Important Specifications To Consider When Buying A TV
What To Look Out For When Buying A TV
Technical jargon can be confusing and overwhelming when you come to purchase a new TV. This list
of specs is designed to guide you through what all that jargon means, and whether or not it should be important to
you in your decision making.
Size And Type Of Screen
With most new models TVs being flat they do not take up as much room in the rear as older
models. Many can even easily be hung on a wall. You will need to consider though how much space, or wall space you
have to accommodate a TV and what size screen you would prefer to look at each day.
Your room size should ultimately determine the general size of the TV you buy
• For a main television in a decent sized living space, 40 inches or even more will be good if
you can afford it
• Bedrooms will be more suited to screens of approximately 32 inches or less
If it has been a while since you upgraded your TV, or you are upgrading from an older CRT
television the decision of size can be a difficult one. Flat screen TVs tend to look larger than actually are, so
beware of buying a screen that may end up being too small for your needs. Most people do prefer larger screens,
sometimes regretting opting for something smaller.
Are There Any Drawbacks Of Big Screens?
When it comes to television screens bigger does not always mean better. When viewing non-HD
content on a large screen the image often loses definition and quality, which it would not if viewed on a smaller
With large screen TVs you need to be seated a decent distance from the screen in order to get
the maximum viewing pleasure. Ideally this would be around 1.5 times the screen size when measured diagonally. So
before you buy consider if this is possible in the room the TV will be in.
Lastly, larger screens will ultimately take more power to run. They also have a tendency to be
the dominate feature of the room they are in, which may or may not be what you want.
3D TV Specifications
As you'll read above there are various advantages and disadvantages of buying a 3D television.
Before buying consider all the information in this guide as well as the following specs:
Although this feature will cost you more it will mean your TV will be able to convert standard
2D content into 3D content. As there are still many TV shows and movies released in the standard 2D format this
means you will get a little more out of your TV, and ultimately more for your money. However images made to be seen
in standard 2D format will lose quality once converted to 3D.
Not all 3D TVs will come complete with the necessary 3D glasses. In most cases you will have to
buy them separately - and you'll have to buy glasses for each member of the household in order to watch 3D TV
The features and technology used in a flat screen TV will determine its price. The more features
the TV has, 3D capability for example, the higher the price. Generally speaking prices increase with the screen
On average you can expect to be charged around $350-$1000 for a 32 inch screen. The price of a
60 inch screen would be around $1000-$3000.
The resolution of most of today's HD TVs is 1080p, with some models still around 720p. The lower
resolution does not always mean an inferior product. With smaller screens most watchers will not notice the
difference. Focus on finding favorable reviews about the TVs picture quality.
Type Of Screen Finish
The two types of screen finishes are:
The greatest benefit with a matte screen is that it does not reflect light. If the TV will be
housed in a brightly lit room a matte screen is important.
Glossy screens will reflect natural and artificial light making the picture sometimes hard to
see. Most TVs can be swiveled away from the light to combat this problem or you can use curtains/blinds to block or
diffuse the light. Glossy screens are more prevalent than matte screens.
The proportion of the width to height of a television screen is referred to as the aspect ratio.
Modern TVs generally have an aspect ratio of 16:9 but older screen will more likely have a ratio of 4:3.
The difference between the brightest and darkest color the TV can display is referred to as the
contrast ratio. A high contrast means you'll see darker black tones and lighter white tones, it also means there is
a very good color range in between.
While contrast ratio sounds like an important spec to consider when buying it is actually very
hard to measure accurately. Because there is no standardized way of measuring contrast ratio many manufacturers
measure it differently. Don't be fooled into believing that a ratio of 25,000:1 is half as good as 50,000:1 as it
is not always the case.
Generally speaking a Plasma TV will have a contrast ratio higher than other types of screens.
The difference or gap though is now not very obvious to most people.
Once you get your flat screen home it is likely that you will need to adjust the picture so it
suits your individual needs.
In order to adjust the picture settings and achieve a perfect picture in your home you'll need
to find a TV that has picture controls. Many TVs will offer preset settings you can choose from.
The refresh rate of a TV measures the rate in which the pixels on your television will refresh.
This is necessary in order to display moving images.
Refresh rates are measured in speed and are found within the TVs specifications. If the refresh
rate is 60Hz then the pixels are refreshed 60 times each second.
Low refresh rates result in a blurry picture, something that LCD TVs once had a reputation for.
Look for a television that has a refresh rate of at least 60Hz, this should not be hard to find with modern
TV screens are best viewed straight on, however depending on the layout of your living room this
may not be possible for each person watching the TV. A TV's viewing angle determines how far off center you can sit
and still view a good picture.
Plasma screens are renowned for having a superior viewing angle as compared with LED/ LCD
screens because of the way they are manufactured. While some manufactures claim to have a viewing angle of 180
degrees it is still not likely you'll experience a good picture from that angle.
