What to look for in a new TV… Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart TV
Most TVs sold today are considered smart TVs, also called connected TVs. Smart TVs represent the convergence of computers and entertainment with integrated internet and an array of free and paid apps. in this article, we will discuss about Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart TV.
This buying guide will help you determine what smart TV to buy based on your needs, budget, and preferences.
TV buying guide quick tips
If you’re in a hurry, here are the most important things to consider before you buy a television. We explain each of these points in greater detail in our TV buying guide below:
- Don’t buy a TV with less than 4K resolution. Avoid full HD or 1080p sets, unless you’re looking for a second (or third) TV. And even then, think if you can stretch your budget to 4K.
- You can skip 8K TVs (for now). 8K TVs are super expensive, and 8K movies and shows aren’t available yet.
- Expect to pay about $500 for a good budget 55-inch 4K TV. And at least $900 for a 65-inch model. Models with a better picture, upgraded speakers and next-gen features will cost more.
- Look for 60 Hz or 120 Hz refresh rate: When it comes to refresh rates, 60 Hz is good, but 120 Hz is better. A higher refresh rate provides smoother motion for everything from movies and shows, to live sports and gaming.
- Look for an HDR-compatible set: This offers more realistic colors and better contrast. Preferably consider a TV that supports the more advanced formats, namely HDR10+ or Dolby Vision. Some will support both.
- OLED TVs look much better than most LCD sets: But QLED TVs from Samsung, Vizio and TCL are an affordable middle ground.
- Look for at least four HDMI ports. And opt for the newer HDMI 2.1 format if you can.
- Plan to buy a soundbar. TV speakers are worse nowadays because the screens are thinner.
- Avoid extended warranties. Your credit card company may already provide purchase protection
What Is a Smart TV?
A smart TV incorporates an operating system, allowing users to access streaming content without plugging in an external device. Smart TVs are popular with people who enjoy watching the latest shows on Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms.
You can access, manage, and view online and network-based content with a smart TV. Almost all TVs sold today are considered smart TVs, and many manufacturers, including LG, Vizio, and Samsung, sell smart TVs.
Top 7 Things to Consider When Buying a Smart TV
Before deciding on a smart TV, there are seven key factors to consider when shopping:
- Refresh rates
How Much Should a Smart TV Cost?
No matter your budget, you should be able to find a smart TV you can afford. However, a higher budget will bring you additional features, bigger sizes, and higher resolutions. Here is the first Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart TV
There is no need to pay a massive amount these days. You can get a 4K and UHD screen for a fairly good price. You can wait for sales, or you can simply buy from a lesser known brand. The quality of modern TVs is so good that it is difficult to get it wrong. The only thing wrong you can do is overpay for an inferior TV.
It may be worth it to invest in a higher-priced smart TV to future-proof your investment, but if you need something affordable right now, you’ll still be able to find a quality device.
Prices vary widely between manufacturers and models. Below are some general smart TV pricing guidelines, but you may find different sizes and higher resolutions for your price point if you shop around.
|Price Range||What You Can Expect|
|>$300||Size: 24 to 43 inches (If you find a larger one at this price point, it may lack quality.)
Resolution: 1080p, HD resolution, or low-level upscaling.
Note: Be on the lookout for discounted mid-range PCs at this price point.
|>$600||Size: 42 to 55 inches.
Resolution: Up to 4K HDR.
Note: While these sets may support 4K HDR, they may not offer the supporting technology, including panels, lighting systems, and processors, that can truly make the most of it.
|>$1,000||Size: 42 to 65 inches (quality may vary).
Resolution: Up to 4K HDR
Note: At this price, you’ll find good LCD TVs at various sizes with decent image quality. You may also find QLED models and lower-end OLED TVs.
|>$2,000||Size: 48 inches, 55 inches, and higher (quality may vary).
Resolution: 4K HDR.
