TVs comparison

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Comparing Smart TVs

Smart TVs

Some people already know which brand they tend towards to and which features they require. If you have absolutely no idea what to pay attention to when comparing TVs in order to pick up yours.

Do size and graphics really matter? Are you aware which smart TVs have recording features embedded? Go to find answers to that in this article that will outline the main things to look for.

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General

Series

Series is the type of model range that the TV belongs. Nowadays there are a few main brands around – Samsung, Sony, Hisense, Hitachi, LG, Philips, Samsung, Sceptre and TCL. Each of this brand offers different TV series models, some of the examples include UJ630 for LG, MU6300 for Samsung and R6D for Hisense.

Screen sizes in series

Series is defined by which design and feature mix the TVs in it has, but it doesn’t mean that all the TVs will have the same screen size. The most popular screen sizes nowadays are 40, 43, 45, 48, 50. Choose size wisely – depends which distance the TV is away from you, you may wish a bigger screen or, otherwise, you can find out you’ve paid too much, and you are comfortable with smaller screens.

Display

4K/HDR

Real 4K TVs are expensive but offer the best quality possible – typical HDR television displays about 8 million pixels. However, in order to really feel the quality, you need to have a bigger screen – on a smaller TV, it will make absolutely no difference to the image on the screen. So, if you decide to spend on 4K, make sure you are getting a UHD Premium. Such TV must have a display resolution of at least 3840 x 2160 and have 10-bit color depth or higher, so double check characteristics before buying one.

Full HD

Full HD TVs are the most popular type nowadays. The TV has a Full HD if this surpasses the quality over the original 720p high-definition television (HDTV) technology specification and provides an image resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels.

Resolution

Resolution is the number of pixels in each dimension that the TV can display natively. Many manufacturers stress out on the opportunity to get a better picture. Be aware of the following resolution standards and decide on your own use if you really need this resolution or lower one is okay for you as well: standard TV channels have no more than 480i, HD channels are on 720p or 1080i, Netflix is only up to 4K and Blu-Rays are 1080p or 4K as well.

Display type

Compare TVs side by side, there are different display types available. LCD Display is the one you have in the laptops or PCs. If you choose LCD Display, you need to pay attention that LCD crystals don’t produce their own light, so an external light source like a fluorescent bulb.

The second type on offer is LED. LED produce light themselves so you don’t need to worry about external lighting. As well, such TVs are tending to be narrower as LEDs themselves are far more efficient and smaller in size. My own recommendation is that if you like art house videos and older movies, choose the TV with Direct LED – this will be good in displaying black and white contrasts.

PLASMA is the third type of available displays. This is way better in terms of color accuracy and contrasts, such TVs are available only on bigger screens, typically 40-inch .

The last one I want to talk about is OLED. OLED is a new type of displays and this doesn’t require even backlighting. This allows the TVs to be super thin and flexible and process images fast. So if you look for the hi-tech room solution, that’s certainly the one to have a look at.

Screen design

Even by compare Samsung TVs, we can notice that there are different screen designs available. Some of them are curved, some have extra buttons in and some are simply classical. Which screen design to choose depends only on you and your house decorations.

Display width, cm/in

The first character when you read display dimensions is the display width. To choose the right width, make sure you can keep the whole screen on focus and don’t roll eyes too much – otherwise, you will feel uncomfortable when watching a film for a few hours.

Display height, cm/in

The second character when you read display dimensions is the display height. To choose the right height, make sure you can keep the whole screen on focus and don’t roll eyes too much – otherwise, you will feel uncomfortable when watching a film for a few hours.

Display area, %

It seems like a rule that more display area, the better TV is. In reality, this is not true and in fact, the quality stays completely the same despite the price. So, if the size of boards doesn’t mean a lot to you, I will advise choosing the one with display area about 90%.

Display colors

The most popular color schemes are True Color and Deep Color. True color uses 24-bit scheme and 8 bits of R, G, and B specter. This leads to about 16,777,216 color variations. Deep Color is the advance version of True color and can offer 1.073 billion variations. Still, the human eye can’t see all of them so worth thinking twice here.

Refresh rate, Hz

The refresh rate is the amount of time the lights behind the TV are flashing there and back in order to produce an image. At a minimum in order to be comfortable with your TV, you need 120Hz. At 60 Hz you will see the light flashing from behind therefore it will be uncomfortable to watch the TV. Comparing LG TVs, for example, UF7600 have the refresh rate of 60Hz (even 120Hz is officially declared) and All other 4K TVs have 120 Hz (even 240 Hz is declared).

Aspect ratio

The aspect ratio defines the proportions of the height and width of an image. It is displayed as W: H and most common types of it are 4:3, 16:9 and 21:9. Compare 4K TVs, I would advise choosing 16:9 one if you love watching films as even 21:9 was originally designed for that purpose, actual difference was minimum and therefore they are rare as they’ve never been popular and manufacture price for those are high.

