Just like computers, televisions have come a long way since the 1960’s. TVs were bulky, heavy, awkward, and expensive! TV providers, on the other hand, weren’t very reliable, didn’t offer many channels, and some of those channels didn’t even have color! You have to start somewhere, though!
The standard televisions at that time were using the good old cathode ray tube (CRT) for a display type, which was eventually replaced by modern LCDs, Plasmas, and the newer OLEDs. The standard resolution of a CRT TV was 640 x 480 pixels, which most people refer to as standard definition. The CRT also had a refresh rate of up to 60+ hertz, which is fine for smaller TVs, but doesn’t work well with larger TVs (50″+).
Imagine watching the World Series, World Cup, or the Super Bowl without color, in standard definition, and with a slow refresh rate on a 50″ TV? You would probably be better off if you were to sit in the nose bleed section of a stadium and use your binoculars to watch the game than to watch it from home.
Now imagine watching the same game (Whichever game is your favorite. There is absolutely no judgement here!) with today’s TVs. The best TV type can dish out resolutions that are 12x better than standard definition TVs, as well as refresh rates that are almost 10x better than CRT TVs! Not to mention that a 34″ CRT could way up to 200 lbs, whereas a modern 34″ LCD TV can weigh as much as 11 lbs. Basically, every new television today is at least 10x better than TVs from the 1960s. How awesome is that?!
However, there’s a ton of different televisions on the market today that offer different display types, screen sizes, resolutions, refresh rates, and other features. Most newer televisions can access the internet using an ethernet cable or by using a built in Wi-Fi (wireless internet for frequent interface). Some TVs today even come with 3D capabilities! Regardless, below is a short guide on different display types, resolution sizes, and refresh rates that you should consider before you purchase a new TV.
LCD/LED: A liquid crystal display (LCD) is a screen that works by passing a small amount of electricity through a special liquid-crystal film, sealed between glass plates that changes its optical properties when voltage is applied. A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor diode (a diode is an electronic device that allows an electric current to flow in one direction only) that emits light when voltage is applied to it. These TVs are generally cheaper than other models, consumes less energy, and they are both thin and lightweight. However, their picture quality isn’t as good as plasma TVs, though some of the better LEDs come close.
Plasma: Plasma displays consist of plasma cells that are placed between two layers of glass and electrodes in which each cell emits light when it receives an electric current. They are not as energy efficient as their LED counterparts because they generate more heat. They are also bulkier and heavier due to the size of their panels, unless you get the ultra thin versions. However, they have the best image quality (motion blur control, contrast, black, and colors). You should consider buying a plasma if you are planning on getting a TV that is larger than 42 inches, because LEDs can handle similar image qualities at sizes lower than 42 inches.
OLED: Organic light emitting diode (OLED) TVs are a bit different from LEDs. An obvious difference is that they are curved so that you can see the image from anywhere in the room. On the other hand, each pixel in an OLED TV illuminates itself compared to the LED panel. They aren’t as bright as the other TVs, and they aren’t as good at getting rid of motion blur, but they do have great black levels.
Resolution is a measure of the sharpness of an image with which a television can produce an image, which is measured in the amount of pixels: Width x Height (p). P stands for pixels. Each pixel can light up one color at a time. The higher resolution yields more pixels that can light up more colors, thus improving picture quality.
Standard definition: The standard definition resolution has 640 x 480 pixels. If you have one of these in your home, then it’s time for an upgrade! You will notice a huge difference in image quality once you switch to high definition (HD).
720p: The lowest high definition resolution. This resolution goes up to 1280 x 720 pixels, which is 2x better than standard definition. If you aren’t too picky on resolution but you want to upgrade, then choose this resolution. You should be able to find a cheaper TV with these resolutions.
1080p: An improved resolution from 720p. These resolutions can go up to 1920 x 1080 pixels. That is 3x better than standard definition! If you can’t afford TVs with higher resolutions, then get one at 1080p.
4K: This is a relatively newer technology known as ultra high definition. They can go from 3840 X 2160 pixels to 4096 x 2160 pixels. That is 6 to 6.5x higher than standard definition and 2x better than 1080p! If you want to think that you’re looking at real life, then get this baby! However, it is expensive!
8K: The future of television resolution! This future of awesomeness can reach 7680 x 4320 pixels. That is an amazing 12x better than standard definition, 4x better than 1080p, and 2x better than 4K! These TVs aren’t on sale to the public yet, but when they do, expect them to be extremely expensive, but at least the 4K TVs will become cheaper! Also, do not talk to the people you see on those 8K display TVs. They aren’t real people trapped inside those TVs!
Refresh rates refer to how often TVs update images on screen, which is based on your panel speed, and they are measured in cycles per second called hertz (hz). This allows objects on TV to move more smoothly. This is like watching traffic drive by. Open and close your eyes once every few seconds. Now, open and close your eyes as fast as you can. You can see more vehicles pass by. This is similar to how refresh rates work. Please do not try this while driving!
Older televisions had refresh rates of 60hz and lower. This means that these TVs could update images up to 60 times per second. Today, you often see refresh rates of 60hz, 120hz, 240hz, 480hz, and 600hz or higher. A new technology is called clear motion rates (CMR). This new technology makes refresh rates update images as fast as possible. The larger TV you have, the higher the refresh rate you should look into getting. However, some people argue that refresh rates over 240hz is unnecessary.
You should also consider how many high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) inputs that you will need, which are primarily used to connect your DVD player, game console, and other device that can be plugged into the HDMI input in the back, bottom, or side of the TV. Who knows where they are!
Another key feature you might need is a universal serial bus (USB) port, which is primarily used for technicians to repair your smart TV. However, you can insert a flash drive into the USB port to view images and videos that you have saved onto your flash drive from your computer, camera, or smartphone. If you need to, you can also plugin your cell phone or game controller into the USB port to charge it. Pretty nifty, right?
Speakers! If you want to hear decent noise coming from your TV, then you will need to get one with built in surround sound speakers. Be warned that not all TVs come with built in speakers, so you might have to buy them separately. Also, if you do buy speakers for your TV, make sure to keep them at least 12″ away from your TV! My friend placed my sound bar right in front of my TV, and all I heard was a boom. I looked at my TV to find that most of the black screen had turned green. Thank you, friend!
Some other features worth noting are TVs that are energy star certified. TVs that are energy star certified consume less energy than those that don’t! Some smart TVs also come with built in WiFi, Bluetooth, DVD player, and applications. If you don’t like having a lot of wires connecting your devices to your TV, then having a TV with a built in WiFi is a great way to get rid of those wires, but that only works if your devices have WiFi, too!
Let’s Hear From You!
What do you think is the most important feature of a TV? Can you notice a difference in resolution on some TVs? Would you trade in your new TV with the old school CRT? You couldn’t pay me enough to switch my modern LCD TV with that dinosaur! Which display type do you think offers the best picture? Is having a TV that has built in WiFi important to you? Do you only buy TVs that are energy star certified? Which brands do you like the best? I’ve had my Insignia TV for 4 years now, and it’s okay. It was the best bang for the buck, but I’ve heard a lot of good things from Samsung and Sony!