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How to buy a television in early 2018




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TV purchase guide: what to look for when you buy on TV


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It's a new year, but buying a new television is the same as always. In other words, it's still overwhelming.

Prices vary widely for TVs of the same size. TV manufacturers and vendors use additional features, extra-terrestrial sound technologies and hyperbolic claims about image quality so you can spend more. And, as usual, the Internet is a disaster of contradictory facts, opinions and unexplained jargon.

This guide aims to be an oasis in the vast desert of television information. I try to fill it with enough easy-to-understand information to help you select a new television. It will not answer all the questions, and when you read it, it will not tell you "the perfect TV for you" at the end. But I hope I can provide you with the basic tools you need to feel safe buying that new set.

What TV should I buy right now? (Updated January 2018)

If you just want to skip all the details and buy a large television, I have some options among the televisions available early in 2018:

For more options, check our constantly updated lists of the better televisions. (The models mentioned above are only for the US, but the advice that follows is universal, you can find the best TVs in the UK here and the best TVs in Australia here.)

Timely advice: Buy now or wait until later in 2018?

All of my TVs recommended above are 2017 models, because the new 2018 models are not yet available. It is likely that the first new ones will appear, along with my first revisions, at the end of February and the beginning of March, but it could be that you do not check the 2018 TV you want to be informed of until the summer or later.

But this is the problem: I already know a lot about these new 2018 TVs. This is because many of the most important TV manufacturers presented their 2018 TVs at the annual CES . Many are crazy ( Samsung's The Wall ) or crazy concepts ( LG Display's roll-up OLED ), but a nice piece will be available in 2018 for those conventional prices. Considering the TVs that I saw on the show, and what I know about the television market in general, here is my advice.

If you buy a new TV now, you probably will not miss much. None of the televisions programmed for the 2018 launch is guaranteed to be superior to the 2017 versions mentioned above. The 2018 OLED TVs from LG and Sony look very similar to the 2017 versions, for example, and I do not expect the "basic" 2018 TVs listed above to be much, if all different. The successor to the TCL series P looks very good, but it is difficult to say how much better it will be than the original. Vizio has yet to detail his 2018 televisions, but once again I do not expect any revolutionary improvement.

In other words, you're perfectly sure of getting a 2017 TV now, and the price is likely to be better than any of the 2018 models, especially during a Super Bowl sale.

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I hope that the TCL series 6 is one of the best values ​​of 2018.


TCL

If you want the latest and the best, or if you are afraid of the buyer's remorse, wait for the new TV reviews. Everything I just said is an educated guess, and I will not know more until I can review the new sets. So, if you are the kind of person who might regret missing the latest television technology or an incremental improvement in the quality of the image, generally available in medium and high-level sets, unlike the basic, by all means Wait. Good things will come to you.

If you want the best price on a TV 2018, wait until November 2018 or later. And if you're the kind of person who wants the best deal AND the newest TV, you'll have to wait even longer. Why? read on

Four (timeless) rules for buying a television

1. Wait until the holidays to get the best prices

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Target / Best Buy / Dell

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the US UU., It is best known for its exorbitant prices on unnamed televisions, but the fact is that almost all televisions receive a reduction in the price of Black Friday. And prices generally remain low during the holiday season and in the new year.

High-end sets can see reductions of 20 to 40 percent compared to prices during spring, when they are released for the first time, and even the cheapest games, which do not have much room for discounts, tend to see a healthy cut too. Unless you have money to spend, it is best to wait.

2. Ignore (most of) the specifications

As a general rule, the main purpose of the spec sheet of a television is to bombard it with confusing terms and numbers in an attempt to get it to "progress" and buy the most expensive version. . Almost the only valid numbers are found in Entries and Weight / Dimensions.

Instead of relying on the spec sheet to provide clues as to which television will work better than another, our advice is simply to ignore it. The sheet can help when it comes to differentiating a TV based on features, such as having HDR, smart TV capability or a sophisticated remote control, but at best it is useless and, in the worst case, misleading when it is used as a tool to guess the quality of the image.