High dynamic range (HDR)

The HDR works by improving contrast and brightness, that allows creating more live and dynamic images that you can get out of current 1080p displays. To enjoy HDR, you need to make sure your movie supports it, otherwise, it’s pointless. Best quality can be achieved with Ultra HD Blu-Ray discs, that have consistent 100Mbps data rate, providing the best experience possible.

3D

3D

3D becomes more popular the time goes, so you may have a look for a 3D feature available on your TV. Compare Samsung TVs, most of the ones 2016 forward have this feature, however, you need to double check earlier ones when getting one. Usually, 3D is achieved by displaying two images at ones (one for each eye) and require wearing glasses, however, if you wear glasses already that may be uncomfortable. I would advise having a look at autostereoscopic imaging (auto 3-D) – this technology is screen-based and does not require viewers to wear special glasses.

2D to 3D

What will happens if your favorite film is in 2D, but you want to feel it from inside? Compare LG TVs, all LG 3D HDTVs have the innovative technology to turn standard 2D content into a 3D viewing experience. Just press the button on your control and enjoy new horizons!

Viewing angles

Horizontal, degrees

Keeping with our example, this parameter relates to the guests that stay on the edge of the sofa. Horizontal degree angle is measured off axis and is the point where the contrast starts to degrade, or black levels do not maintain their depth so the picture you see on the screen becomes worth in quality. If you have a Plasma TV you will be fine about this as each pixel is separate from one another, however, you need to acknowledge this fact if you decide to buy an LCD TV in the end.

Vertical, degrees

Now imagine you watch the film and some of you sit on the floor – some of the pictures can be not seen as well, right? The situation is similar to horizontal degree angle, so analyze carefully your needs and choose the one that suits you – if you have too many friends, for example, it may be worth taking Plasma instead of LCD due to the above factors.

Audio

Speakers

Compare Sony TVs to most TVs nowadays, they have stereo speakers like 99% of models nowadays. Some TVs still use two mono speakers instead of stereo speakers, so read carefully about which type of speakers is embedded in your chosen TV.

Speakers power

If you compare TVs to each other, you can easily discover that among many brands there is a similarity in speakers’ power. Most smart TVs have a speaker power of 20-30.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby video decoder is a good thing to have in your TV if you love a sound volume like in the cinema. Dolby Atmos captures the movement of every object and performs 360º surround sound. Another good thing about it – most films on Netflix support it so if you watch Netflix often it is a must-have on your TV.

Dolby Surround

Dolby Surround offers less cinema experience in comparison with Dolby Atmos. It can be commonly found in almost every TV manufactured after 2015. You are still getting a surround sound experience of a good quality, therefore if you don’t want to spend extra on Dolby Atmos but love films, have a look for Dolby surround instead.

Connections

HDMI

Nowadays HDMI is the most important cable as this is the one we use to connect the laptop to play some videos on the TV, for example. It helps to transmit uncompressed video data and compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from the display controller to the device needed. HDMI is a digital replacement for analog video standards.

USB

If you are the one who likes to download things to the USB stick and watch them later, make sure the TV you are looking at has a USB port – then you can plug an external device like a phone or a USB memory stick and enjoy films straight from there. Almost every TV after 2015 will have a USB port, however just doublecheck it in order not to be upset later.

Component video input

Component video inputs are used to pass the color of the image, not the sound. This was commonly used in the past, therefore if you are a fan of old films this is a necessity as both sound and image were recorded separately using an RGB format back in 90-00s. There are different features in many TVs to improve the quality of the video anyway, so most of the TVs after 2017 don’t have this input anymore.

Composite video input

Composite video input is used for one-wire only color transmission that is much more common so almost every TV has them. Typical composites video standards are PAL, SECAM или NTSC. The quality of composite video transmission can be worse than of the component one due to different colors having different bright and signal lengths.

VGA input

VGA is a three-row 15-pin DE-15 connector and is mostly used to connect desktops to the TVs so most of the TVs (especially LED ones) have them. If you own a small device, you can find out that instead of a typical VGA port you will have a mini-VGA one.

Optical digital audio output

SPDIF transfers only audio signals. Overall, compare smart TVs to HDMI which is more complete as it can carry both audio and video signals, there is still a place for SPDIF as some TVs back in 2007 have a SPDIF output but not an HDMI one.

Analog audio output

If you love listening to music or films from the headphones, this is the essential output for this. Be sure your phone is compatible – older phones use 2.5 mm ones. The models after 2014 use 3.5 mm ones and can be connected. They look very similar and different only in size.

