Buying guide TV 2021: Anyone who wants to buy a new television will easily get lost in the enormous range. Plus, you don’t buy a new TV every year, and technology changes very quickly. This means that you often struggle to give all those new terms a place in your decision-making process. We’ll get you started with this guide to buying a TV.
Buying guide TV 2021 – Determine your budget
Still one of the most important decisions you make: what is the budget? Decide in advance a certain amount that you want to use as a guideline. Give yourself some space to go above that, but also put a specific maximum first. This way you avoid landing step by step on a much higher budget than you had planned.
As with many other things, the price of a device is partly determined by the performance and features you want. The higher your budget, the better the performance, the more features you will find.
Buy TV? To set priorities
Unless your budget is unlimited, you will eventually have to weigh certain things against each other. That is why it is important that you set priorities. This way you arrive well prepared at the store.
Only you can decide what matters most to you. We use the list below to tick off priorities in order:
- Necessary features: The things that your TV absolutely must have should of course be your first priority. For example, if you absolutely want HDMI 2.1 with the necessary gaming features because you have a next-gen console in mind, then that should not be missing.
- Image quality: the top feature of a TV, because image is what it’s all about. Image quality can rarely be improved after purchase, so it is better not to save on that.
- Screen size: this is an important choice, but we would rather opt for a better, but slightly smaller image than for a larger but less good image. Keep in mind: the larger the image, the more important image quality is, because you will see every error much more clearly.
- Ease of use: recent TVs are quite user-friendly, but you may have certain preferences.
- Sound quality: Certainly very important, but we set it a little lower because you can compensate for a defect in this category with an external solution such as a soundbar.
- Non-necessary features: these are nice extras but should never determine your choice. A good example is support for voice assistant x or y.
Buying guide TV 2021 – How and for what do you use your TV?
In order to be able to complete the above list properly, it is important that you form a good idea of the use of your television. After all, this is the most important factor influencing your choice when buying a new TV, in addition to the budget. So ask yourself the following questions in advance:
- How far are you from the television?
- Do you want a more relaxed viewing experience, or do you want to get as close as possible to the cinema experience?
- Is there a lot of viewing during the day, and often in a lot of ambient light? Or do you rather look in a cozy, slightly darkened environment with only some atmospheric light?
- Do you watch alone or with two, or often with more? Are the seats all right in front of the television or are there also seats that are more likely to be next to the television, such as in an L-shaped lounge?
- What do you mainly watch? Sport? Film and TV series? Talk shows and news?
- Do you also play regularly? Via a game console or PC?
- Which devices do you want to connect? Which HDMI version is required for that? Which HDMI features?
- Which smart features are indispensable for you? Which apps do you definitely want to use?
- Do you have specific requirements for the setup, such as wall mounting.
Screen size: big or small?
Televisions are getting bigger, but bigger is not just better! Which screen format you choose when you buy a new TV depends on two important factors: the viewing distance (how far you are from the TV) and whether you are looking for an intense viewing experience or a more relaxed viewing experience. In our articles about optimal viewing distance from the TV and the ideal viewing distance and screen size you will find everything about it. Keep in mind that these are guidelines, not hard rules. And don’t forget the aesthetics in the living room.
Buying guide TV 2021 – Know your viewing food
Which aspects of image quality are important to you is largely determined by what you watch.
If you mainly watch film and TV series, then you are looking for a television with excellent contrast and ample support for High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR10 and HLG can be found on almost all TVs, but Dolby Vision and HDR10 + often force you to make a choice. Read all about the different HDR formats. A spacious color gamut and high brightness are important for good HDR display.
If you are a sports fan, then you definitely want a model with a 100Hz panel to display your action images clearly. Good options for motion sharpness are therefore important. HDR broadcasts take a long time, but since they will probably be in HLG, and all TVs support this, you do not have to worry about that. Sport would also benefit greatly High Frame Rate (HFR) content, but that also seems like HDR for the time being.
Gamers also have specific requirements for their television. A low input lag is required, otherwise you will inevitably react too late to what is happening on the screen. Gamers who want to get the most out of a PS5 or Xbox Series X want one HDMI 2.1 connection, with ALLM and VRR and support for HFR 4K120. They are also looking forward to good HDR support, especially HDR10 and recently Dolby Vision. The best HDR display for gaming is guaranteed by HGiG support.
The bar is relatively low for talk shows and news. Both sports and film fans can aim for a larger screen, which enhances the experience. Gamers want a good overview, so they should not choose their screen too large. For fans of talk shows and soap operas, a relaxed viewing experience is paramount, so they better choose a screen size on the small side of the spectrum.
