• Oh for the good old days of buying a television set:
    1.) What size screen
    2.) Portable or Console
    3.) Drive to Sears and bring home the TV

Obviously, people have various viewing habits. We can't tell you what TV set is best for you. We can explain what most of the TV specifications list on the box at the store or in reviews mean to help you make a more informed decision.

 

Below we mention ATSC 1 and ATSC 3 TV tuners. The is no ATSC 2 because TV broadcast technology blew past ATSC 2 before it was distributed. ATSC is an anagram for Advanced Television Systems Committee. This is a group of government and broadcast executives and  engineers designing the specifications for future TV technologies.

 

ATSC 1 was the original transmitter specs of the year 2007. In 2023,  ATSC 3 is the updated TV transmission standard in the United States.

 

ATSC 3, also known as Next Gen TV, is not "backward compatible" with ATSC 1.  Next Gen TV provides a number of upgraded features that can only be seen on TV sets that have an installed ATSC 3 tuner, or connected to a separate ATSC 3 converter box you can buy and attach to your TV if it has an ATSC 1 tuner.

 

Note the "ATSC 3 converter boxes" attached to the back of the ATSC 1 TV will unscramble and display the programs on your TV screen, but not all of the TV picture enhancements of ATSC 3 will be available on the older TV screen.

 

If you don't wish to read all the TV blah blah blah written below on what to look for when buying a TV , here is our eight paragraph spoiler note:

 

Do not purchase by price alone. If your TV budget allows it, today I would stay with:

A.) either the 4K OLED or 4K QLED screen

B.) with at least two (2) HDMI inputs (more is better)

C.) a TV antenna input

D.) Both wireless and Ethernet (wired) internet inputs.

 

For the average TV viewer I would suggest the 4K OLED TV set. If you watch more daytime TV in a bright room, go with Samsung's 4K QLED. QLED is often more expensive than an OLED screen, but early in 2023, the average QLED screen was brighter than the average OLED screen.  But the choice isn't quite that easy, because the OLED has a better contrast than QLED. The average QLED screen does not produce sharp nighttime scenes that require pure black sections of the screen as clearly as the OLED screen because of "dimming specs" we will note later. Some newer QD style screens from Samsung are beginning to appear out in public and do produce a better on-screen nighttime view than their earlier QLED screens.

 

If your room is large enough for you to sit seven or more feet from the screen, choose a TV screen size listed at fifty-five to seventy-five inches. Picking too large a screen for your room could cause motion sickness in a dark room. Choosing a screen too small for your room won't be as satisfying for your TV viewing.

 

Check the audio. You may need a sound bar, depending upon the TV set speaker location and the features of your room such as sound absorbing fabric or bare floors / walls that might cause echoing. Ensure the TV set and sound bar have Optical and regular audio in and out ports. Some sets have speakers that fire downward or toward the back of the TV. This will cause the audio to "bounce" off the wall behind the TV before coming to your ears.

 

Select TV manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, Sony, and Hisense TV (USA), offer ATSC 3 (also known as Next Gen TV) tuners in some higher end categories. (Hisense provides ATSC 3 in most of their TV sets, and the company is known for providing good quality at affordable prices.) Older TV sets use ATSC 1 tuners.

 

ATSC 3, also known as Next Gen TV offers additional features and TV picture quality. If the TV set you are interested in has an ATSC 3 tuner, great! But if not, do not cross the set off your list just because the set isn't ATSC 3 compatible. If you are connected to cable TV, most likely an ATSC 3 tuner will not enhance your TV video enough to be easily noticeable.

 

When reading the specifications for a TV remember that the average OLED or QLED TV screen is limited to a refresh rate of 60 to 120 Hz, and has one of these resolution specifications:

 HD (High Definition) resolution of 720 (HD Ready)

1080p (Full HD) or

2160p (4K UHD)

I would not purchase a TV with a 720 resolution unless the screen is smaller than 36 inches. The 1080p (HD) resolution is what most TV sets sold in the last several years uses. 2160p (4K UHD) is the resolution of a 4K TV set which will be the big seller by the end of 2023. If you internet-stream programs or view TV Over-The-Air (OTA) try your best to go 4K UHD - especially if your TV screen will be 60 inches or larger.

 

You can't sit at a computer to buy your TV. You really do need to visit showrooms and look at the screens to see which TV sets in your price range work better for you.

 

End of our spoiler note for purchasing a new TV set.

