There‘s a lot to think about when you’re buying a new HD television these days. Whether you’re moving into a new flat, or simply upgrading your old TV it’s easy to get bogged down in all the jargon. This guide covers all the questions you need to ask about HDTVs, from screen resolution to energy efficiency. If you’ve got a question about which model is right for you, read on.
HD stands for High Definition, which is a landmark step forward in picture quality; it’s been called the biggest development in TV technology since colour replaced black and white. Traditionally, TVs operated using an analogue system, but HDTVs use a digital signal to transfer much greater amounts of information. The result is a richer image and better quality – your favourite movies and shows have never looked so good.
Standard definition is still an option, but many see it as a dying breed of picture quality. By the end of 2012 the UK completed the digital switchover and also rolled out HD terrestrial TV, which indicated a shift towards HD broadcasts. Several major networks, including the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, provide free-to-air High Definition programming.
The improved picture offered by HDTVs comes down to the number of vertical lines they use to create an image. A traditional analogue television set used 576 vertical lines to make up the image on screen. To produce their superior picture High Definition televisions use either 720 or 1080 vertical lines, and are known respectively as HD Ready and Full HD television sets.
HD Ready televisions have a resolution of 720p (the ‘p’ stands for progressive scan – the most advanced method of transmitting the image), or 1080i (the ‘i’ stands for interlaced scan – a more basic technique for moving the picture). The image produced by a HD Ready TV is twice as sharp as standard definition, and clear enough to support any HD broadcast. However, 720p doesn’t push the limits of HD picture quality and may not necessarily be in full resolution. As a result HD Ready displays are suited to smaller screens.
Full HD employs 1080p and lets you enjoy the pictures of incredible quality. Images are clearer, bolder, and sharper than 720p. This format is ideal for watching sports and movies, and if you want to watch Blu-rays, a Full HD TV is the best option.
In many places it’s only possible to buy a HD TV these days, but when choosing between HD Ready and Full HD, consider how often you watch and what your interests are. HD broadcasts are becoming more and more common, so buying the highest resolution you can afford means the set is likely to last time.
Choosing a suitable screen size is a very important early step when purchasing an HDTV. Firstly, consider how much available space there is in the room you are buying the TV for. Designs are ever-improving and in general TV sets are becoming more compact, with many only an inch thick. Flat screen models which can be wall-mounted also help in saving space in your living room.
Screen size is typically measured diagonally across from one corner of the screen to another. In addition to thinking about how much space the TV will physically occupy, you should also consider the dimensions of the room and the distance you will need to sit from it. For any screen size up to 32”, an appropriate viewing distance is 1.5 metres regardless of resolution. For larger screens a bigger space will be needed, up to around 3 metres for any screen of 54”or more. The quality of the HD resolution will also make a difference here too. Due to the picture sharpness of Full HD, these TVs can be viewed in very fine detail from closer distances than HD Ready TVs.
LCD (liquid crystal display) screens give a good quality image; however, they need a considerable source of light to create an image which often means the body of the TV is slightly bulkier than other screen types. LED screens are a popular choice nowadays. They are backlit with many Light Emitting Diodes (hence LED) which gives a brighter display with better contrast. In other words; blacks appear darker, and whites look lighter. LED TVs are often thinner and more lightweight than LCDs, which can make them easier to wall mount, and they are also more energy efficient. Plasma TVs have large flat panel screens designed for home cinema use. They are made up of thousands of tiny chambers which light up to produce top quality high speed images and vivid natural colours, making them ideal for watching movies and live sports. Plasma screens are best suited to rooms with dimmer switch lights because they aren’t designed for brightly lit environments.
The vast majority of HDTVs can now be wall mounted to help you save space and give your home a modern feel. Our qualified experts at Euronics will be happy to install and set-up your new HDTV for you. This is not compulsory, however, and all our HDTVs come with a traditional standing base (unless stated otherwise). Some televisions are too bulky and cannot be wall mounted.
One important factor to consider when thinking about buying a new HDTV is its energy efficiency rating. With all the other decisions to remember like screen size and resolution type, energy rating is often forgotten about, but it is still important to make a purchase that is not only friendly to the environment but also friendly to your electricity bill. TVs have energy ratings that rank from ‘A+’ to ‘G’, with the former being more efficient. These rankings take into consideration the size and type of screen, so naturally a 56” screen HDTV with an ‘A+’ would use more energy than an 18” HDTV with a ‘C’ rating, however, a good rule of thumb is to look for a TV with a ‘B’ rating or above. Generally LED is considered to be the most energy efficient screen type.
No, any TV that offers 3D features will supply glasses, although you may wish to purchase extra sets if you like to have movie nights with lots of friends.
This depends what you want to use the TV for. HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is probably the most commonly used connection type for the transfer for audio and video, and every HDTV should have at least one of these. If you want to connect your TV to a smart set-top box, a games console or Blu-ray player, you will need one HDMI socket per device. Another commonly used connection is USB: keep an eye out for this if you want to plug in a USB cable or memory stick.
All terrestrial TV in the UK is now transmitted digitally. Several HD channels are already available through this service and all you will need to access them is a HDTV. Further HD channels are available through subscription to cable networks such as Sky.
As independent retailers, we pride ourselves on product knowledge and ensuring you get the right HDTV for you. The easiest way is to ask the experts. Products displaying the HD-ready logo have been officially recognised by the European standards association (EICTA) as having all the requirements to receive and display High Definition TV programmes.
At Euronics we believe in giving the very best electrical advice and guidance, no matter what it is you want to buy. So, to help you make the most informed decision we have provided a set of ‘buyers guides’. Use these to help you get the best information before you buy!