How to choose an LED TV
Today LCD televisions have replaced our good old cathode-ray tubes. If your old box television is past its better days or you have simply decided to upgrade to a new generation of television, you will need a TV that matches your needs and your budget. For many people it is difficult to decide which one should be the successor: are the words HD Ready, Full HD, HDMI all a bit confusing? This guide will help you to understand what you are purchasing and make an informed decision.
The different types of LED technology
LED screens are actually the same as LCD screens, except the light comes from light-emitting diodes and not from neon tubes behind the screen (like it was before). Because the words we use have been misused over time, LED and LCD screens have been differentiated from each other. As they are less bulky than neon tubes, LED TVs are considerably thinner and they have fewer borders around the screen. Light is also better distributed and the resulting image is of better quality. There are 2 types of LED technology:
– EDGE LED: The light-emitting diodes can be found around the edge of the screen, which then project light towards the surface of the screen to illuminate the pixels. Example of an Edge LED TV: Haier LE32A650CF LED (£230)
– FULL LED: The light-emitting diodes are equally distributed behind the main LCD surface. Each one is adjusted individually, which allows us to have a darker shade of black in areas where it is necessary. Example of a Full LED TV: LG 47LM960V (£1600)
A new OLED technology (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) has been on the market since 2013. OLED does not use LCD and the image has better contrast, colour and fluidity. However, this technology is more expensive and the diode’s life span is shorter. Examples of televisions with OLED technology: LG 55EA980V (£7500) and Samsung KE55S9C OLED (£7500).
Screen resolution and size
By definition, the resolution of your TV corresponds to the number of pixels on the screen. The more pixels there are, the more detailed the image will be.
There are 3 different types of resolution:
There are several different screen sizes varying from 19 inches to 60 inches. The bigger the screen, the more viewing distance you will need to make most of the image. There is a calculation that you can use to find out how far away you need to sit from the television:
– HD Ready: Measure the diagonal of the screen and multiply by 2
E.g. If the diagonal measurement is 107cm, you need to sit at least 2.20metres away.
– Full HD: Measure the diagonal of the screen and multiply by 1.5
E.g. If the diagonal measurement is 107cm, you need to sit at least 1.60 metres away.
For the same sized screen, a Full HD screen requires less distance than a HD Ready screen.
Important: if the source of the image you are looking at is not in HD (for example: a DVD or a video cassette) the quality will not be as good.
Your TV’s style is an important criterion because it will be a part of your décor. More recent televisions give a less cluttered look, with the choice of colour such as white, black, grey, silver and brushed metal. Other criteria like the width of the TV’s border, the stand and the style of the remote control can also be considered. Example of a stylish TV: Philips PDL8908 (£3000)
Contrast is something that you should also consider when choosing your TV. A large contrast means that the dark colours are dark and the light colours, well…light. TV manufacturers have done lots of research to achieve good quality contrast. If this is done well, contrast also influences the restoration of colour, which will be brighter and less pale. Several optimised models are available such as the ‘mega contrast’ from Samsung.
We can measure contrast in the following way: x:1 the higher the number ‘x’ is, the better contrasted you will have. For example a 900:1 will have less contrast than a 2000:1.
Generally cinema fans and gamers prefer to have a deeper shade of black and a brighter shade of white.
The viewing angle is important, especially if you watch programs as a family or with friends. According to where the viewers are sat, the image will not have the same impact. The wider an angle is, the less quality you will lose (contrast, colour etc.). The ideal angle is 160°, but nowadays the majority of TVs do have a large viewing angle. However to avoid any problems, always check beforehand.
It is better to have a TV with a lower response time between 2ms (milliseconds) and 6ms so that you don’t have any afterglow. As a result the image will be more fluid and sharp. You should take this into account for video games or action films.
Horizontal Scan Rate
A higher horizontal scan rate of around 100hz means that your eyes will not get as tired as they did with a cathode-ray tube television (50-60hz). Additionally, you will also have a better quality image and less of a blurry effect during action scenes. You can find scan rates going as high as 1000hz, however if the television is only going to be used to watch the news, you will not need such a high number.
Being able to connect other devices to your TV is an important factor, especially if you have lots of technical gadgets! Today we can find ports such as:
-HDMI for high-definition devices (Blu-ray players, amplifiers etc.)
-Scart connectors for your video player, DVD player, satellite box etc.
-VGA and DVI for your computer
-USB for hard drives or other external devices.
Check how many plugs and ports the TV has so that you do not have to plug in and unplug your devices over and over again.
It is possible to find models with one or more USB ports to connect your hard drives and look at your photos, videos or listen to music. Make sure that your TV will support the formats that you require.
Internet and associated services (Smart TVs)
If you have an Internet subscription, you can also access online services or enriched content using an integrated Wi-Fi or regular Internet connection. This will allow you to surf the web, rent films, re-watch programs or use applications directly from the TV. An example of a Smart TV is the LG 47LA790V (£1200)
If you are interested in 3D, there are 2 different types of technology available: active 3D and passive 3D.
– Active 3D: your 3D glasses will need lithium batteries in order to work. You will have a good quality image but your glasses might make your eyes tired. An example of an active 3D TV: Sony KDL46EX720 (£1800)
– Passive 3D: your 3D glasses do not need any type of energy to work and the overall effects are the same as active 3D. The image quality will also be better and your eyes will not ache so much. An example of a 3D passive TV: LG 60LA740S (£3000)