Note: At this price, you’ll see enhanced picture quality that really shows off HDR source material.
|>$5,000||Size: Up to 75 inches or higher.
Resolution: Up to 8K.
Note: At this price, you’ll encounter floating glass displays, built-in audio arrays, and overall higher-quality materials.
What Size Should My Smart TV Be?
Size and resolution have a significant effect on a TV’s price tag, so it’s essential to carefully consider the size you want when buying a new smart TV. This also needs to be the Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart TV
To determine the best smart TV size, measure the room’s dimensions where you’ll place the TV, and then decide which display size provides the viewing experience you want without overpowering the room.
Smart TVs come in an array of sizes that varies by manufacturer. The most common sizes are 42 inches, 50 inches, 55 inches, 65 inches, and 75 inches (measured diagonally). Anything over 65 inches moves you into a much higher-priced category. There’s also an extremely high-end market that caters to those who want 80-inch or 85-inch smart TVs.
Even if you’ve measured your TV room, you might find it difficult to picture exactly how your smart TV will fit. You’re not alone. Samsung, Sony, LG, and TCL have augmented reality apps that allow customers to view how a TV will look in a room. Best Buy also offers an AR viewer so you can check how your new equipment will fit.
What Resolution Should a Smart TV Have?
Most TVs come in three resolutions: 1080p, 4K, and 8K. Resolution needs to be Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart TV
We recommend getting a 4K resolution TV for the best overall usage. 1080p resolution TVs are fine, but they’re outdated by today’s standards, and you no longer pay any price penalty for getting the higher resolution.
8K resolution TVs are now where 4K TVs used to be: High-end with a high price tag. It’s probably not worth the investment just yet as the prices are high, and there’s not a lot of content (TV shows or movies) in high enough resolutions to see any difference in picture quality.
4K, also known as Ultra HD, is an excellent middle ground as it’s a high-quality resolution with many affordable options available. Plus, many streaming services and apps offer 4K content, so you can take full advantage of what they offer.
That doesn’t mean it’s better than those 4K flagships, of course, so it’s always worth reading our reviews to aid your buying decision.
Bottom Line: You can leave the pricey 8K TVs to the early adopters. Until content is available, you’ll just wind up paying a lot of money for upscaled 4K video.
Should a Smart TV Have HDR Support?
If you are getting a Smart TV, then it probably has HDR. This is kind-of good because if a TV show or movie optimizes it correctly, then it can make images “Pop” more on the screen. However, if the content is not optimized, or a setting is incorrect, then it looks terrible. This is even more true when gaming because not only can it affect the game as a whole, but it can also affect your recording and streaming.
HDR is a relatively new feature of 4K Ultra HD sets and it stands for high dynamic range, a reference to its ability to deliver more colors, more contrast levels and increased brightness. HDR is essentially an upgrade of the 4K, or Ultra HD, format (it is not applicable to 1080p HD sets). For this new feature, TV makers are christening new monikers for the sets to distinguish them from standard 4K Ultra HD TVs.
Most of the best smart TVs will come with a picture-improving technology called HDR (high dynamic range).
HDR brings out a high level of detail in the darkest and lightest parts of a picture and improves the range of colors. You may encounter various HDR formats like HDR10, Dolby Vision, HDR 10+, and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), but as long as the display has some HDR support, you’re good to go. Differences between the formats are minimal.
The basic standard for high-dynamic range content is called HDR10, as set forth by the UHD Alliance, an industry trade group. Dozens of companies are supporting this basic minimum specification for HDR compatibility, so you will see “HDR10” or “Ultra HD Premium” on compatible TVs. Every HDR TV will support HDR10 at the very least.
Dolby Vision is a more demanding version of HDR, created and licensed by the folks that brought us Dolby noise reduction and surround sound. It includes dynamic metadata that adjusts the HDR effect on a frame-by-frame basis, so the results are much more accurate and impressive. So far, Dolby Vision has led the industry in terms of proprietary HDR formats, and can be found on premium models from most brands (including LG, Sony, TCL and Vizio).