More information: TV marketing terms and what they mean

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Just ignore all these marketing words.


Geoff Morrison / CNET

3. Bigger is really better

I recommend a size of at least 40 inches for a one-bedroom TV and at least 55 inches for a living room or a main TV, and 65 inches or more is best.

In fact, more than any other "feature" like 4K resolution, HDR, smart TV or an elegant remote control, increasing the size of your TV screen is the best use of your money. One of the most common complaints after the TV purchase I've heard is from people who were not big enough. And I almost never hear people complain that their TV is too big.

If you want to install an existing entertainment center, be sure to have at least one inch on the sides and top of the TV cavity to allow ventilation. Or just throw away those old furniture and get a bigger TV.

More information: What size of television should I buy?

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Trust us, bigger is better.


CNET

4. It's worth getting 4K and HDR

TVs with 4K resolution, also known as UHD (Ultra High Definition) TVs, have four times more pixels than TVs with standard 1080p resolution. That sounds like a big improvement, but it's actually very difficult to distinguish the sharpness between a 4K TV and an old HDTV.

On the other hand, 4K TVs are easy to produce for manufacturers, so they fall quickly in price. Vizio and TCL offer 65-inch 4K TVs for around $ 800 in the United States, while LG and Samsung TVs sell for around $ 1,100. Today, many TVs, especially the larger ones, have a resolution of 4K, and the low-resolution and 1080p resolution models are fast becoming the bargain list.

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Most 4K Blu-ray discs also have HDR.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Most of the 4K and higher price TVs this year also have HDR compatibility. HDR offers better contrast and color, so unlike 4K, you can probably see an improvement compared to normal HDTV. However, the magnitude of an improvement (if applicable) depends on the TV, and as with 4K, you should observe the actual HDR content. And just because a TV is compatible with HDR does not mean that it actually has a better performance with or without an HDR source.

4K TV shows and movies are rare today, and HDR is even less common. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon offer both, but only with a handful of titles. You can also invest in a 4K Blu-ray player (such as Sony UBP-X800 or Xbox One S), which also makes HDR and discs to play on it. However, real 4K and / or HDR television channels still do not exist in the United States.

In summary? All the best televisions are 4K TVs with HDR. If you're buying a medium-sized or larger TV, you'll probably end up with a 4K anyway, and HDR is likely to do that too.

More information: Why all the HDRs on TVs are not the same

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Each CNET TV review is done as a side-by-side comparison with up to seven TVs .


Sarah Tew / CNET

Image quality p and q

I think that the best image quality for money is a kind of holy grail in the search for a new television. It remains, consistently, the number 1 that TV buyers cite as important for their purchase decision.

If you do not prioritize PQ, you'll get the best value by simply ordering a list of TVs by price along with the screen size you want, choosing the cheapest one from a brand you trust and calling is a day OR less skip to the next section of this guide.

After more than 15 years reviewing HDTV, I feel comfortable transmitting some generalizations that I have observed about the quality of the image:

  • OLED TVs have the best image quality available, but they are still quite expensive.
  • Almost all The TV uses LED LCD technology, which (despite the similarity "LED") is very different from OLED.
  • LED LCD TVs with local attenuation often outperform those that do not.
  • Full-array LED backlit LED LCD TVs often outperform those with LED backlighting with edge lighting.
  • The ability to produce a deep shade of black, which translates into high contrast, is the most important ingredient in a good image.
  • Color saturation, which is directly influenced by the contrast / black level, is the second most important, followed by color accuracy.
  • In a bright room, matte screens are best for reducing reflections. The best bright screens keep the black levels well.
  • Less important factors include resolution, color gamut, video processing, maximum light output and screen resolution (4K versus 1080p).
  • Many people do not realize they are watching the effect Soap Opera and would like more of the picture quality of their TV if they deactivated it.
  • Poor image settings on a good TV will generally look worse than calibrated image adjustments on a horrible TV.