 

Now for the blah blah blah:

 

Prices for TV sets in 2023 have continued to drop as technology costs become streamlined and competition increases. However, one should be careful purchasing a new TV only by price. Each year the TV manufacturers add features enhancing digital and streaming TV, such as TV Guide style grid screens; internet browsers with a dedicated APP (Application) screen for streaming; Ethernet and wireless internet access; enhanced video; diminishing burn-in issues; and more robust remote controls for these features. Some manufactures even provide "free channels" streamed to your TV. Maybe a hundred or more. A majority of the TV set free channels that I have reviewed aren't channels I would normally watch. A couple have potential for viewing some older movies, but many of these channels are category specific in how-to-do programs, etc. Do not purchase a TV thinking you will get free cable TV. 

 

Manufacturers have introduced categories (models) for their TV sets. The lowest categories offer TV sets with at a lower cost, but with lower technological standards and fewer features. Each next higher category brings additional technology and features, but a higher price than the category below it.

 

In the "olden days of TV" the cost was tempered by the years of service the average TV produced. Except for bringing about Color TV in the sixties, TV set technology was pretty standard and stamped out as easy as toaster ovens. The TV purchase cost was spread out over years of viewing. Today, you might think more towards a seven year lifespan instead of fifteen. It depends on what new features appear in the days ahead. Digital TV Technology is undergoing its own revolution, both on the broadcasting (i.e., ATSC 3) and newer TV sets with various technologies competing with one-another for the premier picture. TV technology of today is being replaced by TV technology of tomorrow.

 

We have traveled through several screen technologies and today 4K OLED and 4K QLED account for most TV sales in the US. One issue with the original OLED design is a lack of brightness. The picture is excellent in a dark room, but if you watch TV during the day in a well lighted room, the screen may seem a bit dim. Newer technology each year helps to improve the OLED picture.

 

Samsung's QLED screens are brighter, but have an issue of lower picture contrast, and if the viewer does not sit in front of the TV screen there can be diminished picture resolution and color while sitting to the side of the set.

In the retail store showrooms, TV set screens are set to a very high brightness and contrast to appear bright and beautiful under the retail store's bright fluorescence lights. At home the viewer would not normally have the set adjusted to such a high brightness.


All TV broadcast digital technologies improve yearly. If you watch three or more hours of TV each day, it could be worth it to purchase a little more TV than the basic $500 US TV set. Most of us enjoy watching a clean, sharp, bright picture with clear audio.

Todays TV sets are so thin, the audio speaker is relegated to second place behind / below the picture. Sound bar offerings are up. A sound bar is a separate set of speakers that provide audio for the TV. Usually the sound bar is around the same width or slightly shorter to fit in between the stand legs of the TV screen. The sound bar often is three to five inches tall and three to six inches deep to allow for proper speaker design aimed at the viewer. Often designed to be mounted on the wall below a wall mounted TV screen, some sound bars include a separate bass speaker for added audio depth.   Adding (at an additional price) a sound bar to the purchase can help increase the quality of the audio. Some TV sets come with a sound bar included. This tells you what the manufacturer thinks of their own TV set speakers. A great picture isn't as satisfying if you can not understand what the characters are saying or the singers are singing. If you get home and love the TV picture but not the sound, you can often add a sound bar to most TV sets at any time in the future. Purchase a TV with an Optical audio output.


In 2022, television sets with built in Amazon Fire or Roku streaming stick features became more relevant as streaming programs through the internet enjoyed popularity. I would personally purchase a regular top brand Smart TV and a separate Fire or Roku streaming system device. Upgrades would be cheaper and simplier.

 

What are the most important TV specifications? This list is a bit subjective, and not especially in order of importance:

 

1) Resolution. 2) Smart TV  3) Refresh rate  4) Screen Image: LED LCD, OLED, QLED  5) HDR   6) Local Dimming  7) Viewing angle.

 

1.) Resolution= Resolution determines how many pixels fit on your screen. Pixels are the dots of old analog TV sets that create a color picture. The more pixels, the sharper the picture. The larger the TV screen you purchase, the more important the resolution selection.

 

When considering various TV screen sizes, consider your TV room. How far away will you normally sit from your TV? HD TV (High Definition) at 1080p and 1080i are fine for TV screens under 55 inches. (The "p= progressive" and "i= interlaced" are the way the TV set replaces each screen with the next scene so there is no viewable flicker. Few, if any, TV sets use 1080i any longer. ATSC 3 allows for program viewing to be sharper with 1080p and a 120 Hertz refresh rate.

 

Purchasing a very large TV screen, say over 75 inches diagonally has been known to cause some viewers sitting to close to the screen, say less than six feet or so, to become queasy or suffer slight motion sickness. Especially when viewing in a dark room.

