Blog entry

Media Rooms: TV Buying Guide

Media Rooms: TV Buying Guide

08Aug 2019

Just like our grandparents became the “Baby Boomers”, I firmly believe that my generation will end up with some clever name to reflect the change in our times. Like the Baby Boomer Generation, we were the last group of kids to do some things and the first to do others. Case in point, my age group was probably one of the last age groups to use a pay phone or rabbit ear antennas. We were also the first group to start posting stuff on social media. (Hi myspace! We don’t miss you!)

Social Media Logos

We were also the first group that grew up with electronics. My dad loved computers and I spent half of my childhood shuffling pc parts off the kitchen table so I could do my homework. I remember one of the first computers that my dad ever got. It was terrible.

The screen on that thing was like a 10” screen. It was completely text based, there wasn’t a mouse and it used the large floppy discs. (Raise your hand if you remember those bad boys.) I can remember the first real video game I played on a pc was a Bugs Bunny game that was very reminiscent of Donkey Kong.

IBM Dinosaur

This early start with electronics led me to have a fascination with them. I have learned over the years what are the most important parts of most electronics purchases. How you can get more bang for your buck and what the major differences are.

One of the things that I have had to learn the hard way is to figure out what is hype and what isn’t. Often, you’ll see something that is a name brand and right beside it is the same item with a different name. People ignore what is a great bargain because they don’t understand what they are shopping for.


Your Needs

Before you set foot in a store or look a single thing up online, you should think about what you need in a tv. There are 4 parameters to this: Location, Purpose, Connectivity and Budget.

tv wall mount
Location

So, jumping straight into it, you need to consider where you are going to be placing the tv. Modern flat screens don’t have the same limitations as the old school box sets. You can either have them sitting on an entertainment center or your can mount it on the wall.

If it is going to be the focal point of your room, you can probably go as big as the space will allow. Make sure you measure the place where you are going to put your new tv. We’ll talk more about this in a little bit, but tv’s are measured from corner to corner. That means that the width of your tv is actually going to be smaller than the size of the screen.

Another thing to consider is how you are going to be mounting it. If you are using a wall mount, make sure that you purchase a wall mount that will work for the type of wall you are mounting on. That was probably a little confusing.

Most inside walls of your home are built using drywall. Drywall doesn’t hold anything very well. So, if you have drywall on your home’s interior walls, you are going to need a mount that is specially made for drywall that can distribute the weight of the tv without it tearing out chunks of wall.

If you are getting a tv for a smaller area, like your bedroom or a kid’s room, consider using a mount that will allow the tv to have more range of motion. They make mounts that allow your tv to be moved in any direction that you need it to face.

tv in living room
Purpose

Decide what you are going to be using the tv for. If it’s the main tv in the home, that’s a no brainer. Netflix and chill, anyone? If it’s for a room where it won’t get used as often, it might be beneficial to wait until the sales season starts or dropping the size that you were thinking of.

If the tv is going to be used outside, see about getting a cover for the tv. That way you know that you are protecting it as much as possible from the elements. If you are using it for a home theater situation and you just can’t find a screen big enough, consider going with a projector and screen instead.

wifi signal
Connectivity

How are you going to be connecting the tv to the entertainment of your choice? How many connectors do you need? We needed a tv with at least 3 HDMI ports. We watch the majority of our entertainment on our satellite system so that’s one. My husband likes to game a bit, so we needed another for the PlayStation. And we occasionally like to watch things on our chrome cast so that’s 3.

That’s the exact process that you need to go through with your tv purchase. We moved our older tv into our daughter’s room and that was great for her because all she needed was a way to watch her movies and play some games. So, she only needed two HDMI ports.

The other thing you need to consider is whether or not you need to have a tv capable of connecting to the internet. I didn’t think that we would ever need a tv that connected to the internet, but now that we have one, I don’t know if I would want to give it up.

We don’t have a super smart tv. It still does some really dumb things sometimes, but it does have a WIFI adapter. This means that we didn’t have to run a specific cord to just hook it up. It just grabbed the connection and connects automatically. (The coolest thing is that if we are on the WIFI on our phones, we can cast whatever we are doing to the screen. YouTube is a favorite around the house.)

If you don’t use the internet very much or if you are not needing your tv to connect to it at all, then you might not have to purchase a tv that will do that. Though with the way technology is going, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have that anyway.

hand holding a bunch of $20's
Budget

Now we come to the nitty gritty of the subject. Money is always something that is tough for people to think about before they go shopping for something. Think about how much money you want to spend on the tv. Now subtract $50. That’s going to be the sticker price of the tv.

