How to buy a television

How to buy a television

So you’re shopping for a new television. Standing in front of a synchronized wall of blaring monitors, you enter a dizzying world of sensory overload that gives you everything except answers to your questions such as: Will this picture look as good in my home as it does here? What features will I really use? Why is it so hot in here, and why don’t these stores sell cake?

When it comes to retail purchases, open minds lead to empty wallets. That’s why you need to know what you want before you get hypnotized by the TV wall. The following pointers can help you narrow down your search.

Know Thy Room
While the science of plasma gas versus liquid crystal displays (LCDs) excites some, to many others it a bit of a snore. Here’s what you need to know: Both models offer great pictures. How to choose between them requires you to put on your decorator hat and think about your space. Plasma TVs tend to give a crisper, more consistent picture from different angles, but the glass is also more reflective. That makes them a better choice for wide spaces with limited natural light. If you watch a lot of TV in a sunny room or a smaller space, then the bright LCD TV picture with better anti-glare features will probably be a better choice. Important.

Know Thy Size
Unless you’ve got Mark Zuckerberg money coming out your hoodie, chances are you can’t afford to buy new TVs every year. So rather than incrementally sizing up, go with as big a size as you can comfortably fit within your space. You’ll save money and hassle in the long run. Important.

Ignore the Math
You shouldn’t need a PhD in math to buy a boob tube. Things like contrast ratios, viewing angles, and refresh rates are inconsistent among manufacturers, and the differences aren’t really perceptible to our naked eyes, so all those numbers end up being a distraction. Not a big deal.

Ignore Lifespans
A mere ten years ago we were choosing between tube TVs and those two-ton rear projection sets that swallowed up any room they rested in. Today it’s plasma, LCD, and 3D. Tomorrow it’ll be flying sets that make us dinner. That’s how fast the technology changes. So when you read that Plasma TVs last 100,000 hours and LCD TVs 60,000 hours, what the manufacturer is telling you is your TV can outlive you and that you’ll probably get a new one way before the old one dies. Don’t worry about it.

3D, 4K, Oh My.
The idea of surrounding yourself with your TV content is pretty cool, but we’ve only scratched the surface of 3D possibility. So unless you’re a cinefile who can’t live without the limited 3D content currently available, you might want to wait a few years for more 3D content to come down the pike and for prices to drop down, which they will as manufacturers iterate on the technology. In the same sense, keep an eye on 4K TV technology that enhances HD. While you get an amazing picture, you currently have to pay through the nose for it. If you wait, the prices will come down will come down on those too. Might be important to you.

The case for Simple
A Smart TV comes with Internet capabilities that let Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu lovers watch their content without the use of another device. The trade-off is it costs more. A simpler “dumb” TV costs less and will likely have an HDMI port that you can connect a streaming media box to, adding many of those same capabilities. And it’s easier (cheaper) to swap out a streaming box than it is to replace your TV, so you might want to resist getting the TV that has more apps than your smart phone. It’s up to you.

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Carley
Photo by Daniel Collopy, Courtesy of HGTV.
OH, HI THERE!
I'm a digital lifestyle expert, helping busy humans make sense of the technology that's becoming an increasingly large part of our lives. I believe that technology shouldn't be stressful or scary— we can tap and swipe our way to a simpler life. Read more >

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