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The 8List Guide to Buying a Flat Screen TV

The 8List Guide to Buying a Flat Screen TV

Looking for a new TV? In this guide, we distill the technical jargon and give you the basic knowledge required for you to choose a brand new living room centerpiece.

8. Look for the “Full HD” and “1080p” stickers

8. Look for the
TV buying photo 8a

When browsing the showroom floor, you’ll immediately note that flat screen TVs come with a lot of stickers attached onto the lower right panel. You’ll often see “HD Ready” or “Full HD” slapped on them. Here’s a tip: don’t make the mistake of buying a “HD Ready” television. This term is a bit misleading and has left many consumers confused thinking these two stickers mean the same thing. An “HD Ready” certification simply means that a screen can take HD signals from a source but display them in a lower “standard definition” resolution.

So… 720p or 1080p? We often see these stickers in the stores, too. 1080p means that there are 1,080 vertical lines on the TV screen from top to bottom. With 720p, there are 720 lines. More lines mean better image quality. The rule of thumb is that if you’re going for 1080p you might as well get a bigger screen to make the differences obvious to the naked eye. Which brings me to the next point…

7. Choose a screen size based on the viewing distance from your couch

7. Choose a screen size based on the viewing distance from your couch

Best Buy released a guide for choosing a screen to fit the viewing distance from the TV to couch. Bigger isn’t always better and knowing how far you are from the screen spells the difference between ultimate viewing pleasure and a huge migraine. Combine this tip with #8 and you’ll realize that anything above 40 inches is indeed a sweet spot unless you’re using the TV as a monitor for your computer (thus making you sit closer).

Screen Size Recommended Range
26″ 3.3′ – 6.5′ (1.0 m – 2.0 m)
30″ 3.8′ – 7.6′ (1.2 m – 2.3 m)
34″ 4.3′ – 8.5′ (1.3 m – 2.6 m)
42″ 5.3′ – 10.5′ (1.6 m – 3.2 m)
46″ 5.8′ – 11.5′ (1.8 m – 3.5 m)
50″ 6.3′ – 12.5′ (1.9 m – 3.8 m)
55″ 6.8′ – 12.8′ (2.1 m – 3.9 m)
60″ 7.5′ – 15.0′ (2.3 m – 4.6 m)
65″ 8.1′ – 16.3′ (2.5 m – 5.0 m)

Source: Best Buy

Note that the chart is only a guide. If you really must have that 55-inch flat screen one meter away from your face, by all means, go. But it’s gonna suck. Trust us.

6. Know the difference between Plasma and LED

6. Know the difference between Plasma and LED

Plasma: Amazing white balance and overall quality but prepare for a bigger electricity bill; recommended for film geeks.

LED: Mainstream viewing acceptance because of good quality viewing and saves on electricity as well.

LCD: It’s old tech. Don’t bother.

5. The Smart TV: Should I consider buying one?

5. The Smart TV: Should I consider buying one?

Billboard ads and showrooms are buzzing about the new SMART TVs from the big brands. A Smart TV is essentially a mini computer. You can surf the Internet, install games like Angry Birds (motion tracking allows you to use your hands to control the sling shot!) and even replace key components like the processor, so that you don’t have to buy a new television set every 5 years.

The question: is this for you? You need to ask yourself if you’re going to be connecting this to an existing media player, or more importantly, a computer. A standalone Smart TV might be redundant in this case.

4. What about 4K TVs?

4. What about 4K TVs?

The market is all ablaze with new 4K TV sets. They’re amazing. They’re huge. And they’re four times the resolution of 1080p (hence 4K). But channeling our #7 tip, four times the resolution also means that you will only see the difference the bigger the screen gets and it also means you’ll need to be able to afford one. The biggest consideration to 4K technology is this: to be able to enjoy 4K resolution, your media needs to be rendered in 4K and there still aren’t a lot of movies in native 4K resolution.

3. Know the eco-system of the TV you’re buying

3. Know the eco-system of the TV you're buying

Are you brand conscious? You might need to be, in this case. It didn’t matter if our smartphones and laptops had different brands but these days, it does. Most IT brands are also home appliances brands. It is important to do research to know whether your smartphone can exchange screens with your TV if you need to go to the toilet or if your Smart TV can access exclusive online services (that you may or may not need). Some LED TVs also come with special technologies that are compatible with the color correction/enhancement of their phones and cameras so the things you shoot on your camera will look exactly the same when played on the TV.

2. If you’re a gamer, consider input lag

2. If you're a gamer, consider input lag

This one is specific to gamers on the PC and console. If you’re going to use the TV for gaming, consider input lag. This is a spec that tells you how fast it will take for a signal to travel from your controller to an action on the TV. The lower the input lag, the better. It’s the time it takes for you to press the punch button to the time it takes the guy on the screen to actually punch.

Note that your friendly showroom salesperson may not know this bit of information. But with the powers of the Internet, you can easily search for the input lag of every brand and make. You can also consider this list from CNET.

1. Don’t be fooled when choosing HDMI cables

1. Don't be fooled when choosing HDMI cables

They’re all essentially the same. The difference between the ones that cost thousands of pesos and the ones you can get for less than PHP 500? Aesthetics. Don’t be fooled.