Believe it or not, size isn’t everything. It’s common to think that the bigger your TV the better, but actually you should aim to choose your screen size based on how far away you will sit from the screen. Here’s a quick guide:
- Less than 1.5 m = <32 inches
- 1.5 to 2m = 32-39 inches
- 2 to 2.5m = 40-45 inches
- 2.5 to 3m = 46-55 inches
- Over 3m = 56 inches<
Screen size is measured diagonally from top corner to bottom. This doesn’t include the bezel (frame) – only the screen itself. Bezels are actually far smaller and narrower now than they used to be, so a 46 inch TV today would actually be much more compact than the same size a few years ago. You may be able to go up a size if you’re upgrading.
For the average family, it will be quite unlikely that any of you will be sitting within 2 metres of your screen. If nothing else, it’s bad for your eyes! A good bet for a standard-sized living room would be a TV of between 46 and 56 inches – the largest that will fit comfortably in the space and not feel overpowering.
Also assess your space, of course. Larger rooms may look a little like something is missing if there is just a small screen in the corner, and similarly a small bedroom could be overrun by anything over 32”
Having said that bigger isn’t always better, there are plenty of reasons why getting a larger screen could improve your viewing. We have given the pros in the FAQ’s
In simple terms, screen resolution refers to the number of pixels that your TV screen is made up of. The higher the number, the better the resolution.
The most common screen resolution that people go for nowadays is 4K, which is 4x the quality of 1080p Full HD. This is pretty much standard for a new TV; you definitely shouldn’t go lower than this if you want your television to be a futureproof investment. As the screens have got bigger, the resolution has had to adapt.
Having said this, there are still plenty of 1080p options out there, and they will generally be cheaper if you’re on a budget but still want a larger size and a good choice of connections.
720p models are the oldest option about now, but still readily available and most common in smaller screen sizes and cheaper options.
- 720p – 1,280 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 720 pixels down the screen vertically. Around 1 million pixels make up a 720p display altogether, which sounds like a lot but depending on the screen size, may actually be poor. This is why they are mostly found on smaller screens, so they can pack more densely and still give a good picture
- 1080p – Referred to as Full HD. 1,920 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 1,080 pixels down the screen vertically. They offer around twice the number of pixels compared to a 720p altogether, meaning the picture is technically twice the quality. This allows for slightly bigger screens
- 4K Ultra HD – The ‘4K’ comes from the fact they are 4x the resolution of full HD sets. They are quickly becoming the norm with new televisions, and are getting much more affordable. Many streaming sites can now offer 4K programming, and 4K Blu-ray discs and players are also widely available
- 8K – Not content with 4K, Samsung and Sony are now producing 8K televisions. They aren’t massively commercially available, and will likely cost you over £10,000, but if you want to futureproof your investment to the max and are always ahead of the curve, then you may want to consider it. Read more about the pros and cons of 8K televisions below in the FAQ’s
You may not have as much freedom over whether to have an LED, OLED or QLED screen as you previously thought.
OLED screens aren’t available in sizes smaller than 55”, and QLED is 49”. The latter is also exclusively made by Samsung, so you’re also restricted regarding brand. So if you’re after something smaller than this, you’ll have to opt for LED, which is the most common option.
- LED – Light-Emitting Diode. A form of television which uses LED backlighting instead of the cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) backlighting, shone through an LCD screen. They offer better contrast and colour range, more energy efficiency and more rapid response rates than old LCD models, and are more widely available than OLED or QLED, but aren’t seen as the absolute latest technology
- OLED – Organic Light-Emitting Diode. They use self-emissive light particles (the individual pixels make their own light), so don’t require a backlight. This makes them a lot slimmer, and also allows for higher contrasts over a large screen, and deeper blacks as they can turn themselves off
- QLED – Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diode. Samsung’s response to OLED, which uses LCD technology but with a quantum dot coating over the backlight. As these dots don’t currently emit their own light, they still need a backlight. But the picture is sharp, detailed and of high contrast as the particles can be controlled for colour output
Refers to high dynamic range. 4K and 8K televisions give the best picture as they pack more pixels into a screen, but it is the HDR which gets the best out of those pixels. There is no point in having them if they aren’t any good, after all.
So 720p/1080p/4K tells you the quantity, but HDR the quality. With HDR, you get deeper blacks and brighter whites, and more contrast between the two. A firework will be clear, crisp and vivid against a dark sky, rather than looking blurry.
On standard screens, everything below a certain brightness is one standard black. You can tell the difference between just dark, and really dark. Pop on a horror movie and you will see what we mean.
You will mostly find HDR in Ultra HD screens
You may have noticed that screens are getting thinner and thinner. It’s great for aesthetics and the picture, but it’s not great for sound.
Most standard TV speakers are actually not that good in terms of sound quality, so if you’ve invested in a nice TV then you may also consider getting a soundbar to complete the home cinema experience. Soundbars can be bought for relatively little cost – maybe around £200 – and they make a significant improvement to the sound while being compact and easy to use and install. Other options include soundbases or entire home cinema systems.
If you don’t want to spend any more, or like the minimalist uncluttered look, then look for a television with Dolby Atmos and which is rated highly for sound quality
Don’t be fooled by advertisers making out that smart televisions are some kind of big deal. Almost all new TVs are ‘smart’ nowadays – it simply means that they can connect to your Wi-Fi or Ethernet, so you can browse applications, connect to your other devices and use streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, or catch up on BBC iPlayer.
Just make sure that the model you buy will support all of the services that you want to use. Some will offer only certain apps, but the most popular will usually be there. Ones which may be harder to find include Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV, Apple TV and social media apps like Facebook.
Other devices which they can connect to may include your smart speaker, or some smart lights which can create a real 4D atmosphere. If you want a cheaper television which isn’t Smart-ready, you can always purchase a Smart TV Streaming Device
Many smart televisions now also have voice control. You will have likely seen this with the latest Sky Q or Amazon Fire Stick remotes, and it just makes life easier – especially if you’re a voice-control geek.
The most common which are integrated into television remotes are Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Bixby. They generally do the same thing, so it is down to personal preference. It will just make finding programmes and changing channels much easier, without infinite scrolling or switching between apps. If it isn’t built in, then as mentioned above, you may be able to connect a smart speaker to the television for voice control instead
The range of connections and ports available on televisions is now a bit smaller than previous years. HDMI has overtaken scart sockets as the picture connection of choice for example, and RCA cables are also being phased out.
There are loads of additional appliances which you can connect to your screen compared to ten years ago, too. If you want a soundbar, you’ll have to look for an HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) port, or optical digital or analogue outputs at the very least
This is basically how fast the picture can change. If you’re watching an action film or gaming, then you want this to be as high as possible. You usually should opt for below 120Hz.
Manufacturers tend to use their own measurements, so one brand of television is not always comparable to others. Samsung use Picture Quality Index (PQI), for example
Some of the top-end televisions will have this feature. It basically means that when the screen is not in use, it can display other features rather than being plain black.
This can range from photos from an album on your phone or USB stick, to a large clock or the weather, to the background of the wall behind it to fully blend in.
It is mainly designed with people who hate having a black screen on display in their living room as it damages the aesthetics. We personally don’t think it is a must-have – people aren’t exactly going to be shocked or disgusted by the TV in your room – but it could be a nice extra to use if you have it, especially if you really tune the image into the surroundings