Higher numbers produce higher /sharper resolutions:

  • HD Ready - 720p, or 1280x720 pixels (HD - High Definition - for smaller screens)
  • Full HD - 1080p, 1920x1080 pixels (HD - High Definition)
  • 4K (UHD) - 2160p, or 3840x2160 pixels (UHD - Ultra High Definition)
  • 8K (UHD) - 4320p, or 7680x4320 pixels (UHD - Ultra High Definition)

I would not purchase a set listed as HD Ready (720) if the screen is more than thirty inches in size.

 

In January 2023, I also would not purchase an 8K (UHD - Ultra High Definition) TV. At this time, very few productions are available in 8K.

 

2K video (also known as 1080p - HD=High Definition) has been the standard format. In early 2023, 1080p (1920 x 1080) was the most common TV resolution

 

Is 4K coming up soon? Yes!  Before 2023, 4K TV (UHD) sets didn't sell well because there weren't many 4K programs available. But prices of 4K TV sets are dropping and sales are rising. So one can expect more 4K programs going forward. It might be live sports programs or streaming movies that make it happen, but 4K should be in full force in 2024.  With OTA (Over-The-Air) TV signals through an antenna, you are ready for the newest arriving format and the updated 4K electronics in the TV set should efficiently handle todays and tomorrows broadcasts with quality. Lower TV categories may bring a lower standard of 4K upgrade video for current 2K programs. Just enlarging the pixels probably won't make the picture sharper. See "Upgrading picture" below.

 

2.)  Smart TV= A Smart Television offers the same options as a regular TV, except the smart TV includes an internet connection that allows the TV to provide a link to stream and download programs and other audio/video options from the internet. These TV sets usually include a computer browser style window for the TV to allow downloading various video and music streaming applications (APP).

The lower the model category, the fewer Smart TV options available for the TV viewer.

 

Parks Associatesí Q3 2022 survey of 10,000 US internet households finds adoption of smart TVs has reached 63%. 

(Parks Associates, a woman-founded and certified business, is an internationally recognized market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services since 1986.   About the Company | Parks Associates Research

 

I would look for a SMART TV with a picture bright enough to have an enjoyable picture in your TV room in the daytime. Some sets have brightness issues.  Ensure the TV picture is sharp and clear for both daytime and nighttime scenes, and that the sound is clean. It would be nice but not required, if the TV has the newer Next Gen tuner (ATSC 3).

 

Also ensure there are:

  • At least two (more is better) HDMI inputs

  • One TV antenna input

  • And that the TV has both optical and normal audio outputs for a sound bar or external speakers/headphones, etc.

I would want to be able to add any legal streaming APP I wish to my SMART TV browser / hub window, and have a good free TV guide built in.

 

3.)    Refresh Rate=  I believe we all know that motion pictures and television programs are just still pictures shown in rapid succession. This is the Refresh Rate. Smaller screens can live with a refresh rate of 30 to 60 pictures per second. A few large screen television sets still use a 60 Hz (Hertz) refresh rate. This works for scenes where there is no fast motion. But scenes with airplanes, race cars, running, or footballs speeding across the scene, especially sixty-five inch and larger screens, would probably show the moving object jerkily as it moved across the screen. This is because the object moved further across the screen before the next picture was sent to the screen. Better quality TV sets can raise the refresh screen rate to, say 120 Hz. The average TV viewer does not like a continuously high refresh screen rate. We were brought up watching the older screen rates and the faster rates look weird. If you wish to see an example, watch an afternoon TV soap opera live, recorded digitally or on video tape. The video is so smooth is doesn't always look natural to us. A very high refresh rate even has a name: The Soap Opera Effect. Look for a TV with a variable refresh rate from 60 to 120 Hz. The average 1080p TV set doesn't normally have a refresh rate higher than 120 Hertz (Htz)

 

4.)    Screen Image =  This topic is tough. Technology is changing screen tech rapidly.

 CRT (cathode ray tube) No longer available

  PLASMA (Named for the gas between the glass sheets creating the picture)

 LED (light-emitting diode)

 LCD (liquid crystal display),

 QLED(quantum dot).

  OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode)

 QD-OLED (Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode)  New from Samsung.

 Micro LED (Micro Light Emitting Diode)with Mini LEDs backlight tech

 Mini-LED (Mini Light Emitting Diode - Not as small as Micros LED) Mostly used now as the backlighting replacement LCD lighting.