If a Plasma screen and a LCD screen are both viewed in ideal lighting conditions you are
unlikely to notice that one may have a superior viewing angle.
The most common viewing angle of televisions today is 160 degrees, sometimes higher.
Response time relates to the time taken for pixels to change from black to white and back to
black again each time an image changes. A low number (in milliseconds) corresponds to a quick response time.
Put simply, the response time relates to how well your TV will display images in motion. A
quicker response time will result in less blur and a clearer picture. Although Plasma TV screens generally are
known to have a quicker response time compared with LCD TV screens, most people will not notice the difference when
comparing top models.
If you want to use your television to surf the internet then be sure to check your chosen TV has
this capability before you buy. Many modern models have this function but not all yet.
Why is an internet connection beneficial on your TV? It simply means that accessing online sites
and services such as Netflix, Skype and Facebook will all be possible directly through your television.
Some of the ways to connect your TV to the internet:
• Wi-Fi adaptor - which is sold separately
• Built in Wi-Fi receiver
• Ethernet cable
These features are more common on the mid or high-end televisions, with built in Wi-Fi not yet
commonplace. You will need an existing internet connection and additional charges or fees may apply to get yourself
If you have an existing games console (or similar) with this feature then save your money and
don't purchase the capability again with your TV.
Traditionally we used TVs for watching movies and television shows. Now in addition to that we
also use our TV to display digital videos and photos and in some cases play music.
If you wish to utilize your TV to view or play more than just movies then buying one with a USB,
Scart or photo port or even a memory card slot is ideal. It is an easy way of connecting your TV to other digital
When a new model TV is connected via Wi-Fi it is likely you'll be able to stream digital content
from various devices direct to your TV. Although not a necessary feature, especially if the TV has digital
connection ports, it could be a luxury addition.
If you are planning on using your TV to listen to music you should find out more about the
quality of the built in speakers by reading some consumer reviews. Alternatively consider connecting to external
Types Of Inputs
TVs nowadays have many inputs and it is hard to know what you'll need.
This is a very important input to have on a new TV these days. DVD players, games consoles and
cable boxes all require this input to be connected
Very commonly used input for various accessories
Component And Composite Inputs
Not entirely necessary unless you have older equipment that requires them
A remote control shouldn't be the deciding factor on your TV purchase but a good one can make
life easier. If possible one that will control other devices is helpful, such as your DVD player. Alternatively a
universal remote could be purchased to use on all your devices. Internet capable TVs often benefit from a keyboard
on the remote for use of use of internet apps.
Power Saving And Energy Efficiency Capability
Modern HDTVs are generally fairly energy efficient and are more than worthy of a good Energy
Star rating. With that said, it is still important to check its energy efficiency and power saving capabilities.
Some TVs will have various energy saving settings or options that you can choose to use if you are looking for a
'greener' TV. Plasma TVs generally use twice as much power compared with LED and LCD TVs.
A warranty is important when purchasing any electronic equipment and a TV is no different. Look
for at least a one year warranty on parts and around a 90 day warranty for labor.
Most retailers will give you the option to extend your warranty at an additional cost. Research
does show that HDTVs are unlikely to break down in the period of the extended warranty. It is a personal choice but
most see it as an unnecessary additional cost.
The Extra Accessories You May Like To Buy
Extra accessories vary depending on the TV you choose, here are some you may consider:
Wall Mounting Brackets
A good way to save space in your home is to mount your TV on the wall. Depending on the size of your TV this
could cost you a few hundred bucks.
Most people will opt for some form of stand if they are not planning on hanging their TV on a wall. Most older
stands will not accommodate a large modern flat screen TV.
Sometimes included in with the TV but you should always check. This is necessary to connect a DVD player to your
TV. Better quality cables provide better quality picture and sound.
Can be used in place of a Scart cable in most cases depending on the connections you have to work with. Low cost
options here provide about the same function as more expensive ones.
Protect your purchase with a surge protector.
There are so many variables to consider before you even set foot in a store to buy your new
television. A quick recap follows:
• Look for a standard resolution of 720p or 1080p
• Make a choice between LED, LCD or plasma screens
• 40+ inch screens are ideal for main living areas
• Maximum of 32 inch screens for regular sized bedrooms/kitchens
• Choose a screen size appropriate to your room size
• Ensure the TV has the necessary inputs to accommodate your devices
• Wi-Fi TVs will be in the higher price bracket
• 16:9 aspect ratio is most common
• To avoid blurry moving images look for a refresh rate of 60Hz
• 160 degree viewing angle is ideal
• Budget TVs range from $350-$500, larger TVs and 3D capable TVs range from $1000-$3000
• Ensure a warranty is included