Make the right call

LG 84-Inch Ultra High Definition TV 84LM960V

Heading into your local electrical retailer looking for a new television can be quite a daunting task. Not only are there an array of different sizes, screen types, and interactivity options, but you’ll likely have to deal with a line of giant televisions blaring the most recent Iggy Azalea hit at you while you try to decide which screen she looks best on.

There are plenty of factors to consider. No longer is your decision based almost solely on the size of the screen you want, or how slim a model you can get. You can now decide what sort of viewing experience you’re looking for, and factor that into your decision.

Alphabet soup

Few people know their LCDs from their LEDs and 4K UHDs off hand, which can make the array of similar sounding options on the market intimidating to say the least.

While LCDs, with their CCFL lamps, were once king, increasingly you can expect the higher quality, more energy efficient LED displays even on cheaper choices. “It’s all LED now, it’s really the bare minimum,” says Cathal McGee, Audio Visual Product and Market Manager for Harvey Norman Ireland. “After that you’re going into OLED, UHD [Ultra High Definition], and then 4K. You’re well up the chain there.”

OLED televisions are a big step up, offering much better colour, higher contrast, on pencil-thin, flexible screens. While they are at the higher end of the market, moves have been made to make OLED technology more affordable for the mass market. The LG 55” 55EA980 OLED TV (€3,999) has almost halved in price since it was first introduced less than a year ago, while still offering some top of the range specifications.

Samsung’s recent announcement that November brings the end of production of plasma screens, coupled with Panasonic’s similar decision last year, has really marked the end for this type of display. This news won’t sit well with cinephiles, who appreciate the plasma screen’s ability to provide a superb picture with very strong colours, even in low-light conditions. LG are still in the market however, with their 50” 50PB560B Plasma TV (€629) an excellent choice for those still hoping to take advantage.

Curved, Smart Revolution

While models like the Sony 55” KD55X9005BBU 4K UHD TV (€2,999) not only provides ultra high definition 4K technology, it also boasts a triluminos display and magnetic fluid speakers, which provide immersive sound. This is key, as very slimline models can let you down on sound quality because of space restrictions, says McGee: “If you have a TV six or seven years, that has a chassis, a scart and a frame, the sound quality will be better from your older TV probably, than your new TV. There’s a very large market for adding sound to your TV because of this.”

Even despite these huge developments, however, most people are more concerned with their TV’s aesthetics, as there’s little need to worry about the picture when HD quality comes almost as standard. Enter, the curved TV.

Curving inwards on both sides slightly, the idea with these is that the having the pixel equidistant from your eyes gives you a much better and more satisfying picture. Samsung’s 55” UE55H8000STXXU 3D Smart Curved TV (€2,019) is a great example of the best of both worlds, as it offers a super modern, and super slick look in the curved screen, without compromising on the technology.

In addition to having a full HD display, it has also got 3D functionality for recreating the 3D movie experience at home, and it’s a Smart TV. Whether you want to stream Netflix on a bigger screen than your laptop’s, or just quickly check your Twitter, having a Smart TV can prove incredibly handy, and should be a baseline requirement for anyone serious about TVs, says McGee.

“If you’re giving the market serious consideration, you should be talking Smart. The Smart TV revolution is really starting they’ve got internet access, social media, and as you pay a little bit more, you get far more sophisticated interfaces, easier ways of viewing.” LG’s 32” 32LB580V LED Smart TV (€479) is a great entry-level option, for someone looking for Smart functionality with a less hefty price tag.

Go big or go home

The great debate rages on over how big is too big for a television screen. LG certainly aren’t listening, with their groundbreaking, massive LG 84” 84LM960V 4K UHD TV (€17,999) hitting the market this year. Coming with all the 4K, 3D, Smart TV bells and whistles, it really is top of the range.

However few living rooms will realistically accommodate a screen so large. It can be hard to tell how big a screen will look in your home in the context of a large showroom. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the size of the screen by three, and make sure you can sit that far away. You want the TV to fill your full line of vision, but be small enough that the picture remains sharp and clear.

In the past, you would have had to go for a smaller screen, but by design now you can go much bigger. McGee explains, “If you think back to years ago, TVs had a bevel edge or frame around the screen, of about two to three inches. You’re now able to have a much bigger sized screen. 42 inch is the biggest segment now, but the biggest growing segment is larger, because people are buying bigger screens, 47 inch and 55 inch are the biggest growth areas.”

At this size, Samsung’s 55” UE55F8000STXXU Smart LED TV (€1,699) is the perfect option for a home entertainment system, with smart and 3D functionality, as well as a crystal clear picture, with Samsung’s Wide Colour Enhancer Technology. Sony’s 42” KDL42W706BSU LED Smart TV is a great option for those catering for smaller rooms, without compromising on smart technology.

As the technology is developing so quickly in television, you’re certainly getting more bang for your buck today. While at the top of the range, you’re looking at more functions than you’ll likely ever find use for, you’re also getting superb quality picture, on much larger screens than would have been possible for that quality level before.

However, you can expect to get a very high spec TV for a very reasonable price, considering how new most of this technology still is. McGee sums up the market, saying: “What’s happening there is the newer technologies are coming in and pressing down on the market. What people would have aspired to a year or two ago in TV, they can now get for a much lower price. There’s a whole mid-market of very, very highly spec TVs to look at.”

Originally published in the Sunday Business Post Connected Magazine on September 7th 2014.

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