Tv’s are one of those big purchase items that seem to rack up the taxes fast. (We’re talking new car fast.) To make sure that you don’t end up spending too much on your tv or you are shopping outside of your budget without meaning to, calculate the tax on it and take it off your budgeted amount before you set foot in the store.

The best time to buy a tv is either right before school starts back or during the Black Friday events. Black Friday is the obvious time to buy a tv, but as a former retail worker I’ll tell you a little secret. The tv’s that they usually have on sale during Black Friday are usually either 2-3 years older than the rest of the models or they are the absolutely cheapest thing that could be bought in bulk.

Another secret of retail is that the regular tv’s are going to be marked down, too. So, ignore the hoards trying to get the flat screen for $100 and go straight for the normal tv display. There will be a cut in the prices in the days ahead of the main event so you can usually get these deals without having to risk your neck.

Back to School is the other time to get a great deal on a tv. Or rather about a month before back to school shopping. Back to School is one of the times when the warehouse and storerooms of every store are absolutely brimming with stuff. They need to make room. Tv’s are big. See where I’m going here. The older models will be marked down significantly. And don’t even consider going for a rent to own situation. You will end up paying twice or three times what something is worth. Just ignore those brightly colored papers when they come in the mail.

TV Particulars

When you are looking at buying a tv, there are 4 technical specifications that you will need to keep in mind. Let’s look at each one of them.

resolution comparison chart
Resolution

The first and the one that will get people confused the most is resolution. Resolution is how clear the picture is. So, the higher the resolution, the better the picture quality. Honestly, with today’s market, you shouldn’t be even looking at anything that’s lower than a 1080p. That’s high definition quality picture.

There are better ones available, but 1080p is going to be the most common type that you are going to see. It is also going to be where the biggest price range is going to be. The next level up is 4K. If you own a PlayStation Pro, a 4K player or you are trying to future proof your purchase, this is where you need to look.

Honestly, I think that the 1080p tv’s are going to be around for a while. The simple fact is that its going to take a while for the supporting devices to catch up. 4K is amazing. It looks great, but if you don’t have something that will play media in the 4K quality, you’re missing out on the best part of the deal.

Just like it took a while for everything to go from VCR to DVD and Blu-Ray, I think it will take a long time for 4K devices to become commonplace enough for the 1080p tv to go by the wayside. Also, there is a newer one called 8K? Yeah, nothing is going to play that high of quality yet.

105 inch tv with guy standing beside it
Size

When you used to buy a tv, you used to make sure that the resolution and the size were matching up so that you didn’t have a grainy picture the further away from the tv you sat. Now its not so much of an issue. A 75” tv is going to look the same as a 32” at any distance.

The new higher resolution tv’s have taken care of that problem and given rise to “bigger is better” when it comes to tv’s. Just remember, this thing has to fit in the space that you have marked for it. (It also has to fit in your vehicle.) So be sure that the size is not too large for what you are needing.

browsing on a smart tv
Smart Functionality

The newest trend in tv’s is to make them “smart”. What that basically means is that we are emulating our smart phones on a larger scale. These tv’s come with many different options that range from simply being able to connect to the internet to having independent apps that you can load and install on them just like on your smart phone.

All of the smart tv’s will automatically connect to your WIFI network and most come with preloaded apps that allow you to use streaming services and listen to internet radio. Our tv came with YouTube, pandora and Hulu preloaded. Some of the better models will allow you to add apps to them.

Whether you want a smart tv or not, you may end up having to get one. If you don’t connect it to the internet it will function just like an old tv. If you love technology or you’re feeling adventurous, connect it to your WIFI and see what kind of fun you can find.

oled tv
Lighting

So, there are two types of tv’s that you will see on the shelves this year. One will be an LED and the other will be OLED. And you may think to yourself, “Self, why is the one with “O” in front of it so much more expensive than the other one?” Well, I’ll answer that for you.

LED and OLED tv’s both use the same basic technology. They both use LED lights to light up their screens. There is one major difference and that is the way that they light the screen.

LED tv’s use LED lights to light the screen from the outside of the screen inwards. So, you have one strip of lights underneath the screen that lights the entire tv.

OLED tv’s use the same LED lights, but there are a lot more of them and they are positioned behind each pixel of the screen. So, the entire screen adjusts the light of each pixel individually. This makes a very crisp picture and gives you a higher picture quality. It also makes it incredibly expensive.

I hope your media room is amazing that you were able to purchase the perfect tv.

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