My question: What are the best HDTV brands?
I recently picked up a PS4 and did some research on good 1080p TV brands. I wanted a unit that had multiple HDMI ports, USB, 1080p, and was a good value for my buck.
That’s how I defined best, and the set for me was a 40″ Vizio Smart TV. Granted, it was more of a bedroom-set size by most folks’ standards.
But, it has the options I needed for gaming. It is also a Smart TV, which I thought I needed but had second opinions afterwards.
Brands I considered
I did a fair amount of research, using customer reviews on Amazon.
Also, I read an article on consumerreports.org from 2011 that said “LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony” were the top name brands, and that “Hitachi, Insignia, Sharp, Toshiba, and Vizio are just a bit below those, with consistently strong performance.”
I’ve had experience with Sharp, RCA, Panasonic, and Sony TVs. Only the RCA failed, and the others became obsolete due to their CRT design, size, and lack of modern options.
Guide to selecting a good HDTV
Fortunately, CRTs are gone. Now the choices are mostly light emitting diode TVs (LED) or organic light emitting diode TVs (OLED).
LED technology uses a liquid crystal display to construct the picture. The display is a panel of small pixels containing liquid crystal.
When a pixel becomes electrically charge, its opacity changes. To create color, pixels have colored filters that light passes through.
LED TVs use LED lights for backlighting, which provide great contrast and color.
Backlighting, pixel opacity changes, and colored filters help create the picture.
OLED is similar to LED. The difference: OLED technology features no backlights and pixels can create light, color, and opacity.
OLED technology is better. It features a lighter picture without the backlights and typically has better color saturation, contrast, and brightness.
The drawback is price. Example: The LG Electronics 55EG9100 is a 1080p 55 inch OLED set. It costs almost $2000.
The LG Electronics 55LF6100 is a 1080p 55 inch LED set. It costs almost $600.
If money is no object, OLED is the way to go. For those who are budget conscious, LED is the way to go.
Resolution: SD vs HD vs UHD
Although you can still buy 720p, it’s not high definition; it’s just standard definition.
For high definition, you want one that outputs 1080p as a minimum.
But, there is a new technology called ultra high definition, which outputs at 4K.
The new 4K technology contains more pixels in the display, which improves the resolution. It contains 4 times the screen resolution
That means 4K produces a much more detailed picture at certain distances. At other distances, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. That brings us to size.
According to THX, “most consumers can begin to distinguish individual pixels only when standing within six feet” of a 50-inch 1080p unit. What does that say about 4K?
“If your viewing distance is 10 feet or greater, an Ultra HD 50-inch display will likely have little perceived benefit in terms of image clarity and sharpness – which can be attributed directly to the increase in pixel count,” according to THX.
Size it up
About 10 years ago, a 40″ inch television was humongous. Nowadays, it’s the size we put in bedrooms as second units.
We use 40 inch or larger in our main viewing areas. But, it makes the most sense to purchase a size that fits your viewing area.
If you’ve ever sat too far away from the set, you know you strain your eyes to see the details. If you sit too close, you strain your neck and the TV doesn’t look that good.
The best option is to use a screen size and distance calculator like this.
Options, options, options
The set should have all the options you’ll need. You may have multiple game consoles to connect, a DVD or Blue ray player, or may want to connect a computer to the set.
This means you’ll want multiple HDMI connections. And if you have a VCR, you’ll want RCA analog inputs.
Want to add a soundbar or connect your stereo? Consider a HDTV that has outputs.
Multiple USB inputs are another benefit depending on your needs.
Are smart tvs worth it?
I asked myself if Smart TVs were worth the money when I bought one. I debated.
But now that I own one, I can answer my own question: Are Smart TVs worth it?
Nah, I don’t think so. I thought it would be a replacement for a small HTPC.
I intended to play PS4 through the HDMI input, then use the smart TV functions for streaming music, NetFlix, and YouTube videos.
It did not work as planned. The remote is cumbersome to search, and the hardware is slow. It is a stripped down computer.
I much prefer a small HTPC media center. It is still the answer because it provides more options. Inexpensive media center like Fire TV, Apple TV, etc. provides the same solution.
It’s probably better to spend more on getting a TV with better picture quality than to get an smart TV with Ok picture quality.