What you should know before shopping

Holiday shoppers look for deals on Black Friday

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Black Friday is a popular time to shop for TVs, but it can also be intimidating when you don’t know what you need.

There are so many TV specs that make shopping overwhelming and confusing. It’s like an acronym attack. What is HDR? What does 8K mean? What is the difference between LCD, OLED and QLED displays? How important is the brand?

Black Friday’s discounted TVs might not be the cream of the crop. “TVs you find on Black Friday tend to be entry-level devices,” says Paul Gagnon, vice president and industry adviser at market research firm The NPD Group. Gagnon, who has been in the TV industry for 25 years, says that especially when it comes to discounts, it’s important to make sure the TV you buy has all the features you need.

Here’s a guide that explains all of these important features so you can find the TV that’s best for you.

What is 4K?

4K TVs are the norm these days. If you’re not sure what 4K means, it describes image resolution. 4K TVs have four times as many pixels as standard 1080p devices. However, keep in mind that most live broadcasts are still not recorded in 4K, so you’ll mainly see the benefit in apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, or if you subscribe to YouTube TV with the 4K premium package.

When choosing between resolutions, specifications such as Ultra HD, UHD or 4K may appear. They all mean the same thing.

What is 8K?

8K resolution is twice the resolution of 4K. It is four times the pixel count of 4K and 16 times more pixels than 1080p.

While that may sound tempting, you’re unlikely to enjoy any of the benefits of 8K as there’s no content shot in 8K yet. Not to mention that 8K TVs are expensive. Be prepared to spend over $2,000.

What is HDR?

David McNew | AFP | Getty Images

HDR, also known as High Dynamic Range, makes your TV shows and movies look the way they were intended by the studio that produced them when shot in HDR. You get more light in darker scenes, which means content is easier to see. Most 4K TVs are also HDR compatible.

The quality of HDR TVs varies greatly. Expensive ones can look good, cheap ones can’t. When done right, HDR can actually be a more important feature than 4K.

Good HDR depends on brightness and contrast. When the bright parts of the TV picture are brighter, the colors are enhanced and the picture appears deeper, and movies and TV shows can appear more lifelike. Suppose you are watching a movie with a shot of the ocean, you can see the nuances and textures of the waves, the deepest blues and the white caps, giving you a sense of the realism of the scene.

However, HDR performance can vary drastically from TV to TV. Make sure the TV you buy has at least 400 nits brightness – a measure of the intensity of the brightness – as sometimes TVs with values ​​below 400 are also marketed as HDR TVs. 600 nits or brighter is better, with the highest performing HDR TVs hitting 1,000 nits or more.

You will see many different types of HDR marketing. HDR10 is the most commonly used as it is an open and free technology standard. Pretty much all TVs that offer HDR support will work with HDR10 content.

There’s also HDR10+, which is supported by most major streamers except Netflix. However, keep in mind that TVs can receive updates. So if a manufacturer decides to go on board with HDR10+, the company can add this feature to your TV without you having to do anything other than update the software.

What does refresh rate mean?

People can play Xbox Game Pass games on 2022 Samsung Smart TVs via cloud connection.

Microsoft

A TV’s refresh rate is the number of times per second it can reset and display an image. Most TVs these days offer either 60Hz, which means the display refreshes 60 times per second, or 120Hz, which refreshes 120 times per second.

The latter is more expensive but can be better if you’re watching a lot of fast-moving content like sports or action movies. When the refresh rate is low, motion blur occurs, making a moving image look blurry.

This number is especially important for gamers. The latest consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X offer 120Hz refresh rates, but you need a true 120Hz TV to see graphics as clearly as possible.

If you’re connecting a gaming system that uses a higher refresh rate, “make sure the TV has an HDMI 2.1 input,” says Gagnon. That’s the port that supports those fast refresh rates, he explains.

What is the difference between LCD, OLED and QLED?

Amazon Fire TV Omni series in QLED

Amazon

Almost every television today uses either a liquid crystal display (LCD) or an organic light emitting diode (OLED) screen. The latter is able to produce the best picture quality, while LCDs generally cost less but can still give you a great picture.

OLED is a newer technology. It doesn’t have a standard backlight. Instead, each pixel is illuminated individually. The highest quality LCDs, on the other hand, feature local dimming, which means parts of the screen can be dimmed without affecting the brightness of the rest of the screen.

“The biggest advantage of LCD is that it’s by far the cheapest of all technologies,” says Gagnon. “The very high-end LCD TVs do a pretty good job of coming close to or matching the performance of OLED displays.”

With OLED, “then you’re usually talking about the highest performing display. So it will have higher contrast levels and better color performance.” It will also be easier to see the TV from multiple angles and it will likely have the fastest refresh rate, Gagnon explains.

There is also QLED, which stands for Quantum Light Emitting Diode. A QLED TV is essentially an LCD TV with quantum dots. Quantum dots are tiny molecules that, when struck by light, emit their own different colored light. Because of this technology, QLED TVs reproduce colors more accurately, which improves the overall picture quality.

With QLED, “you get better color performance, you also get a small improvement in efficiency, which means the set can be a bit brighter, and often these are TVs with different features, such as color vision.” B. higher refresh rates and more HDMI inputs,” says Gagnon.

What about Smart TVs?

iTunes runs on a Samsung TV

Samsung

Almost all TVs are smart now, so no matter which brand you choose, you’ll likely have apps preinstalled on your new TV. You can connect an external streaming device to any TV, e.g. B. an Amazon Fire TV Stick, a Roku box or an Apple TV. If you do, opt for one with 4K and HDR, if supported by your new TV. This way you ensure that you have the best possible viewing experience.

When it comes to using the preinstalled apps on your TV, it’s important to know that smart TV stores where you can download apps for your TV vary by TV brand. Samsung TVs give you access to the Samsung Smart TV Store and LG TVs have the LG Content Store. Other brands work with streamers you’re familiar with. TCL, Hisense, Toshiba and other companies are teaming up with streaming providers you know like Roku, Google Spirit Amazon.

Finding the TV that has the smart service you like integrated is less important than finding the TV with the best quality. You always have the option of adding a streaming device externally to the TV if you prefer one company over another.

If you rely on the TV’s built-in apps, Gagnon suggests making sure the smart TV you buy supports any streaming apps you use frequently. And if you have an iPhone and like screen mirroring, make sure your TV supports Apple’s screen mirroring. If you’re an Android user, make sure your TV supports Casting, Google’s version of sharing content from a phone to a TV.

Soundbars are a good investment

With TVs being so thin these days, there isn’t much room for speakers, meaning most TVs have pretty poor sound quality. Soundbars can solve this problem by offering larger speakers with deeper bass and better throw. They’ll help a little if you’ve ever encountered an issue where a TV show is super quiet in some scenes and then really loud in others. You can find good ones for a range of prices ranging from $100 to $800. You can even get a free one on Black Friday when retailers bundle them with a TV purchase.

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