Ethernet (RJ45)

Do you want to watch films and videos straight on Youtube? If yes, you will need either a WiFi or Ethernet features on your new TV. A registered jack (RJ) is a standardized physical network interface for connecting telecommunications or data equipment. Remember the twisted pair wire you connect your computer to the router? You’ll need the same one to be connected to your TV if you want to use Internet features available.

Wi-Fi

However, who wants to think about wired connection nowadays? The TVs with Wi-Fi embedded are much more popular due to no need to think about wire length – only you need to care about is the distance the router is to your TV. Also, my advice is to choose the TV with both Ethernet and WiFi connection – typically wired connection is more reliable and faster for data transmission.

Wi-Fi 5GHz

Have you upgraded your router recently? Then you may find this feature interesting. 5 GHz Wi-Fi will support up to 1300 Mbps and you can choose a TV that has a WiFi 5 GHz support for the best possible online watching experience – no signal delays or external noise.

Bluetooth

Not so bothered about cables and want to watch the video straight off your phone? Bluetooth is here to help you with that. Bluetooth works only on a short distance but ensures fast and protected data transmission over the distance. This can be used to play the music of your old mp3 player, for example, as the technology is around for a long time.

TV tuner

Analog

Analog TV operates on a different frequency, therefore, making it impossible to tune the digital signal – there is just nothing at this frequency at your old TV, so you will need a newer model to set this up or a special converter box to help you with this. This was mostly used in old TVs, but after 2005 only a few models have analog-only tuners in.

Digital

Digital TV operates on a different frequency, therefore, making it impossible to tune the analog signal. And even if the channel number remains the same, the underlying frequency that your tuner receives might differ. Luckily, most of the world uses only digital TV nowadays so if you have a digital tuner your set up will most likely be easier than for the owners of old TV boxes.

Ergonomics

VESA mount

Do you want to put your TV on the wall instead of the TV stand? This aspect is very important if you buy a TV for the bedroom, for example, or if you like to watch it while cooking dinner. See below which VESA interfaces there are and how to choose the one you need.

VESA interface

The VESA Interface Standard is the distance in millimeters between the four mounting holes on the back of a TV (distance horizontally x distance vertically). The same standards usually used by all TV companies like LG, Samsung, and Sony. Most common VESA sizes are 200 x 200 for TVs up to 32 inches, VESA 400 x 400 for TVs up to 60 inches and VESA 600 x 400 for bigger screen TVs such as 70 or 84 inch.

Removable stand

What if you don’t have anything particular in mind? Are you not sure whether you will keep your TV in the living room or mount it on the wall to watch the movie while being in bed? TVs with removable stands offer this possibility and you can stay flexible with where the TV is located.

Landscape/Portrait pivot

If the TV is fixed in place, the only thing left is just to sit in front of it which can be inconvenient for some people. I would advise choosing a TV with a pivot point as it gives you a nice image doesn’t matter where you sit.

Features

Remote control

Do you always know where your TV controller is? If you are not that sure, have a look at the remote-control feature. Typically, it means that you can control your TV using a phone app so your controller is always with you (if you have your phone around, of course).

Smart TV

Smart TV is the TV that can use features to connect to the internet and operates different features around there like Browser, Youtube, Netflix access and so on.

Local dimming

Local dimming is a feature on many Samsung and LG’s LED TVs that dims the backlight behind parts of the screen that are displaying black. This means that black colored elements become deeper in color and clearer providing a true cinema experience.

Bluetooth audio streaming

If you have a Bluetooth audio streaming compatible TV, you can put the sound onto your earphones for a while when you are not present in the room. Just switch the Bluetooth on and enjoy the film while doing your own things.

Voice remote

Voice remote is as impressive as “hey, Siri” back in time. From benefits of this technology – you don’t need to care that much where your physical remote is, however, the downside is that you need to speak clearly all the time otherwise the result can be not the one you’d expect.

Voice remote

Voice remote is as impressive as “hey, Siri” back in time. From benefits of this technology – you don’t need to care that much where your physical remote is, however, the downside is that you need to speak clearly all the time otherwise the result can be not the one you’d expect.

Picture in picture

Have you ever faced the problem when you have a film on DVD you’ve always wanted to watch but there is a friend around who wants to see what happens in the next episode of her favorite TV show? With Samsung’s picture in picture, you can play two things at once and see both on the screen. That is quite a good feature if you have many friends and family around all the time or if both of your favorite films clash.

MHL-compatible

MHL is the technology that allows your smartphone to be a controller or act like a home theater unlocking every stage of smartphone experience in combination with TV. As well, MHL technology can charge your phone as well – this wired solution can charge your mobile device up to 40W.