  NanoCell / QNED

 

Today, 4K OLED and 4K QLED and their children are battling it out. Regular QLED screens use back panel lighting. Newer QD LED screens from Samsung do not require a separate background lighting display.  OLED screens do not require a separate light panel, but the OLED is known for its dimmer display. OLED is manufactured by LG Electronics. QLED is manufactured by Samsung. Interestingly (at least to me) both companies are international companies based in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea uses the same TV standards as the USA.

 

A.) OLED and 4K OLED, made by LG Electronics, can emit its own light. An OLED TV can be very thin as back panel lighting is not required. OLEDs can produce vibrant colors and deep black levels, but the lack or true brightness is a concern for viewing an OLED TV in a bright room. 

 

Some viewers report their sets experience 'burn in' images on OLED screens. Burn in doesn't happen rapidly and many viewers never experience the issue. But it remains a possibility if you leave the screen on a single non-changing site for long periods of time. For example, if you are listening to a music channel where the screen doesn't change, a Christmas burning log fireplace for several evenings, or a TV network logo sits at the bottom right of your screen for days on end.

 

B.) QLED, 4K QLED and QDLED, were developed by Samsung. All QLED screens use "quantum dots" to produce color and contrast. Original QLED screens do require backlighting. Newer sets have multiple backlighting zones, so sections of the screen can produce a darker screen across part of the screen for nighttime scenes. QLED TVs produce a much brighter screen than an OLED screen, so daytime viewing in a bright room is usually not an issue. The extra backlighting though can hinder a combined light and dark scene, such as a nighttime setting with a streetlight. Burn in hasn't been reported as an issue, as far as I have read.  In early 2023, I would go with the newer tech of either 4K OLED or 4K QLED.

 

C.) QD-OLED,  The newer technology from Samsung uses the light producing OLED with the brightness and color range potential of QLED.

 

QD-OLED is available in January 2023, in the new higher category of Samsung sets, but it is a higher caliber viewing screen.

 

D.) NanoCell also known by LG as QNED. NanoCells have a mid-range price (about half the price of an OLED TV). This technology from LG  can often produce a better picture than older LED TV screens, but not the OLED screen. Some reviewers think the NanoCell, alias QNED, has a better picture than Samsung's QLED; however, the Samsung picture is brighter.

 

As I mentioned topside, you will view an excellent screen from a 4K OLED or 4K QLED TV, though I would not choose a low category model. If money is tight for this part of your budget at this time, but you still wish to purchase a TV, I would choose a better screen quality with a smaller screen size, than a larger screen with poorer display technology. You can always sit closer and view a nice sharp colorful screen. But if you choose poor resolution than no distance will improve your viewing.

 

5.) HDR= (High Dynamic Range) is one of the biggest advances in TV technology in recent years. It enhances the picture quality in movies and shows by displaying a wider range of colors with brighter highlights compared to Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content. SDR has a limited range of brightness and colors so images tend to be duller and less sharp.  YES to HDR!

 

6.) Local Dimming= To properly view nighttime scenes, the better TV sets have "Local Dimming" or "Full Array Dimming" so the TV can darken part of the picture while still showing people and objects clearly in a night scene. There is also a HDR ( High Dynamic Range -See above) format that allows additional shades from black to dark grey to light grey to white. This additional black to white scale allows objects to be more visible during a night-time scene with shadow covered objects visible in the scene. Higher category OLED screens produce their own lights, so they don't use back-lighting normally. For this reason, in January 2023, OLED screens can produce the best dark (black) nighttime scenes. Other systems such as LCD, LED, and QLED do use backlighting.

 

But OLED is also the least bright screen, so OLED screens are known to have a dimmer screen which should be considered if you will watch much TV during the day in a brightly lit room. The TV screen could appear to be slightly washed out.

 

7.) Viewing Angle= For viewers that sit off to the side, not directly in front of the TV screen.  OLED screens can be viewed with little luminance degradation even at viewing angles up to around 75 degrees.

 

Some QLED TVs have improved lately in terms of viewing angle, with anti-reflective layers helping, but there is degradation as a viewer gets more than 70 degrees to the side. However, larger screens, say 60 inches and up provide a larger viewing angle.

 

There are a lot of acronyms thrown at you when purchasing a TV set today. Some are important, some not so much.

 

 8.)  Upscaling =The ability to make lower-resolution video look better on higher-resolution screens, upscaling is a feature you will find on a variety of video devices, including DVD players and of course, televisions. It can help enhance the way cable signals (often transmitted in 720-pixel resolutions) are displayed on 4K televisions.

