WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
These days you need a translator just to understand all the jargon that modern TVs throw at you. To be blunt, you can ignore most of it. But there are a few things you should look for…
For out-and-out picture quality, OLEDs provide the greatest fidelity. These TV panels rely on organic crystals which, when they meet electricity, light up. This removes the need for a backlight – these are required in LED or LCD sets, but they bleach away some of the more delicate colours and contrasts. No backlight also means the panel can be thinner. The only drawback to an OLED is its price, costing around two times more than other panels.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) makes a big difference to picture quality. On an LED or LCD television it means that the backlight can be darkened or brightened where needed, for example behind blacks and greys. HDR mode will typically make brighter parts of the picture look, well, brighter, and blacker areas look darker. Blues and greens will come out richer and more lifelike, while greys and shadowy images will look more nuanced. HDR TV works best with content made for it, which is primarily being released on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, but most sets will try to use it to improve standard content.
All TVs now come with ‘smart’ features, but not all are made equal. Each brand will have its own TV operating system. None are perfect, and all come with their own quirks, so it’s worth visiting a shop and having a play with the interfaces before committing. It’s also important to check a TV is compatible with the services you subscribe to and like to use most. That said, if you have a set-top box and a games console, you’re unlikely to need most of these settings, and should therefore prioritise raw image quality.
WHERE TO GET 4K TV
Most streaming services are now putting out their latest films and series in 4K quality. Broadcast TV is slower to catch up, but SKY Q and Virgin both offer box sets and films in 4K, as well as sport like Formula 1 and the Champions League. The World Cup this year is being filmed in 4K, but no UK channel has yet confirmed that it’ll actually be broadcasting games in 4K. The BBC was trialling 4K iPlayer earlier in the year, so we’re holding out our hopes for that.