You’re considering buying a new television, and you have no idea what exactly to look for? Well, you’re not alone. While just about any TV looks great in the store, whether or not it fits perfectly with your home theater and/or living room environment is another story. How do you know what to look for? What are some of the important features to think about when choosing a new HDTV?
The features listed below assume that you’ve already chosen which screen technology you prefer. LED-LCD, traditional LCD, plasma, projection, DLP, or laser — these technologies each have their own pros and cons that need to be weighed prior to heading out and deciding exactly which set you should choose within that criteria. Once you’ve decided on a base technology, here are five things to look for in an HDTV:
The size of your screen is an important part of your overall buying decision. Buying a screen that’s too large for your living room can cause issues with how you perceive the images, and result in eye strain and a perceived image distortion as you look away form the center of the screen. Buying a screen too small can also strain the eyes as you attempt to focus on small objects within the image. Otherwise, you might find yourself having to move your seating closer to the television to really see the image the way it is meant to be viewed.
While it might seem like you only need a couple HDMI and component connections on the back of your set, you may want to keep in mind the possibility of an increasing number of components in your home theater over the next few years. Game consoles, sound equipment, settop boxes, and other devices may enter your life and need space on the back of your television. You may also want to take into account the position of these ports, as some televisions offer ports on the side, back, and front so they’re available wherever you may need them to be. Watching video from a portable device is easier when you plug in from the front of the television, while ports at the back make unsightly cables easier to hide.
While it may appear that just about every television out there is equipped with a set of boring stereo speakers and nothing more, many of them are actually built with pretty substantial technology that can enhance the listener’s ability to pick out various sounds. Technologies like SRS Wow can really enhance your overall experience, but take time to see if these technologies actually work for you. Not everyone can benefit from SRS Wow, or other virtual surround sound technologies.
Some televisions come with the kind of technology cable companies use to link to their digital services built-in, saving you the hassle of having to keep a bulky cable box around. Some HDTVs even include network capability and built-in apps that allow you to stream content from services like Netflix and Hulu, making the TV itself act like its own settop box, in a sense.
While audio can be routed to different devices, connections can be split, and online services can be accessed through settop boxes, no quality of a television matters more than its picture quality. If you pick up a set that looks decent enough in a store, you might be surprised to discover that it doesn’t look so great at home. Do your research before dropping hundreds of dollars on a set. Find out how many options are available to fine tune the image to fit your living room’s lighting conditions and color preferences. Does the HDTV have a glossy screen, or a matte finish? Do you have a fair amount of back lighting in your living room that might produce a glare?
When it comes to deciding which HDTV suits your needs best, your decision should ultimately come down to what you feel most comfortable with. If a set appears like something you would need to get used to in the store, you’ll probably have even bigger issues with it when you get home.