Smart Tv Buying Guide 2019
We live in the age of intelligent devices: telephones, watches and, for some years now, even intelligent televisions. Along with Smart TVs and their connection to the Internet, we have been able to exploit an infinite number of applications on the now no longer so small screen. The digital age, on television, has done really well.
Until a few years ago, the choice of a new TV was not a problem. Today, however, the continuous technological advances that make new products obsolete in a few months mean that this choice becomes more and more complicated. Therefore it is useful to have some minimum technical knowledge.
A Smart TV is nothing more than a television that can connect to the Internet and is equipped with its own operating system. With it you can access a large amount of multimedia content and enjoy a wide variety of applications. A Smart TV can be considered a home entertainment centre.
When choosing the screen size of the smart TV you’re going to buy, you need to take into account the room size and viewing distance. In this respect, some manufacturers offer information tables to help you decide which screen sizes are right for you.
One of the first issues you have to deal with when buying a Smart TV is the most suitable panel technology. There are currently two trends. On the one hand, there is LCD (Liquid Cristal Display) technology with LED backlighting (Light-Emitting Diode) and, on the other hand, there is OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode).
What exactly is a Smart TV?
A Smart TV or intelligent television is a television that can connect to the Internet and is equipped with an operating system. With it you can access a large amount of multimedia content and enjoy a wide variety of applications. The first televisions marketed under this name appeared in 2010.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Smart TVs?
Smart TVs offer a number of important advantages that cannot be ignored. For a start, they allow you to connect to the Internet, with all that that implies. This way, you can access a wide variety of media, install applications, access social networks or play games.
However, there are not only advantages. Buying a Smart TV requires a major financial investment. Some devices work with operating systems that require frequent updates. You also need an Internet connection to get the most out of the performance these televisions offer.
Smart Tv Advantages Disadvantages
They allow you to access a large amount of multimedia content, as well as enjoy a multitude of applications and games. You can watch Youtube videos, access TV channels like Netflix or HBO or watch any content on your computer. It’s a major financial investment.
With them you can surf the Internet quickly and easily and access different social networks. Some operating systems require frequent updates. It can also happen that, after a few years, the manufacturer chooses to stop providing support.
You can transmit your mobile phone screen to your TV set. To get the most out of them, you need a good Internet connection.
You can access video calls and watch your favourite series on a much larger screen.
They also allow you to enjoy so-called on-demand television. You don’t have to worry about missing an episode from your favourite series with it.
Is it worth buying a Smart TV?
If you can afford it and your home usually uses television, the answer is definitely yes. The advantages it offers and the possibility of integrating most elements of home entertainment into the same device make the economic investment worthwhile. This is without forgetting the high image quality that these televisions offer.
“This is the Netflix-HBO era, that is, the era of intelligent televisions that allow you to choose the series you want, with programs of the highest quality and where television can be used to think.
What types of panel technology are there for Smart TVs?
When buying an intelligent TV, one of the first decisions to make is to choose between LCD technology with LED backlighting and OLED technology. In general, LCD panel televisions are cheaper and have a longer lifespan, while OLED televisions usually offer better picture quality.
LCD with OLED LED Backlight
Technology This is the longest-established technology on the market. Most of the televisions available on the market have been manufactured with LCD panels. It is the latest technology.
It uses a back up system at the back of the panel, so it is not possible to turn a pixel on or off individually. It does not use back-power systems at the rear. It allows each pixel to be switched on and off independently.
Contrast The level of contrast they offer is lower than that of OLED models. It offers a purer, more realistic black, resulting in better contrast and much brighter colors.
Ghosting May present what is known as the ghosting effect. No ghosting effect and no residual background lights. It allows you to enjoy a perfect image from any angle of view.
Possible problems Does not present the problem of the image “burned” in the background. You can use it to play video games or as a computer monitor. It has the problem of background image retention. Although it seems that the new models are quite resolving this defect. In any case, it’s not worth using them as computer monitors or to play with consoles.
Life cycle Its life cycle is much longer. It’s ideal if you keep your TV on for many hours a day. The life cycle of OLED-based TVs is rather shorter than those using LCD technology.
SMARTV HDR EXPLAINED
The HDR (High Dynamic Range) of a screen is the difference between the brightest and darkest areas. Without a doubt, it has been a fashionable word since the appearance of 4K resolution a few years ago, as it can make a considerable difference in realism and image quality.
In general, if you plan to buy a smart, low-end TV, you don’t have to worry about HDR. But if you opt for a mid-range or high-end device, you’ll need to make sure the screen is HDR-compatible. This will give you more contrast between the darker and more vibrant colours.
What is HDR? And what is it for?
HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range, is a technology developed a few years ago that focuses on image optimization. The human eye observes in QDH with a very high resolution, but the images that appear on a screen may not be the same thing. HDR, whether automatic or manual, makes no difference: where active, it presents the image with a greater contrast between dark and light colours. This may seem trivial, but for the purposes of correct vision the improvement is incredible, especially on the latest generation of screens. The ability of the HDR to adapt to situations and even be able to adjust contrasts automatically is as spectacular as you want, spanking above the standard image to which we are accustomed.