In summary, image quality is more complex than simply counting pixels or reading a specification sheet, and your best option is to read reviews, such as CNET's. Hopefully, you can also have the opportunity to see a good TV in person along with someone who can explain why is good.

Other readings: The best TVs for image quality, regardless of price

Considerations beyond size, price and image quality

Those are the "big three" TV purchases, but it's worth knowing some other things.

Voice Control, including Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa

The biggest new trend in gadgets, including televisions, is the ability to be controlled by voice commands. Remote TV controls with built-in microphones and push-to-talk functionality, for example to search for TV shows and movies, are nothing new. The new thing in 2017 and 2018 is the integration between the televisions and the two big players of the current voice, Google and Amazon.

Sony TVs 2017 and 2018, as well as LG TVs 2018 have built-in Google Assistant, so you can use your voice remote controls not only to search, order pizza, play trivial games and music, control lights and other Smart Home devices. Amazon Fire TV Edition sets incorporate Alexa, and Samsung's 2018 TVs will receive their Bixby digital assistant .

Even more great is the ability to control certain functions on TVs with an Alexa or the Google Home speaker, without touching the remote control. Those same TVs Amazon, LG and Sony will work with Alexa commands, and Vizio sets can be ordered with Google Home. Even Roku is adding his own digital assistant in 2018 .

Additional reading: I controlled a Sony OLED Android TV with an Amazon Echo Dot

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David Katzmaier / CNET

HDMI connections

TV connectivity has become less complex since the important inputs have been reduced to one type: HDMI. Simply count the number of devices you want to connect and make sure your TV has at least as many HDMI ports (or one or two extra if it is going to expand). The USB inputs are nice to show photos, but hardly necessary. You only need to worry about the analog ports if you have an older device to connect; Nintendo Wii is the classic offender without HDMI.

Almost all new 4K TVs have enough solid HDMI connections (version 2.0 2.0a or 2.0b with HDCP protection against copy ) for work with a range of the latest 4K and HDR equipment. The latest HDMI 2.1 standard will not be available on any of the 2018 TVs I've heard of, but for most people that's not a good reason to wait for a new TV. And yes, it should buy cheap HDMI cables .

Additional reading: Why all HDMI cables are the same; 4K HDMI cables (they are nonsense); Do you need new HDMI cables for HDR?

Smart TV

Since you can connect an inexpensive HDMI device or bar to make any TV "smart", in the sense that you have access to Netflix, Amazon Instant and the rest, the "applications" in Los Televisions are often redundant. That's why I want my dumb TV (or failing that, a Roku TV). Even so, your next TV will probably have smart apps, whether you use them or not.

One advantage of integrated applications is that they are probably 4K and / or HDR if your TV supports those formats, while cheaper external streamers are not. On the other hand, you can get a great streamer 4K HDR for $ 65 and many times the experience will be much better than on the TV.

Additional reading: Smart TV or media streamer?

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Roku televisions are easy to use, with a large number of transmission applications and a large antenna support.


Sarah Tew / CNET

TV antenna tuner

If you are planning to cut the cable TV cable or have already done so, you can make sure that the TV you receive has a built-in air tuner It will allow you to watch TV transmissions Free local TV, generally of higher quality than cable, satellite or transmission.

Most do it, with the notable exception of Vizio TVs with the SmartCast function; for example, the M and E series that I recommended in the upper part. If you want to watch TV by air in one of those, you will have to buy an external tuner separately. Meanwhile, some new TVs, such as the Roku TVs and Amazon Fire TV Edition, are particularly tuner-friendly, with full grid program guides and, in the case of Roku, a guide that points to broadcast programs .

More information: Cord cutter guide for the best indoor antennas

Remote controls

If you are not planning to use a universal model or the remote control that came with your decoder, pay attention to the included clicker of the TV. It's nice when you can control other equipment directly (especially the new Samsung system is great) and I prefer that the televisions include medium-sized remote controls with well-differentiated and backlit buttons. Luxury remotes with touch panels and gesture controls are nice, but a good universal model will almost always work better, sending the included remote control to ignominy in a drawer.

