How to buy an awesome TV for the new Premier League season
Thinking of investing for the return of the Premier League season? You are not alone. Finding the perfect one to watch Rooney, Drogba and company is not as simple as just buying the biggest set with the brightest screen to plant into your living room.
So, here are the key things to look out for when buying a TV to enjoy the action over then next 10 months, starting with some of the bigger questions you need to decide on before you start looking.
What size TV should you buy?
The bigger the better if you want to increase your sense of ‘being there’. We’d say a 46-inch TV would be our minimum, but if you’ve got a really small room you could perhaps go for 40-42-inch to get the ideal viewing distance. It's worth bearing in mind that the best quality pictures and most features tend to be on these bigger screens, too.
The general rule to get the perfect size TV is that you should sit 1.5 times the diagonal measurement of your TV. This means if you sit six-feet (72-inches, or two metres) from your TV, 46-inches or so is good. It’s just a rough guideline, though, so don’t get too obsessed about it.
Is 3D worth bothering with?
A quick scan of the Sky 3D channel listings shows there's very little in the way of live coverage of Premier League games this season. Sky says it still has plans to broadcast 3D matches but has clearly been very quiet on the subject.
It's very apparent that for the time being, unless you want to watch matches from the Premier League archives, wondering whether to go for passive or active 3D is something you don't need to worry about it.
What about 4K?
In September 2013, Sky with the help of Sony delivered the first live broadcast of a Premier League match in 4K. The glamorous tie between Stoke City and West Ham was part of a series of tests that stretch back to trials at the Emirates stadium in 2012 with a view to a roll out in the future.
There is a greater appetite for 4K from manufacturers and though 4K TV prices are starting to drop, you don't necessarily need to run out and get one.
Sky has not confirmed whether it will be showing matches in 4K this season. Meanwhile rival broadcaster BT has future plans to give matches the Ultra HD treatment through its large investment in fibre optic cables. This will produce the necessary internet speeds to deliver 4K transmissions.
In an interview with the Telegraph back in February this year, BT's Group Chief Executive Gavin Patterson discussed the growing sports rights, which now includes Champions League football from the 2015/16 season as the main reason to invest in a 4K future.
MORE: What is 4K and Ultra HD?
Curved or not curved?
The next big debate in TV, Samsung and LG are currently the only two manufacturers to embrace curved TV screens. Some of the claimed benefits include creating a greater a sense of depth and immersion, improved contrast performance compared to ‘non-curved’ screens all of which are beneficial for a big group of you huddled around a TV.
It has its downsides as well, like the that fact that you have to have a big curved screen to truly appreciate the benefits of curved TV, you need to be in the sweet spot to get the best experience and last but by no means least, they are not cheap.
SEE ALSO: Curved TVs: The Pros and Cons
What about Smart TV?
Having a Smart TV is not essential for domestic football viewing and in fairness, most TVs now support connected features to access on-demand channels like BBC iPlayer or internet services like Twitter.
Currently Smart TVs from Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Philips and Sony all offer access to the application, among hundreds of other apps.
If for some reason the TV you go for doesn’t include Smart TV support this can easily be rectified as long as you have a spare HDMI port and an internet connection. Just buy a Chromecast dongle or Roku Streaming stick, two simple products that cost less than £50.
What makes a good TV for watching football?
So those are some of the bigger issues, but what should you look for when buying a TV specifically for watching football (and other sports) at home? Mostly they're the same things that make a good, general TV, but these two factors are particularly important.
Smooth, blur-free motion
Motion is one of the most important things. When Arsenal is intricately keeping hold of the ball it just outside of the box, spraying the ball from one man to the next, you need a TV with a fast enough response time and a high refresh rate to be able to ‘keep up’. Otherwise you’ll end up with blurring and fuzziness.
Plasma used to make the most compelling argument due to its faster native response times compared to LCD TVs, but the latter has closed the gap. An LCD TV like the Samsung UE40F8000 for instance has a 100HZ refresh rate to keep action looking smooth while offering exceptional contrast levels, deep blacks and detailed images.
