how to buy your next tv

by - July 30, 2015

Remember watching television with the family when your channel choices were limited to four or five stations and the youngest child was the one who had to get up to change the channel?

Screens were small, the tube was big and cumbersome and a remote control was an absolute luxury. How times have changed. Now you can change the channel simply by speaking, screens are ultra-thin, crystal clear and sometimes even curved, and an internet connection means you can watch whatever you want whenever you please.

“TV habits have definitely changed,” says Maetham Roomi, senior product manager at Panasonic’s home entertainment division. “We’ve become active viewers, rather than passive. We’re streaming more, using multiple screens and devices at the same time, and want to watch content at a time that’s convenient for us.”

According to statistics from the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA), more than 50 per cent of us watch TV or films online and with the proliferation of subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Presto this number is sure to rise.

But rather than squint to see the latest episode of Orange Is The New Black on your phone or tablet, smart TVs include apps — just the like ones on your mobile devices — so you can watch online shows just as you would view normal TV.

“All the things you can do on your phone — watch Netflix, look at YouTube and even browse the web — you can now do on your smart TV,” says Brad Wright, Samsung’s director of audio visual. Brad says “smart’’ features are one of the three most sought-after aspects people look for when buying a new TV.

“Picture quality is the most important thing people are after,” he says. “High definition and the new ultra high definition are definitely the standard people want. Quality is closely followed by screen size and the ability to watch video on demand services such as Netflix and Presto.

“What we’re seeing now compared to how people bought televisions even five years ago is so completely different — it’s a whole new ball game.”

What constitutes a smart TV?

Basically, a smart TV is a TV that can be connected to the internet. Manufacturers use a variety of terms to label their smart TVs including internet TV or Net TV and often the models have other features such as high definition, ultra high definition or 3D. It’s important to note simply having high definition or 3D capabilities alone does not constitute a smart TV.

What’s the difference between HD and UHD?

Ultra high definition (UHD) is one of the latest features on the market and is the next step up from what’s called full HD, the official name for the display resolution of 1920 by 1080. UHD quadruples that resolution to 3840 by 2160 or 8.3 million pixels. “Colours look more natural, objects look more solid and three dimensional and there’s a greater sense of depth in every image,” explains Maetham. UHD is also sometimes referred to as 4K by some manufacturers (including Panasonic).

Are bigger screens better?

Apparently yes, according to both experts and consumers who are now buying screens as big as 88 inches (measured diagonally from corner to corner of the screen). “We’ve seen a big increase in screen sizes in the past few years with the standard for TVs in the living room now around 55 inches,” says Brad.

Some experts such as David Katzmaier from tech website CNET say if you can only upgrade one feature, make it your screen size. “Stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money,” he says. “One of the most common post-TV-purchase complaints I’ve heard is from people who didn’t go big enough.”

David recommends making sure you leave at least an inch on the sides and top of the TV cavity to allow for proper ventilation. One of the other advancements in screen technology is the curved screen which, according to some, creates a more immersive experience for both vision and sound by mimicking the curvature of the human eye.

Do I need a hi-tech setup before I buy a smart TV?

A smart TV operates in exactly the same way as a normal television so you don’t need any hi-tech setup at home to get going.
“The only extra thing people need is a network connection — either wired or wireless to connect the television to the internet,” explains Brad.
If you’re planning to download movies, stream a lot of content or use your TV to watch YouTube, you should also ensure your internet plan is sufficient.
Depending on how many people are in your household a monthly data limit of around 100GB is advisable.

Do you have to be a tech whiz to operate a smart TV?

Most TVs are “plug and play” which means all you need to do is plug them in and you will be guided through the complete setup. “It’s as easy as connecting your antenna or cable TV box and turning on the TV. The TV does the rest including guiding you through setting up the network connection,” says Brad.

First published Home The Daily Telegraph 4 July 2015

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