With Black Friday coming up, many South Africans may be interested in purchasing a new TV.
Making this purchase is not as simple as it seems, however, as there is a variety of factors to consider and compare, from refresh rates and contrast ratios to panel type and connectivity.
While determining which TV you prefer is often a case of comparing their pictures side-by-side, you can learn much about the device’s functionality and abilities simply by looking at its specifications and technical information.
It is also important to note that when purchasing a new TV in South Africa, you will be required to provide a valid TV licence.
We have listed five of the most important things to consider when purchasing a new TV below.
One of the most important features of a modern TV is its display panel type.
While LCD panels with an LED backlight remain the most common variant on the market, many high-end TVs offer OLED, QLED, or other panel technologies.
Unlike LCD, which uses liquid crystal to filter the backlight into an image’s colours, each pixel in an OLED panel emits its own light, allowing these screens to deliver much higher contrast ratios.
Samsung’s QLED panels also use newer technology to deliver improved contrast ratios and a better picture compared to standard LCD panels.
LCD panels can be separated into TN, VA, and IPS displays.
Twisted Nematic (TN) panels deliver the worst viewing angles but the highest refresh rates, while In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels offer great picture quality with lower refresh rates and response times.
Vertical Alignment (VA) LCD panels offer a balance of both, although for a modern TV you should opt to go for an IPS LCD panel over the other two.
Panel type is not the only display quality to look out for – you can also learn a lot about a TV from its display specifications.
Resolution points to the number of pixels on the display as well as its aspect ratio, and is the most important specification to consider.
Panels with Ultra HD resolutions (3,840 x 2,160) feature four-times as many pixels as those with Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolutions.
This can make a huge difference in picture quality on an equal-sized display.
Additionally, motion rates and contrast ratios refer directly to the refresh rate and picture quality of a TV, although the latter is also impacted by factors such as colour gamut and viewing angle.
Make sure to ask what the true refresh rate is, measured in Hz, as some manufacturers use obscure marketing definitions to conceal the objective refresh rate of the panel.
The contrast ratio is often displayed in a format like 1,000:1. The higher the ratio, the better contrast a TV has.
It is also important to note whether a TV supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) content or adaptive sync technology, the latter of which can be very useful for gamers.
If you are buying a mid to high-range TV, you will probably have encountered numerous devices labelled as “smart TVs”.
These run their own operating systems that allows them to connect to your home network and download applications, which they can run without the need for a dedicated set-top box.
However, these smart TVs often feature different operating systems, including Samsung’s Tizen OS, Android TV, LG’s WebOS, and more.
These operating systems may be compatible with different apps, and it is a good idea to check whether your favourite app (such as Netflix or DStv Now) is compatible with a TV’s OS before purchasing it.
This can save you the trouble of buying a dedicated set-top box just to use applications that are incompatible with your smart TV.
An often-overlooked component of purchasing a new TV is the warranty for the product, as well as the after-sales support.
While many new TVs will require you to take the device home and set it up yourself, some manufacturers offer free installation and setup for their high-end devices.
Additionally, you should ensure that your warranty covers eventualities like power surges and dead pixels, or risk being disappointed later.
Complimentary repair plans can also be very useful in case you have a habit of damaging expensive hardware – or over-enthusiastic guests and a Nintendo Wii.
Lastly, you should always ensure that the TV you are purchasing has the right type and sufficient number of ports to accommodate your various display-connected devices.
A high number of HDMI ports is great for gamers, as well as those who periodically connect their laptops or other devices to their TV.
USB ports can also be very useful, especially if you aim to watch media stored on an external hard drive.
If you are planning to purchase a smart TV, you should also consider the wireless connectivity specifications of the unit.
Look for a Wi-Fi capability of at least 802.11ac – and Bluetooth – if you want the best functionality possible from your television set.
Dual-band Wi-Fi is even better, as it can cut through the interference on the commonly-overpopulated 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band.