Samsung has introduced its own premium HDR format, called HDR10+, for all of its smart TVs. It works in a similar way to Dolby Vision, so offers a great viewing experience, but it’s far less common than Dolby Vision.
In terms of content, Dolby Vision has much more content out there that you can take advantage of if your TV supports it. Netflix offers a wide range of Dolby Vision content, while Amazon Prime Video’s offering of HDR10+ content is smaller, but growing slowly.
Similarly, Dolby Vision is more widely supported on UHD Blu-rays at the moment but there are more HDR10+ UHD Blu-rays becoming available.
Ultimately, have a think where you are most likely to watch content and ensure your TV of choice supports that format – and your Blu-ray player too. Some support both formats to really future-proof you, but do check first.
Finally, cable and satellite have their own form of HDR, called Hybrid-Log Gamma (HLG), so you should start seeing HDR pop up now and then for movies and even live TV.
Bottom Line: If you’re buying a 4K TV, you’ll want to get a TV with HDR support to make the most of its picture. If you want the best, buy an HDR set that is compatible with Dolby Vision. That is the format that offers the most content right now.
What Refresh Rate Should a Smart TV Have?
Smart TV displays offer 60Hz or 120Hz refresh rates. This measurement refers to how many times the image resets per second. The more times it refreshes, the sharper the image stays, and the less motion blur you’ll experience.
A high refresh rate is excellent when watching sports, but be careful when watching movies at higher refresh rates. Films displayed that way can take on a look that does not mimic what you’d see in the movie theater.
You’ll likely keep the refresh rate set to 60Hz for most content, even on a higher-end TV.
The refresh rate, expressed in Hertz (Hz) describes how many times per second a picture is refreshed on the screen. The standard refresh rate is 60 times per second, or 60 Hz. However, in scenes with rapidly moving objects, a 60 Hz refresh rate can make things look blurry or jittery, particularly on LCD HDTVs. So, to create a more solid picture, manufacturers doubled the refresh rate to 120 Hz (and in some cases up to 240 Hz).
Some new models are boasting High-Frame Rate (HFR) support, which means that they have both a higher refresh rate and added support for content with higher than 60 Hz frame rates. With HFR content set to come from both movies and live broadcasts, and HFR will be especially good for live sports, so it’s definitely a feature to watch out for.
Gamers will be especially keen to get higher refresh rates, and those with PS5, Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S who have games with 120 Hz support should look for a TV that can make the most of that. For older gaming consoles, 60 Hz is the sweet spot. Take a look at our best 4K gaming TVs for the pick of our favourites.
A word of caution: beware of terms like “effective refresh rate,” which means the actual frame rate is half the stated rate (e.g., a “120 Hz effective refresh rate” is actually a 60 Hz refresh rate). Everything else is done with video processing, not a refresh of the screen. Check our article ‘This is the biggest lie told to TV shoppers — and how to see through it’ for a closer look at misleading frame rate specs.
Bottom line: Most TV shoppers shouldn’t buy a TV with less than a 120 Hz refresh rate for the smoothest picture.
What Integrations Should a Smart TV Support?
One of the most compelling features of a smart TV is its ability to integrate with other smart devices in your home and utilize voice commands. For example, Android TVs from Sony have Google Chromecast and Google Assistant built-in. Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart TV. So, if you have a smart home with many Google devices, an Android TV would allow you to control your devices via the TV.
If you have Amazon Alexa-enabled devices throughout your home, such as Echo Shows or Echo Dots, buying a smart TV that integrates Alexa makes sense.
Consider your home, your other devices, and preferences when deciding if you should buy a smart TV that integrates with a particular platform.
What Apps Should a Smart TV Offer?
This is a strange one because there are some TVs that are loaded with apps right out of the factory. There are others that have software installed when they get to a certain country. Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart TV, There are some that have apps and allows you to add more, and some that have very basic apps and then allow you to search online for different apps to download.