 9.)  Bezel= The technical term for the frame around your television screen, the bezel is getting a lot of attention these days as manufacturers try to make their products more attractive to buyers. Big, chunky plastic bezels are a thing of the past. Now thinner, piano black or metal bezels are popular with consumers. And high-end TVs are practically bezel-free, with slick, glass slabs bringing living rooms into the future.

10.)  HDCP= Standing for "high-bandwidth digital content protection," HDCP is basically copy protection for the 21st century. While TV shopping, you may see this listed as a tech spec, but it is not really a feature so much as it is a fact of our increasingly digital life. Given the choice, you will likely want a television with HDCP, since a some of today's streaming boxes and services require it.

11.)  HDMI= An acronym for "high-definition multimedia interface," HDMI is a digital cable and port combination that replaced various analog audio/video cords that used to equipment to our TV sets. Able to transmit both pictures and sound.

12.)  Edge-Lit LED Backlighting= (Also see number 6 above -local dimming) Less expensive than full-array, the edge-lit backlighting inserts a strip of LED lighting around the bezel of the television that lights up to improve the image's brightness or color saturation. Because it is only around the edge and not sitting behind the middle of the screen, edge-lit backlighting is often used by manufacturers to make their televisions cheaper and thinner. But this is the least effective way to light a screen causing more washout in dimmer scenes. Local or Full Array are much better.

13.) Over-The-Top Service (OTT)= Another term for a streaming video service. Over-The-Top services deliver television and movies via internet data, rather than cable, satellite, or a TV antenna.

14.)  Over-The-Air (OTA)= TV shows broadcast from local television stations in your city (usually within 60 miles) and captured by an antenna connected to your home TV.

 

There are more "features" listed on TV store websites and boxes. Some of these items are just marketing terms by the TV set manufacturer.

 

If you decide to buy a new television set, you can purchase one at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Department and Electronics stores, Home Depot, Lowes, and other retailers, or online at Amazon or on the internet version of popular retail stores and more.

 

 Important Notes:

First, if your TV set will be standing on a table top, install a TV support wire to the back of the TV to keep the TV screen from tipping over, and possibly hurting someone near the screen. There are inexpensive wiring kits you can buy when you purchase a flat screen TV set. TV sets today are very thin and can easily tip over without proper support.

 

Secondly, do not mount the TV above a fireplace. The heat in the wall can degrade the picture and will shorten the flat screen TV lifespan.

 

Thirdly - (Yes, it is a word), if mounting on the wall, purchase the proper wall mounting bracket for your flat screen TV. See the TV set manual for details. Then review all the mounting plate wall hanging procedures in advance so that you will have the proper stud finder, screws, tools, electric plugs near by, etc.

You might even need a drywall saw and cover plates if you wish to hide cable and electric lines behind the wall from the TV set to connected devices. Personally, I would wait and makes holes at a later date, once you are sure this is the TV and location that satisfies your viewing needs.

 

Fourthly - Higher resolutions such as changing to 4K and perhaps in the future 8K will require considerably more data streaming through the internet for your TV viewing. The home viewer will need a proper modem / router as these changes occur. I continue to suggest you run the internet Ethernet cable to your TV set. Your TV set will require oodles of data each second of TV viewing. Give your TV priority over the competition for your internet data downloads. Routers listed as AC or AD should be fine. Routers listed as N (or lower alphabet letter) might have issues. An Ethernet modem cable connected directly to the TV set will absolutely positively guaranteed give you a better and more stable picture than using wireless. OK, use wireless to start if you have to. But if you see dropouts, picture freezes, etc., drag a cable  from the router to the TV and see if this reduces those picture abnormalities.

 

If you notice internet based daytime TV viewing is fine but nighttime and /or weekend video has dropout and freezing issues, your internet provider might be on the edge of maximum cable connections in your neighborhood. During non-workday hours, more neighbors may be on the internet, whether email, YouTube, or video streaming, and sharing the internet database with you.

 

Have your internet provider check for outdoor amplifier issues or cable "leaks" with poor connections. Your internet provider can test your incoming internet signal to see if you are receiving the proper signal strength and speed.

 

NOW, back to the core of this website, If you are just looking to drop cable TV, you might not need a new TV.  If your current television has an antenna coax connection, you should just start with your current TV to "see" what TV channels you can receive for free, and what type of TV might fit best into your future viewing plans.

 

You might even decide that you wish to mount a TV on the wall. If so, do you want a console below the TV to hide cables, internet router, DVD player, DVR, etc.

DVD - Digital Video Disc

DVR - Digital Video Recorder - Also know as

PVR - Personal Video Recorder.

 

I hope this helped.

 

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TaylorTG