TV Buying Guide, Part I

November 2nd, 2017

It’s that time of year when the stores put their TVs out for display—4K, curved, LED, OLED, HDR, HD, 4K Ultra HD, Smart TVs… so many acronyms! And so many choices! If you’re in the market for a new TV, and it’s been a few years since your last purchase, the choices can be overwhelming. Here are a few things you’ll want to know, starting with the jargon…    tv buying guide

What Does it Mean?

  • HD – High definition (720p) and Full HD (1080p) refers to the screen’s resolution
  • 4K & 4K Ultra HD – also refers to the resolution
  • LED – light-emitting diodes (used for majority of today’s sets) use a backlight to offer a wide array of color and brightness
  • OLED – organic LEDs, instead of a backlight, for superior contrast
  • Curved – the shape of some 4K and OLED TVs, meant to immerse the viewer
  • HDR – high dynamic range refers a new feature to enhance the color, contrast, and brightness of the 4K TVs.
  • Smart TV – has built-in Wi-Fi to connect internet-based services. Most new TVs include these services, although they may vary between brands.

Screen Resolution

Horizontal lines of pixels make up the picture you see on your screen. The number of lines scanned in a single pass determines the resolution of the display and how sharp the picture will be. Older high-definition (HD) sets are found at 720p. The most common today are full HD, or 1080p. However, today’s technology is even more sophisticated.

Instead of HDTV, manufacturers are now creating Ultra HD sets referred to as 4K. These screens offer four times the number of pixels contained in an HDTV and are becoming the standard. A 4K TV makes the image of even the smallest objects appear much sharper, vibrant, and more life-like. Be aware, though, that to achieve the absolute best picture, the program must be recorded in Ultra HD.

Size Matters

One of the biggest factors to consider before purchasing a new set is the size. Several factors go into this decision, such as: Where will you mount or set your new TV? How many people typically watch the TV at the same time? How close to the TV do you normally sit?

A good rule of thumb to follow is to sit at a distance from the TV that is 3 times more than the height of the screen for HDTV.  For example, if the screen is 27” high, you should sit at least 81” (almost 7 feet) from the set for optimal viewing. The recommended distance for Ultra HD sets, however, is just 1.5 times the screen height, or twice as close.

The most popular sizes today are between 55 and 65 inches; however, you should choose the largest screen size that will fit your space and your budget.

Measure Properly and Plan Carefully

A 55” TV means that it is 55 inches from the lower left corner of the screen to the upper right corner of the screen (or vice versa) and does not include the bezel, or frame. Many TVs today have little to no frame; however, if the one you like does have a frame, take another measurement that includes the frame to determine the overall space you’ll need in your room or on your wall.

A TV on display in a store, surrounded by other TVs, will look much smaller than that same TV in your living room. Once you’ve decided on a size, and before making the investment, cut a section of cardboard to the overall size you’re considering and place it where your TV will be mounted. This way you can see how it will actually look on your wall or stand.


Today’s flat-screen TVs have little room for speakers, so their sound quality is not what it used to be. To supplement your awesome new TV with its excellent picture, we recommend either a surround-sound system or a soundbar. Both will give you great sound. A soundbar is clean, simple, and affordable. Easily installed under the TV, a soundbar can notably enhance your viewing experience. A surround-sound system includes a number of components strategically placed around the room and provides an immersive experience. For movie buffs, the latter is the way to go.

Stay Tuned for More…

Watch for our next post where we’ll explain even more things to consider when buying a new TV, such as color, connections, setup, pricing, and the best time to buy. Ambiance Systems is always available to help you through the entire process, including wading through the jargon to make the right decision, installation, and set-up. Give us a call. Super Bowl is just around the corner!