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Key Considerations When Choosing a New TV

With endless options on the market, buying a new TV can feel overwhelming. As a home technology enthusiast, I‘m often asked for advice about choosing the best model. Rather than recommending specific brands, I find it more constructive to arm shoppers with key information to make an informed decision themselves. Here is my in-depth guide to the most important factors to evaluate:

Picture Quality

Evaluating picture quality includes resolution, display type, contrast, color accuracy, viewing angles and brightness.

Resolution

The sharpness of the image based on how many pixels make up the display. Most new models today are 4K, which provide over 8 million pixels for ultra high-definition viewing. 1080p TVs are still available for budget buyers focused less on crispness.

Display Type

Common technologies used:

  • LED – Most affordable and widely available. LEDs light up a LCD display panel. Provides good but basic HD/4K image quality.
  • QLED – Advanced LED TVs using quantum dots for expanded color range and brightness.
  • OLED – Self-emitting pixels product brilliant colors, infinite contrasts and wide viewing angles. Considered top-end.

Brighter, more uniform displays typically provide better clarity and picture depth.

Contrast Ratio

Critical for distinguishing light and dark areas of an image and perceiving depth. Higher ratios (5,000:1+) indicate richer blacks and vibrancy.

Color Accuracy

How faithfully colors are reproduced based on color gamut testing. Look for ratings of 90% or greater compared to Rec 709 HD standard.

Viewing Angles

Angle from center where contrast and colors start to shift or fade. Wider angles prevent distortion for off-center viewers. 170+ degrees is ideal.

Brightness

Measured in nits, higher brightness makes highlights pop and improves contrast. 500+ nits delivers impactful HDR.

OLED panels tend to provide the best all around image quality, followed by advanced LED TVs with full array local dimming and quantum dot technology.

Smart Features

Nearly every new TV comes with built-in smart software for streaming entertainment. Interface, app support and remote are key areas of differentiation.

Interface & Navigation

The GUI for navigating menus/settings and accessing integrated apps. Should be intuitive and responsive.

App Support

Number and availability of popular integrated streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and more. Most support staples but gaps exist.

Remote Control

How the remote interacts with the TV. Look for quick access buttons, voice control, wireless connectivity and even gaming-friendly remotes. Could drive preference.

Streaming sticks remain an option to supplement smart functionality if a TV‘s platform feels sluggish or incomplete.

Reliability & Longevity

TVs are a major investment, so product life expectancy matters. Component quality and software support weigh on sustained performance over years of ownership.

Build Quality

Durability of materials, safeguards from faults like short-circuiting, tolerance specs. Metal & glass designs tend to feel more sturdy/rigid.

Electronic Reliability

Well engineered components including processor, backlight system and power regulators essential for seamless operation over product lifetime.

Software Support

Ongoing firmware/OS updates to address bugs, maintain compatibility and deliver new features. Lack of updates risks apps not working or security flaws.

Japanese and Korean brands like Sony and LG historically excel in reliability metrics, while discount players trail. Yet outliers exist across price tiers.

Ports

The inputs/outputs available to connect external devices like Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, cable boxes or even PCs. Future-proof options are ideal.

HDMI Ports

Look for 3-4 ports, HDMI 2.1, enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC). More HDMI and latest spec enables full device compatibility.

USB Ports

Convenient for media playback. At least 2, ideally USB 3.0, situated side/down facing rather than rear.

Legacy Ports

Analog connections for older gear or special applications. Component, coaxial, Ethernet, etc. Not critical but keep needs in mind.

Models meeting HDMI 2.1 spec guarantee readiness for 4K/120fps gaming, variable refresh rate and more by current standards.

Audio Quality

Onboard speaker systems range from low quality to impressively immersive. External audio is an option to upgrade experience.

Speaker Configuration

Basic TVs offer 2.0 channel audio with left & right speakers. Higher-end models boast 2.1, 5.1 or more discrete channels using dedicated drivers + subwoofers.

Speaker Size & Placement

Larger, front-facing drivers and precisely placed surround speakers greatly enhance output. Thin TV profiles can limit size/positioning.

Sound Formats

Advanced audio decoding for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X delivers 360-degree soundstage. Top-notch for Blu-ray & streaming.

Built-in audio makes basic TV viewing manageable but falls short of full home theater effect for discerning listeners.

Brand Reputation & Budget

With so many variables at play, brand reliability and pricing sweet spots can simplify selection. Seek quality components without overspending.

Brand Heritage

Legacy TV makers like Samsung, Sony and LG continue to garner trust through years of product cycles and customer service. Budget competitors still proving themselves.

Reviews & Testing

Third party test labs like RTINGS provide in-depth technical evaluation and calibration of TV lineup. Great source of objective comparisons.

Price Range History

Observe a brand‘s product tiering and price fluctuations year over year. Flags value-driven players unwilling to hike prices vs. true premium offerings commanding higher price tags.

Budget

Benchmarks for price based on display size:

Screen Size Budget Mid-Range Premium
55" $400 $800 $1200+
65" $600 $1000 $2000
75"+ $800+ $1500 $3000+

Target spending that secures desired visual performance level rather than fixating on a particular brand name.

By weighing the above criteria – visual specs, smart features, product quality, connectivity, audio and value – shoppers can filter down to models that fulfill their unique needs and budget. It is difficult to single out specific manufacturers as universally better or worse. Carefully assess what performance factors matter most for your use case and room to make the optimal selection.
Reputable review sites also offer side-by-side comparisons and scoring/awards across yearly model lineups. Leverage these resources before any major TV purchase. Let me know if you have any other questions!