Choosing a television can feel a bit like picking a number out of a hat. Walk into any electronics store and you’ll see dozens of TVs that all look pretty much the same. But they’re not the same and price often reflects that. So what makes some 40-inch TVs $250 and others $1000? I’ll explain the reasons why and what you should look for in this TV buying guide.
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The majority of TVs on shelves are LED (a category of LCD TV). Plasmas and fluorescent-lit LCDs are now fairly uncommon. LEDs can be backlit or lit from the sides.
Choose side lighting to get a slightly thinner TV. OLED TVs are the latest variation of the LED; though not yet widely manufactured you should soon start to see more of these on shelves.
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Price and size are typically correlated but bigger isn’t always better. Get a TV that’s size appropriate for your space to ensure a comfortable viewing experience. TVs typically look a lot smaller in stores than they will in your home. Size is a measurement of the screen — it doesn’t include the frame around the TV.
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Resolution is a measurement of pixels. 1080p is typically considered the standard for full HD and is best for big screen TVs. If you’re shopping for a smaller TV, you can still get a clear picture with 720p.
Extreme tech connoisseurs may be after the 4k Ultra HD (also known as UHD). These TVs have around four times the resolution as 1080p. You’ll pay a premium, but the price has already come down substantially since it was first introduced to the market.
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Number of Hz
“Hz” stands for hertz and measures the frames per second. A higher Hz reduces the amount of blur you see, but not everyone needs to go for the higher Hz.
60 Hz is fairly standard and will be suitable for most programs. If you watch a lot of sports and high action programs, it could be worth it to upgrade to 120Hz.
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This gives your TV the ability to connect to the Internet without needing a third party device like a Roku or a Wi-Fi-enabled gaming console. It gives you the ability to stream services like Netflix, Hulu, or Pandora, surf social media sites, or use a full web browser.
Having a smart TV often eliminates the need for a lot of inputs. If you do need to hook up several devices to your TV, make sure it has an adequate number, especially HDMI inputs.
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Don’t splurge on a 3D TV unless you plan to use it. You’ll be able to watch all your regular programming, but think about how often you’ll actually use the 3D feature.
3D glasses are typically included with the TV, but you’ll also need to purchase a 3D Blu-ray player and discs to fully maximize the feature.
Installation & delivery
If your TV is too big to fit in your car, you can typically order online and qualify for free shipping. Don’t let installation charges sneak up on you, though. Mounting a TV can cost hundreds of dollars.
When comparing costs between retailers, factor in deals on installation. Keep in mind you may need to hire an electrician if you want to conceal cables and cords.