Last month we took a look at what the coming year holds for the tech industry from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. One industry that showed plenty of innovation and forthcoming iteration was television development.
If you’ve recently browsed the television section of your local electronics store, you may have noticed that new television screens seem to be bigger, the picture seems brighter and the information sticker on the side is filled with more acronyms than a medical textbook.
For those of you thinking of picking up a new television sometime this year, those acronyms may seem like jargon, but they are actually rather important and can make a big difference in the price and quality of your fancy new television set.
I’ve compiled a short list of the most common terms you’re likely to come across and given a brief explanation as to what they mean to help you make an informed purchasing decision. Listed below are a few of the most common terms and features that you’ll see on information sheets when buying a new television.
OLED and LED
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode and is quite different to your standard LED LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). OLED TV’s produce deeper blacks and brighter colours that many people claim makes a noticeable difference in picture quality. OLED TV’s are currently quite expensive, however hopefully by the end of the year we will see a price reduction.
HD and UHD
HD (High Definition) display means the device is capable of outputting 1080 or 720 images. These numbers refer to the amount of pixels on the screen: the higher the number, the clearer the image. UHD (Ultra HD) outputs 4k, which contains roughly four times as many pixels as an HD display. TV channels currently don’t broadcast much UHD content (this will be coming in the future), however you can now buy special UHD DVD’s and a number of streaming services offer UHD streaming for an additional fee. If you do choose to purchase a 4K TV and hope to watch 4K streams on Netflix, carefully watch your internet datacap, as 4K streams take up far more data than a regular stream.
Not to be confused with High Definition, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is a function of modern televisions that produces deeper blacks and brighter colours, similar to an OLED display (as mentioned earlier). Content creators need to enable HDR functionality in their movies, TV shows or video games, however there’s more and more HDR-capable media hitting store shelves and streaming services every day.
A Smart TV is basically a television with a built-in computer that can run apps and connect to the internet to perform various functions. Smart TV’s have risen in popularity over the years as services like Netflix and Hulu become more commonplace. From my experience, controlling the Smart TV interface is often frustratingly slow and unresponsive, so if Smart TV functionality is a deciding factor for you, consider buying a Roku box, Apple TV or a game console instead – they all offer the same functionality with a much better user experience.
Curved TV’s are somewhat commonplace and are designed to create a more cinematic experience by enveloping the user’s viewing angle. However in my experience, the curved angle doesn’t make much of a difference when compared to a regular TV and can actually hinder the viewing experience for anyone not sitting directly in front of the screen. Aesthetically though, they are quite fascinating to look at.
3D functionality has all but died off at this point. It was a hot tech trend a few years ago that faded in popularity after users grew tired of the gimmick. You can still buy 3D DVD’s and some new TV’s do offer 3D functionality, however I would highly advise trying it out for an extended period of time if 3D functionality is a deciding factor for you, as I found the experience to be distracting and uncomfortable after a while. Also, those home 3D glasses are expensive!