TV backlights explained: Edge-lit vs. full array vs. Mini-LED
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There’s an unsung hero in your living room, a piece of technology that has been steadily advancing for years, providing better and better picture quality and more immersive entertainment, and it’s one you may not even know exists. I’m talking, of course, about the backlight in your TV.
What’s a backlight? Well, it’s the light source that is situated directly behind the LCD panel of the majority of TVs. It’s what makes the screen glow, what gives bright colors their vibrancy, and increasingly, what gives dark shadows their depth.
TV backlights have undergone a surprising amount of change in the last few years, and knowing how this feature works, and what your options are will go a long way in helping you get a better than average TV for a lower than average price.
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Basic LCD TV anatomy
(Image credit: LCD panels require a separate backlight to illumnate the display. Credit: LG)
There’s a little more to the glowing panel of an LCD TV than you might expect. The LCD panel offers the shape and color components of an image, but it doesn’t actually produce any light of its own. And without light to produce the colors we see and project the image outward to the viewer, an LCD TV wouldn’t be worth much. Enter the humble backlight.
Behind the LCD panel is a backlight, and between the backlight and the LCD panel are usually a few layers of polarized filters, backlight diffusers, and other optical layers designed to turn this collection of tech components into a sharper viewable image.
The details will vary from one manufacturer or mode to the next, but the fundamentals that that technology is based on remain the same.
You’ll have an LCD panel to provide much of the image content, and a backlight behind it to provide the light that makes that LCD panel visible and the colors vivid. But that backlight has undergone a lot of changes over time — several just within recent years. And a lot of the improvements we’ve seen in modern TVs can be traced to the humble backlight.
A brief history of TV backlight
For the first several decades of consumer TVs, there was no need for a backlight. Cathode ray tube (CRT) technology doesn’t need one, because it is a light source unto itself. Plasma screen TVs used the same sort of phosphorescence that CRTs used, meaning that they were also capable of emitting their own light.
But with the advent of LCD-based flat screen TVs, the need arose for illumination, and originally that meant cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL), a technology that’s similar to fluorescent and neon lighting. But because these lamps generate heat that can damage a display and aren’t terrible energy-efficient, they’ve pretty much disappeared from today’s TVs.
Instead, they were replaced by one of the biggest innovations in modern TV technology: LED backlighting. With this change, TV manufacturers started calling LCD TVs with LED backlight “LED TVs” to differentiate them from the older CCFL-lit models. But with the last CCFL TVs going off the market a decade ago, it’s just as likely that TV makers have kept the LED nomenclature around to blur the distinction between LCD TVs and OLED panels, which use a very different (and largely superior) display technology.
Since then, LED backlighting has been refined in a number of ways, and there are several options on the market in today’s TVs.
Modern backlighting: Local dimming and HDR
(Image credit: TCL)
Today’s TVs use a number of backlighting methods, which we’ll discuss below, but the biggest change has been the introduction of discrete backlighting zones. Instead of illuminating the entire screen, the LED backlights of a TV can be addressed individually, meaning that they can be turned on or off, dimmed or brightened as needed to provide brighter or darker portions of the TV picture.
You may not know much about the innovation of local dimming, but you’ve probably heard of the feature it enables: High dynamic range or HDR. It’s one of the best features on today’s TVs, and one we recommend paying attention to when shopping for a TV. (Check out our articles What is HDR TV, and why does it matter? and What Is Dolby Vision? to learn more.)
With local dimming zones allowing variable brightness to different sections of the display, new media includes additional metadata, beyond simple video and sound. This data describes the brightness and backlighting scheme for a given scene or frame of content. While that metadata may fall under different format names, like HDR10 or Dolby Vision, the essentials are the same — describing how those dimmable backlights should behave to produce a richer image.
There are different formats with varying degrees of granularity, but the end result is that modern media takes this additional brightness control into account, just as it would color and multi-channel sound.
But there’s a catch. Not every form of backlight offers the same level of control. As a result, not every TV has the same level of capability, even if it supports the same HDR formats.
And it all comes down to what type of backlighting is used.
