What connections will I need?
Connections don’t differ on TVS as much as they used to, with most sporting at least three (o en four) HDMI inputs – enough for a Blu-ray player, set-top box, games console and media streamer, for example.
4K TVS will have at least one HDMI port that’s 2.0- and HDCP 2.2-certified for native 4K and HDR passthrough, but we’d check compatibility if you plan to plug in several 4K sources.
Planning to boost your TV’S sound with a soundbar or soundbase? You’ll need to plug it into the TV’S HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) input – this takes the audio signal directly from TV to soundbar. Alternatively, make sure your TV has optical digital or analogue outputs for the connection.
End of an era
While some TVS feature composite inputs, most – even at the budget end – have phased out legacy connections such as SCART. So those clinging on to video cassette recorders, for example, should be aware of that. 48 An optical output can feed your TV sound to a soundbar, if you don’t choose to connect via HDMI. 2 Nearly all smart TVS have built-in wi-fi, although ethernet provides a more stable connection and is recommended for 4K streaming. 3 At least one HDMI socket will accept a 4K signal, so save this for your 4K Blu-ray player or 4K media streamer.
Smart TV apps
Smarts are even more common than 4K screens now, with almost every new model boasting built-in wi-fi and an ethernet connection, and hosting at least Netflix and BBC iplayer apps. Most add Amazon Prime Video and the rest of the UK catch-up services (ITV Hub, All4 and My5) to that list, too.
Netflix and Amazon have a growing content of 4K HDR content available, so it’s always worth checking that the TV you buy supports it.
And as the BBC continues its 4K HDR trials through its iplayer service, we’d check for 4K and HLG support through a TV’S iplayer app, too. Remember, just because a TV’S hardware supports a certain technology, that doesn’t necessarily mean all its software does.
Which TV screen size?
There’s more focus on bigger screens than ever before, with fewer 32in and 40in models appearing in new television line-ups thanks to the rise of big-screen-justifying Ultra HD 4K resolution.
But while it might be tempting to think that bigger is better, the size of set that’s right for you is closely dependent on how close to the screen you’ll be sitting, and the resolution of the source material you’re watching.
Luckily, an organisation called SMPTE (which stands for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) has published detailed guidelines on exactly how far you should sit in order to optimise the relationship of the performance of your TV and what your eyes can discern.
If you’re sitting the correct distance from your TV, you’ll see lots of detail, good edge definition and smooth, clean motion, but if you’re sitting too close to the screen, then you’re going to see more picture noise and artefacts. On the other hand, sit too far away from the TV and you’ll struggle to pick up all the picture detail your TV has to offer.
The SMPTE rule for watching Full HD TV (1080p) is that you should be sitting a minimum of 1.5 to 2 times the diagonal size of your TV away from the screen.
You can sit closer to the screen if you have a 4K TV – about one to 1.5 times the screen size – as you’ll notice fewer artefacts thanks to the higher resolution.
You’ve bought your new TV, now what?
Congratulations! You’ve clearly followed our expert advice and chosen well. But before you give yourself over to Netflix until the sun comes up, you’ll want to consider what else you’ll need to accompany your brand new purchase.
From improving your TV’S typically flimsy sound – whether that’s by adding a soundbar or a fully fledged surround speaker package – to picking a source (4K Blu-ray player, Sky Q box), we’ve put together some complete systems that will guide you on your way to enjoying your new television as part of a home entertainment system (see page 58 for details).
And then, when all that is set up, you’re good to go. Happy watching!
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