The Simplest Guide to Buying a TV

Buying a new television can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The alphabet soup of terminology, how pixels translate into a better picture, understanding what a smart TV does, and why you need one can confuse any consumer. This is why I’ve developed this super-simple guide to help demystify the television-buying process.

Measuring Your Space

With manufacturers offering televisions ranging in size from 22 inches to a whopping 110 inches, determining what size you need is probably the easiest part of your task. Figure out where your new television will go and measure your space. Even though it’s important to know the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the wall or space where your television will go, you’ll also need to measure on the diagonal since television-screen sizes are measured diagonally from corner to corner.

Understanding the Alphabet Soup of TV Terminology

Do I want a 4K UHD, SUHD, or OLED TV? When looking at your television, you want the best picture possible. The higher the number of pixels per square inch provides a better picture. Pixels are microscopic graphic picture elements that look like squares in a grid if examined by a high-powered microscope but our eyes process as images. A larger number of pixels per square inch provides a smoother, more realistic, and highly detailed image on your television screen.

4K UHD and SUHD TVs have similar resolutions of pixels per square inch. The “S” in SHUD stands for “super.” This is a term used by a single manufacturer. “OLED” stands for “organic light-emitting diode” and is a different technology than your traditional LED TVs. OLED TVs have the newest television technology, but new technology often comes with a higher price tag. Since a television is an investment, purchase the best one you can afford.

Deciding Between Flat or Curved Screens

UHD and SUHDs are getting flatter and thinner and some manufacturers are even making curved models. The curved models are designed to provide a more immersive experience since the curve of the screen places the image in your peripheral vision. If you’re constrained by budget or the type of mount for your new television, a curved screen might not be the best choice.

Considering Smart TVs vs. Streaming Sticks

Smart TVs feature built-in streaming capabilities and apps that work thanks to a built-in Internet connection, allowing you access to a library of content to stream on demand. Even though there are more smart TVs coming on the market, a streaming stick serves as an easy and affordable way to stream content with the TV you’re considering.

Do Your Research

Even if your current television breaks and you’re in need of a replacement, it is still worthwhile to take some time to research what’s on the market before you buy. Pay attention to prices and compare big-box stores to online retailers. Many brick-and-mortar big-box stores have competitive pricing and will match current online offers. If you’re looking to upgrade in the future and don’t necessary need to make your purchase right away, there are certain times of the year to find deals on televisions. Keep an eye out in the weeks leading up to the winter holidays, Father’s Day, and around football bowl games.

Know Your Budget

If it’s not in the cards to buy the television you’re coveting, it’s wise to wait. Technology is constantly changing and as it improves, the price of the product you so desperately desire today will drop in price. There are cost effective ways you can upgrade your viewing experience to fit your budget and this quick summary provides a look at the different tiers of pricing for the products mentioned in this piece:

  • $—Streaming Stick
  • $$— Smart TV
  • $$$- 4K UHD/SUHD and OLED TVs
  • $$$$- 4K UHD/SUHD Curved TV

Television buying doesn’t have to be complicated. To find one that fits your space, budget and lifestyle, and to enjoy your investment for years to come, measure your space and do a little homework to understand the latest acronyms, pricing and the capabilities you need.