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Your Guide to Buying a TV

Televisions, like cars, are items most Canadians update every three to seven years. During that interval, few of us go out of our way to stay up to date on the latest tech trends and features. We’ve got TV shows to watch!

So when it’s finally time to upgrade our set, we scramble. Either we do a quick comparison of what’s for sale online, or we lean heavily on the advice of the tech wizard in our family.

Fortunately, buying the right TV is easier than you think.

We’ll go into greater detail later on in this post, but here are three things to consider if you need to buy a TV right away:

  1. Buy a television with a resolution of 1080p (or Full HD) or higher.
  2. Add a soundbar.
  3. If you want the very best, buy a 4K UHD television.

 

Buy a television with a resolution of 1080p (or Full HD) or higher.

Rephrased: Don’t buy a television with a 720p resolution. Yes, from a price perspective, they will be the most attractive. But those cost savings usually come at a cost of their own: faster to become obsolete, fewer functions and capabilities, and poorer picture quality.

Add a soundbar.

Aren’t slim panel televisions awesome? Yes, but this progress often comes at the expense of sound quality. A sleek soundbar resting below your new television not only enlivens your audio, but can also act as a wireless hub to play all your music files.

If you want the very best, buy a 4K UHD TV.

Featuring the highest resolution available on the market today, you can jump to the head of the tech class and impress your friends with a 4K UHD TV.

 


Businessman in front of a home cinema system

Size and Price

There are hundreds of televisions and TV bundles out there to choose from. And lots of specs and tricky terminology, too. Where do you even start?

Fortunately, the two most important things to consider when selecting a TV are ones the most technologically challenged of us can determine on our own:

  1. Size: How large a screen do you have room for?
  2. Price: How much are you willing to spend?

Based on your room size and budget, you probably already have an accurate idea of how large a screen you want and how much you’re willing to pay. And fortunately, electronics websites (including thebrick.com) allow you to filter through their online selection with both of these criteria in mind.

If you need more help in deciding what to buy, here is a breakdown of some key terms and technology.

Display Type: LCD, LED and OLED

Televisions have different ways to present images, and there are three types that are most important to know:

  • LCD: Today’s entry-level offering, LCD televisions are backlit, passing light through a series of polarizing filters in order to create the full range of colours you see on the screen.
  • LED: These are LCD televisions that use brighter, more efficient LED lights to illuminate the screen, perfect for high colour contrasts among other brilliant effects.
  • OLED: The gold standard of today’s televisions, OLED TVs use four colours to create each pixel (instead of three). Not only can each pixel self-illuminate, but they can also shut off entirely for a phenomenon that LG calls Absolute Black. That’s right – you can now make out the details of a black cat in a black leather jacket in the black of night.
XBR55X81_HC_WEB

Image courtesy of The Brick.

Resolution

What makes the picture on some TVs so much sharper and more detailed than others? It has to do with resolution.

Just as atoms are the building blocks of molecules, pixels are the building blocks of images. Each television set has a finite amount of pixels, and each pixel uses a combination of red, green and blue to produce all of the colours viewable to the human eye. Sit close enough to the TV and you can even see the pixels for yourself.

Resolution depends on how many pixels are lined up in a grid pattern along the screen. There are three common configurations on the market today:

  • 720p (HD) – 1280 x 720 pixels: The most affordable televisions on the market today use this resolution, the quality at which DVDs are set.
  • 1080p (Full HD) – 1920 x 1080 pixels: High-definition cable channels, most video game consoles and Blu-ray players are delivered in Full HD.
  • 4K (Ultra HD, or UHD) – 3840 x 2160 pixels: Newly emerging on the scene and slowly being adopted by more manufacturers and film studios, 4K resolution has four times the pixels as Full HD, for the sharpest picture available.

Refresh Rate

All of the pixels on the screen act as one to create a frame. And the illusion of motion is created by the number of times they refresh in a second. So, for instance, a television showing 60 frames per second would have a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Simple, right?

  • 60 Hz: This is the standard refresh rate on the market. In fact, some 4K television still use a 60 Hz refresh rate because of the processing power required to show all those extra pixels. The only potential drawback is an occasional blurriness during fast-paced scenes with rapid cuts, a phenomenon known as “ghosting.”
  • 120 Hz: Love to play video games or watch sports? This is the refresh rate for you. Also keep in mind that most 120 Hz televisions allow you to manually lower the refresh rate if it makes for more natural viewing, as is common for slower-paced comedies and dramas.
  • 240 Hz and Beyond: Refresh rates at these high latitudes don’t make that much of a difference in terms of motion quality compared to 120 Hz. But they are preferred for certain technologies, like presenting 3D content.

When it comes to judging refresh rate, it’s best to let your eyes decide whether a higher refresh rate is worth the higher price.

Sound

Anyone who has lifted an old tube TV is likely happy today’s models are thinner and lighter than ever. Some panels are even as thin as the width of a pencil.

That’s great news for practical purposes, but one of the features lost in the mix is speaker quality. Fortunately, there is an elegant solution for lovers of richly detailed sound: the soundbar and subwoofer.

Magnifi soundbar and subwoofer

Image courtesy of The Brick.

Not much larger than a tube of wrapping paper, soundbars sit at the base of your television and fill the room with sound. They can be mounted on the wall, too. Most subwoofers included in TV or soundbar packages are wireless, so you can place them wherever they are acoustically ideal.

If you’re the kind of low-maintenance individual who is content enough with the audio quality of the TV alone, then you might be fine without a soundbar and subwoofer. But before you dismiss them entirely, there are two important reasons why spending the extra few hundred dollars is more than worthwhile:

  • Soundbar packages are often bundled together with television sets for special promotions and sales.
  • Many soundbars can wirelessly stream music straight from your smartphone. So not only does this device enhance your viewing experience, but it also becomes your go-to stereo. A little soft jazz, Top 40s or new podcasts as you get home from work?

Primetime, Gaming and Movies Are Just Minutes Away…

If you’ve made it this far, then you’re probably ready to get set up with a new television.

The Brick makes shopping for a television online easy and affordable. Get started on your search today.

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