9 tips for buying a good TV

9 tips for buying a good TV

9 tips for buying a good TV

The current offer of televisions is impressive and it is easier than ever to nibble on the tricks of marketing. As a true center of the digital home, users who decide to renovate it face an important dilemma that we try to clarify in the following lines. These are the nine tips that I give to those who ask me which television to buy.

Don't buy anything other than 4K UHD

At this point, there is no debate. It is very difficult to find panels above 40 inches that maintain the FullHD resolution and the prices have moderated so much that 4K televisions can be purchased from 400 $.

Yes, it is true that you start talking about 8K when DTT is still far from FullHD and there are not many services capable of taking advantage of 4K, but it is also true that over the next few years the situation will change quickly and it is convenient to be prepared.

For a couple of generations, televisions have included excellent quality image processors that are capable of scaling content from 1080p without excessive loss of quality, so the transition is getting smoother. Unless you have a very good reason to do so, I don't recommend anything below 4K.

Beware of HDR, not all are the same

tips for buying a good TV, HDR

Technology HDR (High Dynamic Range) is fantastic and often more relevant than jumping resolution means reaching 4K. To oversimplify, there are three standards that dominate the market: HDR10, HDR10 +, and Dolby Vision.

Obviously, HDR makes little sense if we are only going to watch DTT but it makes a difference in how much we enjoy high definition content and, increasingly, video games. The HDR10, being free, has had the support of the majority of the industry but with none of the three, you will be wrong. If they support those standards it is because they have a quality panel and an excellent level of brightness.

Size matters (and a lot)

The tips here come down to buying the largest television you can afford, within reason. And how much is reasonable? On the Internet you will see a multitude of studies and, in reality, each manufacturer establishes its criteria.

In my opinion, it is not only important to take into account the distance at which we are located without the viewing angle, the quality of the panel, and the type of content that we are going to see. Watching DTT at two and a half meters is torture, but everything changes when we are enjoying a 4K movie, to cite an example.

A practical rule of thumb is to multiply the diagonal of the TV you plan to buy by 1.6. This provides a viewing angle of about 30º, ideal for mixed-use (although for cinema, companies like THX recommend 40º or multiply by 1.2). With these numbers, with a 65 ”television we should sit at 2.7 meters and with one at 50 to 2 meters.

As we mentioned, it also depends on the dimensions of our living room, the reflections, and our own personal taste. If we are fans of movies or video games, perhaps we do not mind sitting closer to enjoy the detail, while if the user is more familiar, multiplying diagonal by 1.6 or even 1.8 can be a good reference.

OLED or LED, the eternal dilemma

OLED or LED, the eternal dilemma

At this point, my recommendation remains the same: if the main use of TV is to be DTT, there is little point in investing in a very expensive OLED panel. At this point in 2020, you can find the latest generation LEDs at knockdown prices and with excellent quality. In my opinion, it is much more worth investing in the best LED or QLED you can afford before a low-end OLED.

If the budget is not a problem and enjoying movies, series, or video games in top quality is one of your priorities, do not hesitate: OLED is the present and the best option right now. MicroLED is not yet a reality in stores and QLED is nothing more than an evolution of the LED system that we had until now.

DTT will change (yes, again)

The arrival of 5G will cause collateral damage in thousands of homes, which will have to change the television or buy a receiver prepared for the DVB-T2 technology. The reason is simple: The 700 MHz band will be used for 5G, which will ensure better coverage in remote areas and DTT will move to the 470-694 MHz bands.

All televisions manufactured from March will have to have a DVB-T2 tuner, but not all those sold now have it. Normally almost all the mid and high range carry it but beware of unconventional Asian brands because we can get some surprises.

If you can, better with HDMI 2.1

The quintessential standard for transmitting digital audio and video will receive a major update this year that will multiply its transfer capacity (up to 48 Gbps), expand support to new resolutions and refresh rates, and allow the use of metadata.

It may not seem relevant at the moment, but the next generation of consoles and new generation media players are likely to be able to take advantage of them.

In MC we have published a lot of information about HDMI 2.1 so my advice comes down to making sure that our new TV incorporates it. Almost all the new models of 2019 should carry it and practically all of the 2020 ones, so it is a point to value.

Don't trust what you see in the store

Don't trust what you see in the TV store

Choosing a "hot" television is a lousy idea. In shopping malls, you will find the one on top of the other (often not at eye level) and configured in a "demo mode" characterized by exaggerating brightness and contrast to cajole the buyer.

It is likely that if you take a walk through a store you will not detect great differences between the models, which are normally reproducing content provided by the brand. My advice is that you take a USB with a piece of video that you know perfectly and that has action, grays, and fast transitions and dedicate all the time you want to "tinker" between the configuration menus.

Regarding the commercials, there is everything from professionals who guide the staff who are going to commission with great judgment and will try to sneak everything into one model over another. As always, it is best to inform yourself as much as possible before deciding.

The latest model is not always the best option

The technological cycles in televisions are not as fast as in other sectors, such as smartphones or computing. Normally it can take 3-4 years for a relevant jump to occur.

Therefore, it is not crazy to buy in 2020 a high-end model that went on sale in 2018. In fact, at the panel and technology level, it is likely to outperform any mid-range that has just hit the market for a similar price.

Still, it is wise to be cautious. Behind many "irresistible" offers are outdated or excess stock models that may not be highly recommended. Nor do I advise you to buy exposure televisions, it is difficult to know the number of hours they have been running and we may have problems in the medium term.

When is the best time to buy?

9 tips for buying a good TV

Most manufacturers usually release news during the winter and spring. Traditionally, the CES in Las Vegas is where the new models are presented, which progressively replace the old ones during the first months of the year.

A good trick is to wait about six months from the launch of the model that we like. Once the first stock is sold, brands often lower prices to meet objectives and make room for what is to come. On the other hand, offers such as the Day without VAT or the promotions of Amazon or PC Components are the perfect time to buy that television that we have already decided. Be very careful with the impulses on those dates, it is not convenient to decide with the price as the only criterion.

Finally, the behavior of prices is not the same in all models. In the low range the discounts are small (they are already cheap in themselves) and usually occur on certain days. For the mid-range, it is worth waiting for Black Friday, with the new generation announced and the high-end usually tend to drop less but progressively, to get under control just before the Christmas campaign.

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