If you’re used to watching television and movies on a big high-definition screen, choosing a new set can be a little overwhelming. Size matters, but so do these other considerations when you’re buying a new television.
The number of pixels per inch that a screen displays is as important as the number it can pack in vertically and horizontally. Super-high-definition televisions (4K) can display 3840 by 2160 pixels, and the HD race continues to accelerate, with double that resolution on the way.
The problem is the bigger the screen, the less dense the pixels are in each inch of screen acreage. The picture on a massive HD screen won’t actually look as good as on a smaller screen with similar resolution. For the real video show-offs, multi-screen setups of smaller televisions or monitors hung next to each other can combine to create a single high-definition display.
When things move fast, the refresh rate matters. This rate is a measure of how often the picture refreshes on the screen. A slow refresh rate makes fast-moving things look blurry, but a really fast rate is beyond most existing video content. Therefore, televisions with faster refresh rates use various techniques—such as inserting additional images or black images to fill in—to make the picture look less blurry while they wait for content creators to catch up.
People use televisions as computer monitors, as gaming screens, as streaming sticks, and as receivers for audio and video from DVD and Blu-ray players. Don’t spend a bundle on a new television without making sure it has the right type of HDMI port for all the devices you want to connect. These ports may require different types of cables, especially if you’re connecting two monitors together rather than a transmitting device to one TV.
Newer high-definition televisions offer an enhancement called high dynamic range, or HDR. This is the ability to deliver more color, more brightness, and greater contrast. The standard for this feature is still evolving, but early adopters will likely choose the Dolby Vision versions, using a standard created by the same company that introduced Dolby surround sound.
Another consideration when you’re buying a new television is how the screen displays light using liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)—or the newest version, OLED, or organic light-emitting diodes—all of which manage the display pixel by pixel. Ultimately, how the picture looks and the price of the TV will determine your choice among many worthy candidates.
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