Parental control

Are you part of the large family with little children and teens running around the house every day and you can’t keep an eye on all of them at once? Just put the movie on and all sorted. What if a child is naughty? Parental control feature may be a solution – you put in setting with channels your child is allowed to watch, and which ones require your own permission and specific answer or password to be entered.

Artificial Intelligence

Google assistant

Need to find the youtube video to be played on the TV? Let Google assistant help you to find that. The technology is the same as in Android phones – take your remote and ask for Google assistant – the rest will be done for you and results will be displayed on the screen in front of you.

Amazon Alexa compatible

Amazon Alexa is an Amazon service that can help you by looking at video titles and finding the video you need, control playback or to change channels if you tell the appropriate command.

Mobile features

Mobile App

Most brands that produce TV nowadays that support remote control, produce a special app for Smart TV to simplify the remote-control process. Apart from different buttons and controls that are standardized, it can have some guidance instructions and current settings displayed and include some extra features like brightness and color schemes.

Recording features

Digital recording

Usually, digital recorders are implemented within the TV, so DVR is a hard drive inside a nice-looking box that is located in your entertainment center. The hard drive is connected to the outside world through a variety of jacks on the back of the box, the typical RCA connections that you would use to hook up, say, a cable box or a VCR.

Watch and record

Missed the episode of your favorite TV series? DVR will help you with this, so you won’t miss anything important. It can record any TV program for you, so you can watch it later in your free time. You even create your own instant replays and watch any recorded material in a slow motion.

Panel

Panel technology

Have you ever wanted the quality of your best film to be better? You can do this by different panel technologies that do so by increasing the frequency rate of the signal transmission. In LG TV’s such technology is called TruMotion. For Samsung models, the analogy is called Clear Motion Rate.

Backlight technology

Direct-lit LED TVs are the type of TV that makes the gap between LCD and LED devices closer in terms of price. Their backlights are an offshoot of full-array backlighting, in that they use LEDs spread across the entire back panel of the TV. From the differences left, the significant one is that fewer LEDs is used across the back of the panel.

Native refresh rate, Hz

The native refresh rate is related to the number of times a second the image on the screen gets changed. So, if say there is a 60 Hz refresh rate that means there are 60 pictures change on the screen every second. All TV models from 2016 onwards will most likely have a 60 Hz refresh rate as most popular one (and maximum that you can get from any source).

Panel bit depth, bits

8, 10 or 12-bit color or what does it all mean? 8 bit color can display up to 16,777,216 combinations, 10 bit – up to 1,073,741,824, 12 bit - 68,719,476,736. Though not all colors can be recognized by humans’ eye, it can still be an impressive fact for your guests or just if you like to have the most modern technology in the house.

Pixel pitch, cm/in

Pixel pitch is the distance from the center of an LED cluster (or pixel) to the center of the next LED cluster/pixel measured in millimeters. Typical pixel range is from .9mm up to 10mm. Smaller pixel pitch, better the quality of the image due to more pixels that can be placed - pixel pitch directly correlates your display resolution and optimal viewing distance.

Pixel density, ppi

You can hear people talking about PPI when they mean image resolution. It comes vitally important when printing images, for example. The lowest acceptable parameter is considered to be a 225 ppi resolution image, in terms of TV it means that you should aim for the higher ones – higher PPI, better the overall quality of the picture and deeper the colors seem to the viewer.

Processor

Model

Most of the TVs use quad-core processor inside that allows supporting all features needed. Some of Samsung U-series use Hawk-MF processor as well, still, I would definitely recommend not to buy TVs with duo-core processors if you require something extra apart from watching digital channels.

Operating system

Operating system

There are different operating systems around, it depends mostly on the brand you decide to choose at the end and your personal preferences – they have lots in common, especially operating systems that are implemented in smart TVs. For example, Samsung U-series uses Tizen 3,0, LG – webOS 3,0 and Philips – Roku TV. Have a look which one pleases your eye more.

Power

Power supply, V

Almost all TVs use 100-120 V for the applications so ensure power supply you have is enough.

Typical power consumption, W

TVs typically use around 28-30W, therefore it is no way near as much as av receivers or subwoofers. If you leave it for a long time, even this can be enough for your bills to be affected so better to double check if you’ve turned it off when leaving the house.

Maximum power consumption, W

What if you decide to use all the features available at once? Don’t worry, your TV won’t use than 70-80 W for sure! I won’t advise to leave it like this for too long just in case of overheating hazard – use the technology wisely. If you are looking for the one to use at a maximum only, choose one of the Spectrum models – these TVs use the maximum of 65W only!

Standby power consumption, W

0.5W is used by the TV when it is just plagued in on its own and you don’t really use it at all. So, if you decide to buy a TV, be prepared for this extra to be in a bill for the following time. If compare to other devices, TVs are one of the most economical so you shouldn’t worry about this too much.

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