When in the shops, look closely at the ball in demo footage and see whether it ‘shimmers’ or has a ghost like shadow. The best TVs don’t have this, or are noticeably better than lesser TVs.
Loud and clear dialogue
The other, oft-neglected, feature to look out for on a new football-enhancing TV is sound quality. The trend towards ever greater slimness makes it difficult for most TVs to produce any real power and range with their audio, yet being able to accompany the sporting action with the sound of the crowd can really enhance your involvement with the action.
With this in mind, we’d recommend looking for screens that either have a bit of frame size to them, giving their speakers room to manoeuvre, or else TVs that use a separate woofer on their rears to boost bass and take some of the burden of the main stereo speakers, all of which should help ensure you can hear the commentary as well as the atmosphere.
Something like the 65-inch Sony KDL-65X9005B 4K TV for example has six front-facing speakers to deliver the best sound we’ve heard on a flat panel TV while at the other end of the spectrum the sub-£1000 Panasonic TX-L50E6 delivers a well-rounded, audio performance.
You can also consider looking at a soundbar or soundplate, which sits underneath a TV to produce a richer, more satisfying audio experience.
SEE ALSO: Best Soundbars Round-up
Best TVs for Watching Football: TrustedReviews Recommends
With all the above considered, we've picked out some our top picks for the best TVs for watching football below. There are more, of course, but choose any of the above and you're guaranteed an enjoyable season of football views.
Best TV for Watching Football under £500: Sony KDL-42W705B
Well it's not strictly under £500, but it's going for around £519 on Amazon still making this 42-inch set great value for money and ideal for watching football. It offers good motion handling thanks to Sony’s Motionflow X200 motion processing which produces a 200Hz refresh rate. Black level response means dark scenes are rendered superbly well for a TV so should be ideal for those late evening kick offs.
There’s built-in Wi-Fi to access features like Social View to view scrolling tiers of Twitter feeds and a dedicated Football mode that changes the picture settings to suite football viewing while also providing shortcuts to football-related YouTube content. Sound is better than your average super-skinny TV but it might be worth considering an external soundbar to ramp things up in the audio department.
Price: £600 (£519 from Amazon)
SEE ALSO: Best Cheap TVs 2014
Best TV for Watching Football under £1,000: Samsung UE40F8000
A 40-inch TV we gave a full 10 out of 10 score to, it's since dropped below £1,000 making it even more of a great buy. Super slim frame and thin bezel aside, it has a healthy four HDMIs, three USBs and built-in Wi-Fi to get access to Samsung's great Smart TV platform.
You can expect outstanding contrast and sharpness performance to make sure the action comes out nice and clear with 100HZ motion rate giving it the kind of motion handling system that makes it standout from the LCD TV crowd. Considering the slim frame, the 40W down-facing speaker system also blasts rich audio which should save you shelling out extra on an expensive soundbar or surround sound system.
Price: £1,449 (£999 from Richer Sounds)
See Also: Best TVs 2014
Best TV for Watching Football when money is no object: Sony KDL-65X9005B
For the complete picture and sound package, this is currently the best TV to own. It’s a 65-inch beast future-proofed with 4K and includes Sony’s Smart TV platform so you can get key access to all the key on-demand services like BBC iPlayer and apps like BBC Sport.
For Full HD and 3D image quality, it excels particularly in the black level response department, while the exceptional picture sharpness and colour accuracy help produce the spectacular 2D results. Add in the brilliant speakers included from last year’s model and extras like a built-in camera for Skype video calls to gloat about the results and although expensive, this Sony TV is worth every penny.
Price: £3,600 (£3,349 from Currys)
See Also: Best 4K TVs 2014
Or maybe go for a projector…
For an alternative big screen experience, you could always go for a projector. Whether you have £500 or £5,000 to spend, you can hook it up to your laptop or other suitable device and beam high resolution images against the nearest free wall to get similarly pleasing results.
To find the most suitable one for your price range, you can check out our round-up of the best projectors.