should consider a TV that has wide viewing angle coverage.  This is very important in order to all of you can get the best viewing.  And for this case, OLED TV is also the winner since it has far wider viewing angle coverage than LED TV. But even so, if you are forced to choose the LED TV, you should choose a LED TV with IPS panel. It can provide wider side viewing angle than a LED TV with VA panel.  You will found a TV with IPS panel on LG’s LED TV or some models of Sony’s TVs.  But keep in mind, a TV with IPS panel typically has lower contrast ratio, so they are not suitable when used in a dark room.

In addition to what mentioned above, there are actually still a lot of factor you should consider before you buy a TV like black uniformity, black uniformity, optional BFI mode, HDMI supports, Smart TV, and more. But the impact which caused by their different performance in these factors are not as significant as what mentioned above. Nevertheless, this should not also be ignored. Below are some tips for you before buy a TV.

  • If you want a future-proof TV, don’t buy a TV with resolution less than 4K (3840 x 2160). The 8K resolution may be the next jump in resolution, but for this time, this is too early. In addition the price of 8K TV is still expensive, you cannot even get 8K contents yet.
  • If you come to HDR, don’t buy a TV with peak brightness less than 500 nits and color gamut less than 90% of DCI P3 color space.
  • If your main purpose in buying TV is for watching movies, don’t buy a TV with native contrast ratio (not contrast ratio listed on its specs) less than 3000:1. For this case, OLED TV may be much better than a typical LED TV, but its price usually is more expensive.
  • If you buy LED TV, consider their panel technology, VA or IPS panel. As we have known, LED TV with VA panel usually have strong native contrast ratio but its side viewing angle is poor. On other hand, TV with IPS panel usually has good viewing angle coverage but its native contrast ratio is poor. The decision is based on the light condition of room where it is often used.
  • If you are a gamer, don’t but a TV with input lags higher than 30 ms
  • Smart TV may be another interesting thing that offered, but don’t ever make it as major consideration. There are a lot of set top boxes that sold cheaply that offers a lot of attractive features.
  • Don’t focus on built-in sound bar. Except about the aesthetic, there are a lot of external sound bar that sold cheaply but has much more impressive sound quality than internal sound-bar of TV.
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