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Finding the best HD TV requires research and a consideration of your specific needs.

How do I choose the best HD TV?

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Since June 12, 2009, when most television stations stopped broadcasting in analog, it's been impossible to buy a new TV that isn’t HD-capable. Although the change to HD was mandated by the US government, the high-resolution viewing experience has made HD TVs popular with consumers. With the 4k HD TV market growing over 40 percent between 2015 and 2016, manufacturers are competing to develop the newest best HD TV, driving the development of many of the newest features including:

  • Ultra HD, also referred to as 4K HD, which offers definition equivalent to a movie theater, four times more than a full HD TV
  • Internet-ready TVs that are designed to join your Wi-Fi network
  • Smart TVs that are integrated with popular apps like Netflix and YouTube
  • Curved screens that provide a more immersive viewing experience
  • 3D capable TVs that bring the popularity of 3D movies to your living room

The days of simply running to the store and picking a TV are over. With new technology being offered regularly, it can be difficult to know how to find the best HD TV to fit their needs.

To help you in your search for the best HD TV, we asked some of the electronics experts on JustAnswer to give their opinions on what you need to know.

Meet the Experts

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Anthony has more than 20 years working with televisions, with nine approved TV-Electronics qualifications. He has been an expert on JustAnswer since 2009.

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Josh has been working with cable, Internet, and phone for more than 20 years. He has also been a contributing expert on JustAnswer since 2009.

What factors should people take into account when shopping for HD TVs?

When you're ready to buy an HD TV, it's easy to be intimidated by the terminology and number of things to take into consideration. When you look at an HD TV, you can be presented with a wall of information such as:

  • 120Hz or 240Hz, a measurement of the framerate of the HD TV. The higher the Hz rating, the more seamless the framerate will be when you're watching.
  • Dual or quad core processors, because choosing a faster processor will make it easier to handle multiple apps and browsers
  • Firmware that requires updates that need to be managed using USB or Wi-Fi connection
  • Cable cards that allow you to unscramble TV channels without using a cable box
  • ATSC/QAM tuners that let you access unscrambled channels like local access television station.
  • Contrast ratio, which is the difference between the lights and darks. A higher ratio is better.
  • Response time, which is how fast the HD TV can create an image. Lower numbers are better here.
  • Energy efficiency has become much less important since the cost of running HD TVs has dropped to just a few dollars per year.

With all this information to consider, it's easy to lose track of what matters to your viewing experience. Here are our Experts' answers to this question.

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Always (and nothing to do with the TV itself) the warranty, for TV it's essential that warranty is undertaken, preferably built into the deal at no extra cost.

Screen size: Make sure it's the correct screen size for the room the set is going in, for example, a 70-inch set is too big in a 10-foot-square room. Failure to get this right may lead to eye tiredness and poorly defined picture, even though definition has gone up to 4k, assuming the signal is transmitted or hooked up at 4k.

Smart TVs have apps, so if it’s a particular app that attracts you, make sure the app devisor/owner is under longterm contract with the TV manufacturer.

Make sure you have the right inputs! Too often people buy a TV and soundbar, for example, to find they have got a soundbar with incorrect hook ups.

Anthony
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People should pay attention to all the ports. More ports are better. Count all the devices that you will connect by HDMI and add one more for the future. Look for an optical audio port for a sound bar. If you have an audio receiver, then it will manage your HDMI ports and you won't need as many. Finally, prepare for any legacy devices that aren't HDMI-friendly like an older DVD player.

Josh

ANSWER SUMMARY: What factors should people take into account when shopping for HD TVs?

Kinds of ports: There are two kinds of ports on an HD TV, HDMI and component ports. If the TV you choose doesn’t have enough HDMI ports, you'll end up spending a lot of time switching cables. Component ports include:

  • RF ports
  • Stereo and composite volume ports
  • S-video ports
  • Component video ports
  • VGA ports
  • Ethernet ports
  • USB ports

Selecting a TV size: HD TV sizes are measured diagonally from corner to corner. When you look at an HD TV, you should measure the space you have available and make sure that the actual dimensions of the unit will fit in the space. In a smaller room like a bedroom, a 25–30 inch TV should be fine, but in a larger room like a living room you probably want to go with a 40 or 50 inch TV.

