Buying a TV? Make sure to read this quick guide first!
It's tough times if you're in the market for a premium TV today. Ever since Panasonic stopped producing Plasma's there's be no easy recommendation for the image enthusiast on the market today.
Today, the TV buying experience is pretty horrible. Because TV's are by and large sold in big box retailers, they are all marketed and sold on the basis of "features". The truth is, almost none of the features are related to picture quality or actual enjoyment, but are just gimicks designed to trigger you in to upgrading or up sizing your TV. So we've decided to put together a guide so that you can avoid the salesperson's tricks and pick the best TV for your requirements.
"almost none of the features are related to picture quality..."
What is 4K, and do I need it?
The latest in a long line of "triggers" that TV manufacturers have been attempting to use to get people into buying new and more expensive televisions.
4K or Ultra HD is a very high resolution picture format designed to squeeze more pixels into your television. Each pixel typically represents one dot on your screen, which altogether create your image on screen. This is all well and good in theory, but the practical implications of this actually typically mean that people are getting a worse picture for their money.
Because 4K televisions are much more expensive to produce than traditional 1080P (Full HD) televisions, to produce 4K televisions at the prices people expect, compromises have to be made to keep costs down. The first targets are typically colour accuracy and the LED backlighting. This means that if you are watching a Blu-Ray on a three year old flagship TV, it will often look much better than a similarly priced new model!
"To produce 4K televisions at the prices people expect, compromises have to be made to keep costs down..."
The second big problem with 4K, is the severe lack of content. The only way to get 4k content currently (and the most likely way in the future) is using internet based streaming services. You tube and Netflix currently offer 4k streaming services. Unfortunately these streams are heavily compressed. To put this in perspective, the average 1080P Blu-Ray needs approximately 50mbps of bandwidth to get a good stable picture.
"A compressed 4k stream typically looks much worse than a 1080P movie from a Blu-Ray..."
The average 4K online stream requires 20mbps. So how are they fitting all these extra picture in less space? Compression. This compression translates to bland and poorly defined colours and average motion. Because these are more important to image quality than resolution, a 4k stream typically looks much worse than a 1080P movie from a Blu-Ray.
Basically, don't even think about 4K yet. There's no value in it, save your money for a few years until there are TV's on the market that actually care about picture quality.
Keep your eyes open for the first flat AMOLED panels to arrive, and don't even get me started on curved TV's.
So what about smart TV's?
Smart TV is the name given to accessing internet based content through your television. Things such as youtube, skype, internet browsing, playing movies from your network etc. are all typically catered for.
The problem is, people hardly ever use these in reality. Youtube and network playback are generally really useful, but almost every Blu-Ray player on the market does this quite happily! I am yet to see anyone use Facebook on their TV...
Again, this is yet another feature that doesn't add a lot of value to your TV.
What are the alternatives?
The good news is that while the TV market has been left to gimicks and tricks, projectors have come a long way! Full HD projectors with excellent image quality are now readily available at pretty reasonable prices. With the combination of a relatively bright projector and a high contrast screen, you can easily use projectors even in relatively well lit spaces. With retractable electric screens you can even hide them away completely when not in use!
For examples of some of our installations, you can have a look at our projector gallery here.
An example of one of our projector installations
The big screen impact, great colour accuracy, awesome contrast and low cost, if you care about picture quality today, it's one of the only options available...You can browse our range of projectors, here.
Optoma Excellent HD-91 Home Theater Projector