If it’s been a few years since you purchased a new Flat Screen: TV, well, a lot has changed. No longer is it enough to go into a store and simply look for the best picture and sound. The advent of smart TVs has turned the typical display device into an all-in-one media center for your home theater, den or anywhere. This is good news, because you now get a lot more functionality for your money; however, it also means there are many more features you need to learn about and consider when looking to buy the best flat screen TV.
In short, a smart TV is any television that supports an Internet connection and online content services like Netflix, Amazon Video, VUDU, Cinema Now, Pandora, Slacker and more. Often, smart TVs include advanced features such as voice or gesture control, voice search, social media integration, online games, app control and universal search features. The more features the TV has, the smarter it is. When you combine the streaming services of a smart TV with the free digital channels delivered from an antenna, many people find they don’t need an expensive cable TV subscription.
Here are our 10 best tips for choosing a smart TV:
1. Bigger is better. Our rule of thumb is to get the biggest TV that your wall space can accommodate. For a family’s main TV nothing smaller than 55 inches will do.
2. A smart TV with multiple streaming services is a good choice for a bedroom, den or kitchen, where installing an additional cable box would be difficult.
3. Almost all smart TVs available for sale today use LED LCD technology. The best LED TVs use local dimming to produce deep blacks and high contrast. Full-array backlit TVs do a better job at local dimming than edge-lit TVs, though some edge-lit TVs do a decent job of local dimming.
4. If you watch a lot of 3D movies, then look for a smart TV with active 3D technology. Active 3D delivers full resolution to each eye, but passive 3D cuts the resolution in half. If 3D isn’t very important, then don’t worry about active vs. passive.
5. The best smart TVs have advanced, intuitive menus or guides to help you find the streaming content you want. Bargain-brand TVs tend to have bare-bones menus that can be slow and difficult to use.
6. Full web browsing. Yes, you’d think this would be standard on any smart TV, but surprisingly, it’s not. If you want to look up something on a web browser without having to open up your laptop every time, this is a feature you’ll want.
7. Advanced remote: Because the TVs have gotten more advanced, better remotes were needed to make the TVs easier to use. Some include full built-in keyboards (a nice feature when web browsing) while others use gesture or voice prompts to access favorite features. Imagine speaking into your remote to select a movie.
8. If sound is important to you, don’t use the TV’s built-in speakers. Get a soundbar or soundbase.
9. When viewing TVs in a store showroom, know that they probably haven’t been calibrated and are usually set at the brightest, most unnatural mode. If possible, ask to have the TVs switched to their Movie, Cinema or Theater mode (which is going to make the colors in the picture look a lot more realistic).
10. Wi-Fi or not? If you can, connect your new TV directly to your network router via an Ethernet cable because that signal will be more robust and reliable. Only use Wi-Fi if you can’t get a cable to the TV.