Screen technology and picture quality
The best represented screen technology is LCD. LCD TVs are available in the widest selection of picture formats. Because LCD TVs use many different ancillary technology, the price also varies widely. That also often causes confusion. For example, an LED TV is an LCD TV that uses LEDs as a light source. Incidentally, this is currently the case for all LCD TVs and is therefore no longer a special feature at all. QLEDTVs use quantum dots in the light source, but otherwise also just LCD TVs.
If you want to buy an LCD TV, pay attention to the following:
- Models with an IPS panel have a fairly wide viewing angle and are therefore ideal if not everyone can sit right in front of the screen. They do have a lower contrast, which makes them at their best when you look at some ambient light.
- Models with a VA panel have a good contrast, and are therefore best in minimal ambient light. Unfortunately, they often have a very limited viewing angle. If you look from an angle, the contrast will drop sharply.
- The light source of an LCD TV, the correct term is backlight, plays a big role in contrast performance. In this article you will find everything about the different types backlight and their benefits. The short summary: Edge LED models are slim, but Full Array models with local dimming improve the contrast considerably.
- Because the number of zones in a Full Array backlight is so important to contrast performance, recent models are looking to Mini-LED technology. The background lighting is made up of thousands of small LEDs and the number of dimming zones can be greatly increased.
- The maximum brightness of LCD TVs is high, and they can often maintain that across the entire screen, and not just a small portion of the screen. That is a big advantage if you watch HDR in a lot of ambient light. Keep in mind that the maximum brightness is directly linked to the price.
- A backlight with quantum dots guarantees a very spacious color gamut.
In addition to LCD TVs, there is of course also OLED. This screen technology is very different from LCD. On an OLED screen, each pixel creates its own light, and can also be switched off completely. As a result, OLED offers an almost perfect contrast. The screens also have a wide color range and wide viewing angle. OLED screens are only available in larger screen sizes (55 ”and larger), but since 2020 there is also a 48” model. OLED offers a wide range of brightness, but should let the top LCD TVs go ahead in this area. In addition, OLED can only deploy its maximum brightness in small areas of the screen. An OLED TV is at its best with some darkening.
Buying guide TV 2021 – Smart TV
We can debate for a long time about the merits of the various smart TV systems. But in the end we find that they have all reached a good degree of maturity. The ease of use is excellent at all, although we have a very slight preference for it LG WebOS and the Samsung Tizen Smart Hub. Google Android TV (available on Philips and Sony) has the advantage that you get a number of guaranteed updates, something that unfortunately is not the case with any other manufacturer. Panasonic My Home Screen has good ease of use, but is currently missing important streaming apps such as Disney + and Apple TV +.
Choosing your TV based on a certain smart TV system is rather exceptional, but if certain apps are a must, then you should pay attention to that. Ease of use is in part also a matter of habit, so don’t be deterred from trying something new when you want to buy a new TV.
If you’ve already found image quality difficult to judge, then we’ve got some bad news for you. Comparing sound quality of TVs in the store is next to impossible. On the other hand, the sound quality of televisions has improved considerably in recent years. You can expect decent sound from middle class, unless you really want the movie soundtrack to blast through the room. High-end models can often even realize that without having to resort to an external solution.
What do you pay attention to when you want to buy a new television? Most televisions have the speakers built in at the bottom. Models with additional speakers on the side and / or top of the unit provide a slightly better surround experience. Dolby Atmos support is best on your list if you’re a real movie fan, even if you’re considering a separate soundbar later.
You can boost the sound quality by switching from the built-in speakers to an external solution, such as a soundbar or an AV receiver. If you want to keep that option open, and insure your options for the future as well as possible, choose a TV that has it HDMI eARC disposes. HDMI ARC, the predecessor of eARC, remains an alternative, but be aware of its limitations.
Finally, some TVs are designed so that the screen is barely 1-2 cm above the furniture. A soundbar is often 6 cm high, or more. With such a television, it would cover a small part of the image. If you have a soundbar in mind, keep that in mind.
Buying guide TV 2021 – What do you want to connect?
Where there used to be several types of connections almost everything is now done via HDMI. Before you buy a TV, check how many connections you definitely need. But you still have to stay focused here too. After all, there are several HDMI versions, and they offer various possibilities. Especially for the latest version, HDMI 2.1, it is important that you know which features you absolutely must have. Be sure to read our article explaining it all HDMI 2.1 features.
Also keep an eye out for things like AirPlay2, Google Cast, and Bluetooth (both to bring audio from the TV to wireless headphones, and to hear the music from your smartphone on TV).