Maybe the best HD TV for you has all the bells and whistles

What should people avoid when choosing an HD TV?

Almost as important as the features to look for are the things to avoid. Many less expensive HD TVs are cheaply made, and won’t offer the same performance as a higher-priced model. With all of the options, it can be harder to decide which TV in your price range will be the best HD TV for you.

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There are budget TVs for the low-end markets; personally, I would avoid these and stick with the big boys like SONY, SAMSUNG, PANASONIC, LG.

Anthony
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Avoid buying the most expensive TV just because it's higher priced. Avoid TVs on a sharp clearance price. Those are usually cheaply made. There is always a better TV with fancy advertising, but it boils down to making sure the TV has good reviews, fits your need, and isn't out of your budget. Also, most speakers are horrible and if you like audio, you'll probably purchase an external speaker so don't worry about the speaker.

Josh

ANSWER SUMMARY: What should people avoid when choosing an HD TV?

The decision about which HD TV to buy is a balancing act with your budget. The big-name brands will have a higher price tag than the second-tier manufacturers, but they can make up for that cost with the quality of the parts they use, the availability of replacement parts and the terms of the warranty. Saving money doesn’t necessarily get you a better deal.

Taking the time to do some research on the model you are considering can help you to make your most informed decision. Learning about common problems with the TV, and reading about other people’s experiences can help you avoid choosing an HD TV that you will come to regret.

Consider the space when choosing the best HD TV for you

Are there new HD TV technologies (3D, curved screens, etc.) that people should consider?

With some of the advancements that are emerging in this market, even the best HD TVs can seem dated or even obsolete quickly. Even with the dropping costs of HD TVs, they are an expensive enough purchase that it's worth considering upcoming technology.

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OLED and QLED both are different formats for back-lighting, I don't know about "prepare," because it's already here to a degree. Other than that and an HDR for enhanced color, I'm not aware of anything else just yet.

Anthony
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I like basic HD TVs with no frills. I watch new technology to see how the large trend follows with it. I still don't own a 3D TV because there isn't a strong demand for it. So I don't foresee any new technology that would affect how current TVs operate.

Josh

ANSWER SUMMARY: Are there new HD TV technologies (3D, curved screens, etc.) that people should consider?

There are different methods of presenting an HD image. Some of these options include the two that Anthony mentioned:

OLED: This stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, and it generates a high-quality image that features the best contrast ratios. OLED screens have fast refreshing speeds and look great from more angles. They are very expensive, but the pricing is becoming more competitive.

QLED: This refers to a Quantum dot or nanocrystal display. While the term quantum is thrown around casually and often associated with magic-like capabilities, in the best HD TVs, they make an actual difference. QLED screens have incredibly dark blacks and highly rich colors.

As Josh mentioned, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple and avoid getting sucked in by the newest bling. Giving a new technology time to be sure it is offering enough value can save you from spending a bunch of extra money on a set that doesn’t live up to the hype!

Any closing thoughts?

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It’s not a big thing I am aware of in the US, but here in the UK disposal of faulty product for a lower carbon output is. I have noticed some customers in the US I have spoken to are bothered about disposal of old broken product safely and correctly.

Anthony

Answer summary: Any closing thoughts?

It is anticipated that by 2020, half of all North American households will have an HD TV. This will mean that there will be many TVs that will be broken or replaced. At that time, it will be important to know how to dispose of an HD TV.

Give it away: If your old TV still works, consider giving or selling it to someone else who could use it. Better to get continued use out of the unit instead of just recycling it.

Recycling: Because of the materials used in the unit, if your HD TV is damaged, you can’t just leave it out with your trash. You'll need to take it to a local recycling center, or look for local electronics recycling programs. BestBuy is another place where you can recycle your HD TV.

 

There are many confusing new technologies and terminologies in the HD TV market. With a little time spent researching and making some important decisions about what you actually need, you'll have no trouble finding the best HD TV for your needs.

For help finding the best HD TV for you, the electronics Experts on JustAnswer are a fast and affordable way to get trustworthy answers to your technology questions!

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