So, what is HDR? And what is the HDR for? Easy: The High Dynamic Range was developed to meet the needs of companies who wanted to create more and more high-performance televisions, and closer to what the human eye can create. Of course, this technology is best applied to large screens. HDR is at its best on a very large surface, as opposed to screens below 32 inches whose result would be imperceptible.
How does HDR work in everyday life?
Imagine a panel, of any size. Whatever technology it is, IPS, AMOLED or OLED, all the screens on the market have pixels and especially a backlight. The lighting of a screen allows the screen itself to make the images bright and sharp in every situation. But it happens that in some cases the brightness is not enough to return a perfect image, and here comes into play the HDR. The panel is able, through its inputs derived from the control board, to attenuate its light in the moments of external light of the images, and to intensify its light in moments of complete darkness. Where this is not enough, HDR comes into play.
Its ability to balance colors and make them saturated or dark when necessary, ensures that the images are always sharp and clear. The pixels of a screen, especially in the latest generation of panels, have the ability to turn off when they are illuminated by a black light, or when they have to show dark images, the same goes for the LEDs of the panel. Thanks to a technology called FALD, Full Array Local Dimming, it is possible to avoid that areas of halo or shadow can form in the screen, since each LED is individually controlled and can manage its own light in a uniform way.
The HDR standard, what it is and how it is calculated
Over time it has been necessary to classify the various screens that still installed the first model of automatic HDR, with those today much more up to date. For this reason, the HDR standard was born, which divides the screens between Ultra HD Premium and True HDR. In the first case we have the old generation screens, or however those who are not able to record a peak value of 1000 nits of maximum brightness, which has been placed as a figure in the middle of this ranking. We are talking about screens that still have a semi-simulated HDR, and that only manage in half to make the images sharp and clear to the end. True HDR certified screens, on the other hand, not only reach the limit we have just mentioned, but exceed it by different lengths, in most cases even two or three times. Here we talk about the latest generation of screens, with a real and constant HDR over time, and that is able, thanks to a fairly powerful processor, to improve the images in real time and in any situation.
Is the same thing about PC monitors?
Yes, the standard for HDR monitors is the same, but here the scams are around the corner. Many screens, especially from the East, promise an HDR that is actually only simulated, since the range of nits often does not exceed 400. This is because it has not yet been set both for companies that produce monitors (LG, HP, Philips), but also for those who create games, movies and supports for PCs, a standard to follow compared to televisions. According to the experts this will happen over time, and will allow not only to have even more detailed monitors for use for example professional, but also an adaptation of the entertainment systems and also of the products related to the latter. And do you need HDR in your monitors? In some cases (graphics, gaming) absolutely yes.
What do HDR standards need in terms of connectivity to be met?
Once we start viewing images on a screen, it is assumed that without HDR those images are reworked in terms of color and saturation to stay behind the basic technology of the screen. In the new generation of HDR TVs this is no longer the case, but there is a need for absolute basic connectivity. First and foremost, HDMI 2.0, the basis of connectivity for decent, properly functioning HDR. Secondly, we need a Display Port 1.2, but if we have a TV with a refresh rate of more than 60Hz, then we will or should have a Display Port 1.4. This is the basic standard to be able to enjoy the features of HDR in a total way, perhaps combined with a television with artificial intelligence and with an automatic dimming feature that avoids flickering of the image and a sharpness always clear and crystal clear in any situation of light and shadow.
How does HDR work for online and physical media?
Amazon Prime Video has long been providing streaming in HDR 10, the basic standard recognized by all as pure HDR and not as playback. Netflix, on the other hand, has a more complex history behind it, since it provides HDR streaming but not automatic, and it is not HDR 10. It is therefore actually a Premium UHD. There are versions of Netflix content in HDR 10, but no one is currently using it, as Netflix certification of compatible TVs is lacking.
As far as Blu-Rays are concerned, the matter is much simpler. Usually the contents of a Blu-Ray are available for viewing in both UHD Premium and HDR-10, and are compatible with virtually any screen on the market. The only complication is the contents in their original mastering. Not all cinema films are “born” in HDR and need to be retouched in post production. It’s not an easy operation and it’s often left out.
What about broadcasting TV?
As far as Broadcasting (SKY for example) is concerned, the situation is much more complex, because in this area it can be transmitted one stream at a time. It will probably end up like in the days of 3D, when SKY was forced to create a separate channel dedicated to transmitting content in this format. Not to mention that still, at least in Italy, many users are equipped with very old decoders, which would not support a format so new and so complex to process.
Dolby Vision, what is it and how does it work?
It has made its way in recent times, but what exactly is it? Dolby Vision is a sort of niche HDR that pushes the (theoretical!) limit of light contrast up to 10,000 nits. A really impressive number, which results in incredible image quality. There is only one problem: Dolby requires money from companies to incorporate its technology into their TVs, and at the moment very few if any company has accepted. Many, including LG with its new OLEDs for example, have opted for the standard solution that costs absolutely nothing, namely the HDR 10.
