Understanding the basics
Any large retailer is likely to stock dozens of different televisions, but once you grasp the basics, making a choice isn’t hard at all.
From 19-inch sets that will fit in the kitchen to 75-inch models that can do double-duty as billboards, there’s a TV that will fit your room, no matter how big or small it is. Here’s a trick that will make it easy to pick a TV that's the right size for any room:
Simply measure the distance in inches from where you plan to sit to where the TV will be located. Divide this distance by 1.5. This number represents the largest TV you should buy. To determine the smallest TV that’s comfortable to watch, divide the distance to the TV by 3. Any size in between will work.
There are two major technologies to choose from:
- LED uses brighter, smaller LED bulbs to light up the picture. LEDs cost a bit more, but are sharper, much thinner and offer great color.
- Plasmas use a different technology that makes them heavier and thicker, but they’re less expensive and many feel they have the deepest blacks and best contrast.
All flat-panel TVs can play high-definition content, but you’ll want to check which HD specification they support. 1080p is currently the best widely supported standard. TVs that support 720p and 1080i resolution will still look good, but not the best. Pay attention to the overall image quality as well. Samsung’s Clear Motion Rate system, a measure of motion clarity, makes action-heavy programming like sports and movies look great on LED televisions. The higher the CMR, the higher the motion clarity.
If you don't plan on connecting your A/V system to external speakers, check the audio quality on the TV’s built-in speakers. These may not rival a home theater system, but for smaller rooms they’re typically fine. If you need to, you can easily add a sound bar that fits the aesthetics of the TV and enhances sound.
Inputs and online connectivity
The more advanced the TV, the more inputs you can expect to find. Top models feature HDMI ports, component video and composite video. If you want to watch video stored on an external hard drive, check for USB ports. To connect to the Internet, you’ll want Wi-Fi and/or an Ethernet port. Take a quick inventory of the outputs on your home electronics devices and make sure your new TV will be compatible with them.
Other details to consider
Once you’ve settled on the size and type of TV you need or you want, it’s time to think beyond the basics.
Many TVs are so thin that only a narrow bezel separates the picture from the wall behind it. For sets that are freestanding (like on a tabletop), the bezel and stand design becomes more important. Be sure they match the decor of your room.
Modern TVs aren’t limited to what your cable box or Blu-ray player can offer. Many sets like Samsung’s Smart TV models can connect directly to the Internet, letting you browse the Web or run apps directly through the set, including streaming movies from Hulu Plus or Netflix and even launching Skype video chats (with an add-on camera).
With a compatible TV and 3D video content, all you need is a pair of special 3D glasses to get a cinematic experience that jumps out of the set.
More questions to ask
You may need to dig even deeper as you decide on your purchase. Here are some additional questions to ask yourself or a salesperson while shopping.
- Does the TV compensate for ambient light levels, getting brighter when the room is brightly lit?
- Can the TV connect to computers and smartphones directly? TVs equipped with Samsung’s AllShare technology handle that chore with ease.
- Is a standard remote control the only navigation option, or can I use physical gestures to control my TV, as you can with Samsung’s Gesture Control system?
- Can the TV be upgraded without replacing the entire unit, as with Samsung's Evolution Kit?
Key points to remember
Need a quick tutorial? Clip this section and take it with you when you’re shopping for a television.
- Get a rough idea of your ideal TV size by measuring your room before you go shopping.
- LED TVs are brighter and thinner, while plasma TVs are more affordable.
- Even if you don’t need 3D today, maybe you’ll want it in the future.
- Don’t just look at the TV you want; listen to it, too.
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