Getting a smart TV isn’t as simple as, well, getting an ordinary television. The smart tag can sometimes turn out to be a gimmick and not exactly what you were looking for. We’ve been there before and want you to make smarter decisions than we did. So we’ve come out with this smart TV buying guide to help you understand some technicalities and make a smart decision. Read some of our suggestions below to help yourself with that purchase.
4K vs. 1080p
Okay, this should be your first question. Remember when you had to decide between 720p and 1080p? Well, this is something similar. 4K televisions support a resolution of 3,840×2,160 (usually), while those on 1080p can lighten up 1,920×1,080 pixels at any instance. No, it’s not double the pixel count, but four times as many pixels on a 4K TV compared to one supporting 1080p resolution.
Yes, higher resolution means better quality, but only if you have the content. Most of the content your view on HD channels is 1080p. There are very few 4K channels currently airing 4K content.
However, if you do use Netflix or Amazon Prime and have a fast enough internet connection, you might have your hands on some 4K content to begin with. Also, those with a PS4 Pro or the upcoming Xbox One X should be able to play their games in 4K (if the games support it).
With such limited content why 4K you may ask? It’s a bit of future proofing that’s it. On televisions below 50″ size, you might not be able to even differentiate between the two. However, for larger size TVs, we recommend 4K if your budget allows.
Do you need HDR?
If you’re getting a 4K TV, don’t get one without HDR support. Why? Because HDR TVs with their high dynamic range (HDR, duh) allow you to see greater level of depth and colors and better contrast in your videos. Yes, the difference might not be extreme, but it does add to the experience and is totally worth it.
Again content that currently supports HDR is limited, but the future is where we are looking at.
For 1080p televisions, we’d say get one that supports HDR, but the choices are rather limited.
What about the OS?
For those of us who chose Windows Phone a few years ago, the struggle for finding the popular apps was real. The same is true for televisions as well. Smart TVs, like your smartphones, have an operating system. There are many of these in the market like Android (yes, made by Google), Opera, webOS, and a few more.
Okay, while most of these would have your popular apps like YouTube and Netflix, they might not have others like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc. We advice getting a TV with an OS that does have these apps (hint Android or webOS). Otherwise, you’ll end up buying either Apple TV, Fire TV, or Chromecast to make up for your TV’s shortcomings.
Don’t forget the HDMI standards
While every TV has an HDMI port these days, there’s a bunch of jargon that you need to be aware of.
To have your TV stream audio to a 5.1 home theater you need to have an HDMI ARC port on your TV. ARC (audio return channel) is supported on HDMI 1.4 and above. If your TV doesn’t have HDMI ARC support, it needs to have a digital optical port for streaming 5.1 audio.
To stream 4K content at 60Hz, you need to have a TV with HDMI 2.0 standard, while to support HDR, you need to have HDMI 2.0a onboard. Don’t worry though, if your TV does support 4K and HDR, it will most likely come with these ports too.
What’s this refresh rate?
You’ll see TV manufacturers claiming refresh rates as high as 800Hz. Good, but 100Hz works fine too. The refresh rate refers to the to the number of frames a television can show per second. If you’ve gamed on a PC, you’ll be instantly able to connect the term with FPS. Higher the refresh rate smoother the motion and less motion blur.
The only issue being that most of the content in the market tops at 60Hz. So a TV with a 60Hz refresh rate is practically as good as one with a 120Hz refresh rate. Don’t run after TVs with higher refresh rates. It’s a marketing gimmick.
While most of the TVs come with 20W audio, you might find a few with 16W. That doesn’t mean it’s 20% less loud that the other one. A little less loud yes, but not in the same proportions. Read this post for more help on this.