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How to buy a new TV
TVs are items bought relatively infrequently, so it can be hard to keep up with the fast pace of developments in the TV world.
The good news is that there’s never been a better selection of great TVs – with more sizes, the latest tech and attractive designs, it’s a great time to invest in a telly, but the process of finding a set can be confusing.
In this buying guide, we’ve focused on TVs from popular brands around the £2000 mark, with sizes that range from 40- to 65-inches to put you in prime position for your next TV purchase.
Where do you start?
Generally, the first things to consider is size and how much you’re willing to pay. The two go hand-in-hand; bigger sizes are more expensive than their smaller siblings, so you’ll need to have a think about how big a set you want.
Size is influenced by many factors: how much space you have, viewing distance and there’s also the consideration as to whether to wall-mount – there’s little point heaving a 40-inch TV onto a wall, after all.
– Read our guide on how to choose the right TV size.
In terms of spend there are 40-inch 4K LED TVs as low as £200, and while most TVs on the market are smart TVs as well, cheaper models will have fewer HDMI ports, less space for audio speakers and won’t be bright enough for HDR.
OLED TVs typically come at 55-and 65-inch sizes (due to the specific nature of the manufacturing process), with the cheapest models (such as the Hisense O8B) hitting the £1,000 point.
LED and QLED TVs come in a variety of sizes and prices, but the bigger you go the better they should be, with more room for speakers, more connections and better specs for HDR.
– Read our recommendations of the Best TVs around £1,000-£2,000
– Read our recommendations of the Best budget TVs
– Read our recommendations of the Best 4K TVs
What resolution should I choose?
That’s easy: 4K.
4K has replaced HD with TV manufacturers rarely launching new HD TVs ( Panasonic and Sony roll over their existing TVs each year).
4K TV, or 4K Ultra HD TV, has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 and a pixel count of 8 million, which is four times that of HD.
That gives the viewer a significant boost in detail, sharpness and clarity, and while you’ll need to native 4K content to make the most of it, upscaling technologies are getting better each year, making existing HD content look even better.
– Read more about what 4K is.
8K TVs are just hitting the market, but as the technology is still relatively new, they command a higher price. There’s also little native 8K content around, so manufacturers have placed their hopes in upscaling to bring sub-8K content to near 8K quality.
For now, though, there’s little reason for the average punter to consider 8K just yet.
– Read more about what 8K is.
What display technology should I choose?
Broadly speaking there are three main display types: LED-LCD, OLED and QLED.
LED is effectively an LCD TV – the LED part refers to how the panel is lit, but in common usage of the term, LED and LCD mean the same thing. An LED/LCD TV uses an LED backlight to illuminate the pixels on the screen. Their brightness, or luminescence, is measured in nits, and as they’re the cheapest type of panel to produce, they’re also the most common.
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Each pixel can emit its own light, which means OLED TVs don’t require a backlight – hence why they’re very thin – and each pixel can be turned off for true black performance and high contrast (the difference between an image’s brightest and darkest parts).
OLEDs also have wide-viewing angles, making them firm favourites for home cinema viewing. LG makes all OLED panels, but Panasonic and Sony add their own customisations. The manufacturing process of OLED panels is complex, but a breakthrough has led to a 48-inch model arriving in 2020.
– Read more about OLED vs LED
– Read our guide to the best OLED TVs
QLED is used by Samsung and is an improvement upon LCD. QLED TVs use Quantum Dots, which are arrays of tiny dots at slightly different sizes that produce different colours when backlighting is passed through them.
This allows QLED TVs to produce images of great brightness and vivid colours. Compared to OLED, they’re not capable of infinite contrast (true blacks) or wide angles, but Samsung’s 2019 TVs saw much improvement in this regard.
– Read more about QLED vs OLED
What are the other considerations?
The above will get you started, but for the really discerning, there’s some other stuff to consider.
Smart TV: Practically all TVs sold now are smart – which means they can connect to the Internet, and offer music, video streaming and management apps (Spotify, Netflix, Plex) as well as the ability to wirelessly connect to other devices.
– Find out more about Smart TV
HDR: HDR refers to High Dynamic Range, the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of an image. More talented sets (i.e. expensive) can achieve a better contrast.
There are different flavours of HDR in play in the industry – the standard HDR10, which is mandated to be on all HDR TVs plus Dolby Vision and HDR10+. The latter two are dynamic versions, and offer a better image scene-by-scene. Dolby Vision is currently the more widespread with more support and content.
– Read more about Dolby Vision HDR
– Read more about HDR10+
– Read more about HDR10