The basic format that still boasts 4000 nits as a limit. Think that Dolby Vision would process more (10,000 precisely) but there are still no screens that can support the load. That’s why the new generation of TVs are compatible with any HDR format… except Dolby Vision. Things will change (Disney is investing a lot) but today Dolby is a vice for a few, and with today’s technology does not have much market. What is HDR for? In a nutshell, to “load” colors and contrast, for a better spectator experience. And if you want an HDR TV as it should, buy one with HDR 10 certification. Its ability to make images sharp in every situation and to cover such a wide spectrum of colors will leave you breathless every time.
Should I buy a curved Smart TV?
A few years ago, when these televisions appeared, they raised a lot of expectations, partly because of the big advertising campaign that accompanied them. However, over time it became apparent that their performance was not as spectacular as you thought and so the general public ended up turning its back on them almost permanently.
So, even if they are still found in some shops, they are certainly less and less numerous and are doomed to disappear. In addition, it should be borne in mind that, in the long run, any repair would require a rather high cost. However, as they say, “everyone has their own tastes”. In the end, it’s up to you.
How is the sound system of Smart TVs?
Unfortunately, this is one of the weaknesses of smart TVs. In fact, the evolution towards increasingly thinner devices has led to a reduction in audio quality. Ideally, you should integrate your audio system with a soundbar or AV receiver and corresponding speakers.
Smart Tv Purchase criteria
When purchasing a Smart TV, you must take into account a number of purchase criteria. To facilitate the process of choice, we have selected those that we consider essential to be able to adapt to the maximum quality / price ratio. This will save you time and make it much more likely that you will be satisfied with your purchase.
Type of panel
High dynamic range or HDR
Connectivity and ports
At this point, you might not want to buy a TV with the largest screen possible. In this respect, it is important that you take into account the viewing distance. If the room is very small, a television with a too large screen could be seriously harmful in many ways.
Smart Tv Display distance Screen size
“For other sectors the digital impact has been very detrimental, but for television it’s going great. There has never been so much television watched nor has there ever been such a development.
In this regard, each manufacturer usually recommends certain screen sizes depending on the viewing distance. On the other hand, if you decide to buy a television with a resolution of 1,080p, a smaller screen can help you hide the loss of resolution a little.
Display distance Screen size recommended by Samsung
1,3 m 32″
1,6 m 40″
2,1 m 49″
2,3 m 55″
2,9 m 70″
Smart Tv Type of panel
When choosing the type of panel, you can opt for a TV with an LCD or OLED panel. As mentioned above, OLED technology offers superior image quality, but its price is quite high. A similar alternative to OLED, though cheaper, is QLED technology.
The best manufacturers of smart televisions install their personal operating system in their Smart TVs. And so, LG has webOS, a very intuitive and easy-to-use system. However, other brands prefer to use Android TV.
Google’s operating system offers as its main advantage the large number of applications available. On the other hand, it sometimes presents stability problems. In any case, whatever system you choose, you will never miss the most important applications, such as Netflix, Youtube or Skype.
Until the long-awaited 8K UHD (Ultra High Definition) resolution arrives, the two resolutions you can find on smart TVs are 1080p Full HD and 4K Ultra HD. The 4K resolution offers four times the pixel density of the 1,080p. Logically, the image quality is much better.
However, having a 4K resolution implies a significant price increase. So if you’re on a tight budget, you might want to give up on this option. In any case, it’s also true that prices are getting lower and lower, so it’s now possible to find this resolution in some low-end devices.
The refresh rate is the rate at which you update the image on the screen. It is measured in hertz (Hz). Until recently, the most common standard was 60 Hz; but television sets with frequencies of 120 Hz or 240 Hz are now starting to appear, offering much smoother images.
Connectivity and ports
When choosing which smart TV to buy, you don’t have to neglect the connectivity it offers. To get started, you need to consider which Internet connection options it has. It can be via WiFi and/or Ethernet cable. Ideally, you should have both. It is also useful if you have a Bluetooth connection.
It must also have HDMI inputs to connect to Blu-ray players, decoders or soundbars. In this regard, the more ports it has, the better, and if they are HDMI 2.1, the better. There can also be one or more USB ports missing, in case you want to connect some portable hard drive or USB memory. Better if it’s USB 3.0 Type-C.
There are many Smart TV manufacturers today, but not all of them offer the same quality guarantees. The brands that enjoy the best reputation are: LG, Samsung, Sony and Phillips. In particular, LG has been the leader in recent years, thanks to its magnificent OLED screens.
Samsung and Sony are the other two brands that dominate high-end sales. In any case, they are not the only ones that ensure good performance. Brands such as TCL, Hisense, Panasonic or Thomson are also interesting options. In particular, the first two stand out for their low prices.
There’s no doubt that, today, television sets continue to be the kings of the living room. In addition, with the increasing functionality offered by Smart TVs, many homes have become the center of home entertainment, thanks to the ability to connect to both the Internet and other devices.
When you buy a Smart TV, you have to bring a series of questions. To begin with, you need to take into account the size of the room where you’ll be installing it. From here, you can decide the screen size, panel type, resolution and a wide variety of technical specifications.