A smart TV’s primary purpose is to entertain, and your entertainment preferences will be a significant consideration when choosing a smart TV. Services like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime are widely available across many platforms, but not all smart TVs will support all apps.
All smart TVs will have some apps preinstalled, and most will have app stores where you can select and download additional apps. For example, Samsung smart TVs let you access the Samsung App Store, and LG TVs can access the LG Content Store. On the other hand, Vizio smart TVs have all their apps preinstalled. It adds new apps via updates, but you’d have to cast or screen mirror content from unsupported apps.
Check any smart TV you’re considering purchasing for its installed and available apps to ensure your favorites are onboard. Or, consider a device like a Roku stick to help supplement accessible apps.
Who Should Buy a Smart TV?
Anyone buying a TV these days should consider a smart TV. While standard TVs may be less expensive, smart TVs are more affordable than ever and give you more bang for your buck. You may even have trouble finding a 4K TV that doesn’t have “smart” features.
Better picture quality and expanded features, internet connectivity, apps, smart home integrations, and more make smart TVs a consideration for anyone looking for a new TV.
What Should I Do After Buying a Smart TV?
Bringing home and setting up your smart TV isn’t as easy as plugging in a standard TV, but it’s still straightforward.
- Select the perfect spot for your new smart TV while considering power outlets and access to a strong WI-Fi signal or how to connect the TV over Ethernet.
- Add an antenna or cable connection, if needed.
- You’ll need to set up an account for controlling and managing apps, features, and upgrades. During initial setup, familiarize yourself with how to find, select, and install apps and work with your model’s settings.
- Most smart TVs have accompanying mobile appsYou’ll likely need to download your smart TV’s companion app at some point during or after setup.
- Choose and organize available apps, set up a content library, and choose programs you’d like to record. You may also need to log in to your streaming accounts.
- You may also need to set up additional devices, such as game consoles, media players, etc.
- When you’ve set up the basics, fine-tune your experience by adjusting the color, brightness, and menu appearance, and explore your smart TV’s unique features.
More Tips for Buying a Smart TV
There’s no real “best” smart TV to buy because it’s all about what you want and your personal preferences. Keep the following in mind:
- Make sure you know where you want to put the TV and that you have access to power, cable connections, and more.
- Beware of fireplaces and other heat sources that could damage your components.
- If you’re wall mounting your smart TV, consider going up a screen size since the TV will be flat against a wall and farther away from your seating area.
- Check if a TV supports your favorite streaming services before purchasing.
- Make a note of anything you might need to connect to the TV. Despite smart TVs being able to stream myriad content, they won’t have a DVD or Blu-ray drive installed. Ensure the TV has enough HDMI ports if you want to attach anything to the TV.
- Pay attention to your smart TV’s sound quality and determine if you need a soundbar or another speaker.
- If you’re looking at smart TVs in a showroom, note how bright the screen appears in a brightly lit room.
- Monitor your potential smart TV for seasonal sales (such as Black Friday) and price fluctuations to get the best price.
How do I download apps on a Samsung smart TV?
To add an app that isn’t already on your Samsung smart TV Smart Hub, navigate to the home page or press the remote’s Smart Hub button. Select Apps > find and select app, then select Install, Download, or Add to Home.
How do I get HBO Max on an LG smart TV?
On the remote control of your LG smart TV, press the Home button and select LG Content Store. Go to Apps > search for, then select HBO Max > Install > Launch. You’ll need to enter your account details or set up an HBO Max subscription.
How do I add apps to a Vizio smart TV?
Add apps to your Vizio Smart TV depending on whether it’s running the SmartCast, Vizio Internet Apps (VIA), or Vizio Internet Apps Plus (VIA+) system. For example, on VIA systems, press OK and go to Install App. On VIA+ systems, press and hold OK until the app is added to the My Apps list.