More information: The best universal remote controls

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A good universal remote control can easily remove the one that comes with your TV.


Sarah Tew / CNET

High-end style, hidden cabling

As TV sets are basically furniture, manufacturers have concentrated on making their sets look better. One of the most extreme examples is LG "OLED wallpaper", that is so thin that it basically blends with the wall. Nowadays, many televisions look like almost all of them in the front, and when viewed from the side or hanging on a wall, the thin cabinets almost disappear. Other innovations include channels to hide cabling and, in the case of high-end Samsung TVs, a separate input box to further combat clutter.

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Samsung's QLED 2017 televisions have an elegant design with hidden wiring and earned our highest "Design" score from last year.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best TV brand?
I do not have a favorite brand; instead, I try to judge the televisions that I test for their individual merits, ignoring the prestige of the brand or reputation. I do not test TVs for the long term, but as far as I know, all the major brands are more or less equally reliable. Some brands perform more consistently than others in my tests, or deliver remote controls, smart TV systems or designs that I prefer over the competition, but these can change quite regularly.

Another way to answer that question is to check my current list of the best televisions.

What is the best TV for games? What's up with sports?
Deceptive question! I think the best televisions to see almost anything are the TVs with the best level of black, color and other standard performance features (not to mention the bigger screen). Motion resolution is not a major concern since most of the blurring at sporting events are inherent to the source, and the entry delay that we measure for each TV review can often be improved by modes of specialized game common in most TVs.

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The entry delay is measured for each television that we review.


Sarah Tew / CNET

What about all those image adjustments? Should I buy a calibration?
Correct adjustment of the image is very important to get the most out of your TV. That said, simply selecting the "Movie", "Cinema" or "Calibrated" preset will get the most accurate picture on most TVs. If you want to go further, check the configuration database of my image and Frequently asked questions along with articles HDTV settings explained and what is HDTV calibration ? for advice is right for you. DIY users can try one of these Blu-ray installation discs for their HDTV or even try a calibration at a glance .

What accessories should I buy?
Let me reiterate: All HDMI cables are the same . If you do not have a universal remote yet, you should get one. Our list of best home videos and the best audio equipment for the home has other good suggestions.

How long will my new TV last?
The short answer is "it should last a long time". Here is the longest version.

Can I use my TV as a computer monitor?
Yes, it can, and it should work very well, especially if it has a 4K resolution. Here are some tips .

How do I set it?
Geoff Morrison covers it again .

How come you never mention the rear projection or the plasma television?
Because rear-projection TVs are no longer on sale from 2012, and the latest plasma TVs were manufactured in 2014. They will be missed. .

OK, and what about the front projection?
Unlike dinosaur overhead projectors, I think the front projectors are great, and we've reviewed some. And yes, your TV is too small .

What happened to 3D TV?
Once a futuristic complement full of promises, do you remember "Avatar"? – 3D TV is now basically dead. The last two major brands that support 3D, Sony and LG, stopped receiving full support in 2017, joining Samsung, Vizio and most other brands. All the television manufacturers we asked cited the lack of consumer interest.

Which HDR format is better, HDR10 or Dolby Vision? What about HLG, and HDR10 +?
Neither has proven to be better in our tests, but so far Dolby Vision TVs look a little better when fed with Dolby Vision content compared to HDR10. But it depends mainly on the TV – The Sony X900E for example, lacks Dolby Vision and still is one of the best HDR players on the market. For more information, see our guide for HDR formats and an in-depth view of HDR10 + .

Seriously, what about QLED, SUHD, Super UHD, Triluminos, Quantum Dots, UHD Alliance Premium Certified and so on?
Remember when I told you to ignore the spec sheet? Still curious? Alright then.

Where can I find the latest TV reviews?
Right here.

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Sarah Tew / CNET

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