How to buy a TV (Comprehensive Guide)

May 27, 2015 | 0

There are several things that one needs to consider before buying a TV, especially the screen size and type, the features, the display resolution, and connectivity options. The below listed TV buying guide enumerates and elucidates on all these points.

1. The Screen Size

  • When it comes to the screen size of TVs, a bigger screen size is always better. Smaller screen sizes are usually cheaper than bigger ones.
  • It may also be noted that every TV has an ideal viewing distance. Being seated too far may result in fusion of the different details thereby lowering the overall picture quality, while a closer than ideal seating can cause the images to become pixelated thereby lowering the overall viewing pleasure. The ideal viewing distance is governed by 2 factors, i.e., the screen resolution (discussed below) and the screen size. For example, the best viewing distance for Full HD content is about 1.6 times the TV’s diagonal measurement. Use this method to determine the screen size needed to get Full HDTV optimal viewing pleasure from your preferred seating area.
  • Consumers also need to take into account the size of the available space in the TV cabinet before determining the perfect TV size. The TV size includes the screen size as well as the size of the stands and bezels. It may be noted that TVs are usually a long-term investment. Hence, instead of opting for a smaller than preferred screen size, it is best to change the cabinet and go for the maximum screen size that you crave for and which fits your budget.

how to buy a TV

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2. The Screen Type

Originally, consumers only had the choice between LCD and Plasma screen TVs. Consumers now also have the option of LED and OLED screen TVs.

LCD Screen TVs

  • CCFL technology is used to light up an LCD TV display. As compared to LED TVs, they offer a lower grade of picture quality, do not last as long, and are bulkier, but cheaper. LCD TVs are thus a good budget buy option. It may however be noted that LED TV prices are slowly decreasing and most manufacturers are gradually phasing out production of LCD TVs.

LED Screen TVs

  • The LCD panel used in LED TVs is the same as LCD TVs. However in LED screens, a series of LEDs or light emitting diodes are used to light up the display. As compared to LCD TVs, LED TVs use less electricity, are slimmer, and offer better quality of picture. It is preferred choice of many.
  • LED TVs can be edge-lit or backlit as per method used to light the display. As compared to backlit LED TVs which have best picture quality and feature lighting from the back, edge-lit LED TVs feature lighting that come from right and left edges and good picture quality. It is also relatively cheaper and slimmer than the backlit LED TVs.

Plasma Screen TVs

  • The pros of plasma TVs include great picture quality due to their deep black hues, lack of motion blur, wider viewing angles, awesome contrast, and a lower price as compared to LCD and LED TVs.
  • The cons include availability in only large sizes of over 42 inches, increased weight and thus bulkier, average picture quality in well-lit conditions, higher electricity consumption, and unsuitable in places at high altitudes. Declining sales of Plasma TVs has caused most manufacturers to stop its production; only Samsung and LG still manufacture them.


  • OLED TVs offer a display panel that is lighter and thinner with deeper black hues and 4K resolutions. They are however exorbitantly priced.

3. The Features

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  • 3D TVs: 3D TVs come with the capability to display 3D video content, which can be viewed via specialized 3D glasses. 3D TVs feature 2 types of screens, i.e., passive and active. Some 3D TVs come with the option of converting regular 2D video content into 3D. The resultant viewing pleasure is however not as rich as watching original 3D content.
    • Active 3D screens: In this the images alternate between each of the eyes. Active 3D glasses operate via battery power, and are somewhat heavy and expensive.
    • Passive 3D screens: In this, 2 different images are shown at the same time, meaning that each eye can see just one of the images. Thus, the perceived resolution is typically half the resolution of the TV. Passive 3D glasses are similar to the ones used in theaters. They do not need a battery to operate. Passive 3D TVs are preferred by many as they feature decreased flicker leading to overall better 3D viewing experience. Passive 3D glasses are also more comfortable and cheaper.
    • Smart TVs: Smart TVs can connect to the internet and access varied online services, including Facebook, messaging clients, live streaming, Skype calls, etc. They can connect to different devices like smartphones, laptops, etc., and display their content. Most Smart TVs have a camera. A normal HDMI equipped TV can also be converted into a Smart TV via use of smart boxes.

4. The Display Resolution

  • A TV’s display resolution refers to the number of unique pixels seen in each dimension. It is generally shown as “width X height” where the units are pixels. Also, the pixels in a video determine the resolution of the video content. For example, cable TV analog video content has a resolution of 480 pixels, while Blu-Ray has Full HD 1080 pixel resolution.
  • As per the content resolution supported by them, TVs are categorized into different display resolution standards like WXGA, HD Ready, HD, Ultra HD, SD, Full HD, and 4K. Most flat panel TVs currently available in the markets are Full HD or HD Ready. Ultra HD screens offers a resolution of 3840 X 2160 pixels which is 4 times that of an HD resolution.
  • Watching a lower resolution video content on a higher resolution TV does not improve the video content quality. Similarly, watching a higher resolution video content on a lower resolution TV does not improve picture quality.
  • If the viewing distance is about 7 to 8 feet, then a 40 inch TV with 720 p display resolution is sufficient. Full HD is ideal in case of 40 to 60 inch TVs, while over 60 inch TVs need 4K resolution. A decrease in the viewing distance requires a higher display resolution for better viewing experience.

5. The Connectivity Options

The different connectivity options available for TVs include HDMI, USB, TOSLINK or Optical cable, VGA, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and NFC.

  • Optical cable: Check for this option if you have gadgets that require digital optical socket connectivity.
  • VGA: Despite its high frame rates and high resolution capabilities, VGA cables support only analog signals. New TVs rarely have this old type of port connectivity.
  • NFC: This wireless connectivity option uses a radio channel to begin communication with nearby devices. It is present in high-end TVs. NFC allows other NFC equipped devices like tablets, laptops, etc., to connect to the TV.
  • HDMI: It is the most popular connectivity standard and is present in varied modern gadgets like laptops, gaming consoles, Blu-Ray players, etc. As compared to usual AV media cables, HDMI allows higher bitrate, offers lossless data transmission, and renders better quality videos. Customers with more than one HDMI equipped devices should opt for a TV with 2 or more HDMI ports.
  • Ethernet: It facilitates connection to broadband network. Consumers who plan to use their broadband on their TV should ensure that Ethernet port is present in the TV that they wish to buy.
  • USB: This connectivity option is also available in many modern gadgets. However, many TVs do not support all media formats transferred via USB. Hence, check this TV feature before buying. You may also use a player to convert media into formats that can be played on the TV.
  • Wi-Fi: It allows wireless access to internet and home network. A must have for tech-freaks.

Tips for converting your TV into a Smart TV

If you feel that Smart TVs are expensive, you can convert a TV with HDMI ports into a web-enabled TV.  You can buy an ultra-portable media player, which look like USB pen drives, these can easily steam web content like videos, pictures, audio content wirelessly from your computer, smartphone or tablet to your TV. Having a WI-FI router at home can make things pretty easy.  One of the best brands in portable media players is Google’s Chromecast.  All you have to do is plug the Chromecast in your TV’S HDMI port and you are good to go.

The flip side to Google Chromecast that while you can watch WI-FI enabled program on your computer, you cannot store data  because there is no internal or expandable memory in it. For this, you can opt for set-top box media players, these have USB ports where you can put your flash drives, external hard-drives and a memory card slot for your SD cards so that you can store the content and watch them.  Some of these boxes also have internal storage for movies and other content.  So whenever you buy a TV and it is not a SMART TV,  make sure it has enough HDMI ports.

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