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Gadgets - Nov 14, 2017

Foolproof 4K TV buying tips

Before stepping into a showroom, acquaint yourself with important features and options to help with your purchasing decision

Buying a new TV anytime soon? Chances are, you’ll probably want one of the latest 4K Ultra HD offerings. With up to four times the resolution of a conventional high-definition television – that’s more than eight million pixels compared with roughly two million – the result is a jaw-droppingly clear and realistic picture. To help you choose one that’s right for you and your family, keep these handy tips within reach when you’re ready to start shopping.

1. Screen size

Experts say that unless you’re restricted by a tight space or a confined TV cabinet, you’re probably safe getting the biggest TV your budget will allow, but when it comes to screen size, be sure to factor in the distance you’ll be sitting from the set. For a conventional high-definition television (HDTV), a general rule of thumb is to sit at a distance roughly twice the length of the television screen, measured diagonally. But with 4K TVs, you can comfortably sit much closer, as you won’t see much pixilation by being too near to the screen. The optimal distance from a 60-inch model is about eight feet; from a 45-inch model, six feet, etc.

2. LED vs. OLED vs. QLED

Most 4K TV screens have backlighting technology courtesy of LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which results in better contrast, richer colour and crisper clarity than the fluorescent-tube-based LCD TVs. However, those built with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panels offer even better quality, greater energy efficiency and a thinner frame, as each pixel is its own light source. Meanwhile, Samsung has gone all-in on TVs powered by “quantum dot” technology, which feature tiny “nano” crystals. These QLED models can produce a better-looking picture and a more true-to-life colour palette – especially when it comes to reds, greens and cyans. They’re also generally less expensive than OLED TVs.

3. High dynamic range (HDR)

If you want a wider range of brightness levels, colours and contrast for a picture that's truer to how the content producers intended it, look for a 4K TV that supports HDR, or high dynamic range. You'll notice the difference.

4. Refresh rate

Refresh rate refers to how well a TV handles fast motion: the higher the number – such as 240 Hz – the smoother the action will be. Compare for yourself by watching different kinds of on-screen content at the store before buying. Seeing is believing.

5. Smart choices

If your new purchase is a smart TV, it’ll offer a wide range of baked-in services for everything from Netflix and YouTube to weather reports and games. To get the most out of it, make sure you have a reliable wired or Wi-Fi internet connection. Some televisions will have a branded smart TV platform – such as Roku, Android TV and Chromecast – and some support voice commands for a more intuitive user interface. And many new Bluetooth-enabled smart TVs will work with wireless headsets for private listening.

6. Sound quality

Chances are you don’t have a full-on 7.1 surround-sound system just waiting for your new 4K set, but before you break the bank on such an investment, consider buying a sound bar instead. They’re typically more affordable, can be easily mounted or placed just below or above your television set, and can deliver much fuller sound than what your TV can produce by itself.