Essential backlight technologies
(Image credit: LG)
Edge-lit displays illuminate the LCD panel by setting a row of LEDs along the top and bottom edges of a screen, or ringing the perimeter of the TV frame with LED lights. This light is then distributed across the back of the LCD panel with a special diffuser light guide, a semi-transparent sheet of plastic that allows the light from the LED in the TV bezel to illuminate a larger portion of the display.
It’s a very cost effective way to light a TV, since it uses the least amount of LEDs. It also offers some level of dynamic backlight control for HDR support. On sets that are equipped to do so, portions of the edge lighting strips can be darkened or dimmed to provide deeper blacks, or brightened to accentuate brighter portions of the screen. However, since they don’t directly light the LCD panel from behind, the effect is considerably muted when compared to other backlight technologies.
Because these edge-mounted LEDs can be individually dimmed or brightened, edge lit TVs can offer some measure of dynamic backlight control for high dynamic range content. This can be done in two ways.
(Image credit: VESA)
First, the LEDs at the top and bottom of the display can be dimmed to alter the brightness in a vertical stripe, from the top to bottom of the display. This divides the display into 8-16 distinct dimming zones.
(Image credit: VESA)
Second, top and bottom rows of LEDs can be dimmed independently, effectively doubling the number of dimming zones.
Both of these methods suffer from the use of broad, diffuse dimming zones, which mute the HDR effect considerably, and will often illuminate unwanted portions of the display, an effect called haloing.
Samsung AU8000 LED 4K Smart TV
Samsung’s cheapest models often feature edge lighting, and the Samsung AU8000 is a prime example of this. The TV’s high contrast ratio offers pretty good clarity and sharpness, but the lack of local dimming means that HDR content won’t look as good as it should, and you’ll see some noticeable elevated black levels.
A variation on edge lighting developed by Samsung and used in some Samsung QLED TVs is called dual LED. Instead of using a single color backlight for the TV, Samsung uses a combination of cool blue and warm yellow LED lights, and alternates between them based on the content of the scene to offer a modest improvement in picture quality.
Samsung Q70T QLED TV (2020 model)
Samsung uses dual LED backlight as a half-step between edge lighting and direct-lit LED backlight in it’s better affordable QLED sets, and it shows. The alternating color temperatures do offer some improvement over basic edge lighting, but the result is still a less impressive picture, even with Samsung’s impressive QLED display. Check out our full Samsung Q70T QLED TV (2020 model) review for more.
Direct lit LED
Direct lit LED backlighting uses LED lighting across the back of the TV, directly behind the LCD panel, providing a fairly uniform amount of light across the screen. It also allows for a brighter picture, since it uses more LEDs, and is able to utilize more of the light coming from those LEDs.
However, an all-white back light alone has its limitations. Because the entire LCD panel is lit uniformly, there’s little to no dynamic range offered by the display.
One common problem caused by this uniform backlight approach is that darker portions of the display are still illuminated, resulting in black portions of the screen appearing grey, a phenomenon called “elevated black levels.” It’s especially noticeable on letterboxed movies, which will have a distinct unwanted glow in the black bars above and below the picture.
Toshiba C350 Fire TV (2021 model)
The Toshiba C350 is one of the better Amazon Fire smart TVs we’ve reviewed, but the direct LED backlight is something of a double-edged sword. It’s better and brighter than a basic edge-lit LED backlight, and picture is better as a result, but the lack of local dimming means that – despite the TV’s support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats – HDR content just doesn’t look very good.
(Image credit: TCL)
Full array with local dimming (FALD)
The next refinement for LED backlight is full array backlight with local dimming. This breaks up the backlight array of direct LED lighting, and separates it into multiple zones. These zones each illuminate a portion of the screen, and can be individually brightened or dimmed depending on the content in that section of the display.
(Image credit: VESA)
This dynamic backlighting allows a TV to deliver deeper shadows, brighter highlights, and more vivid color. If you’ll forgive the pun, this is where HDR content really shines.
Local dimming zones have become fairly common on TVs across the price spectrum, and more premium TVs have differentiated themselves by offering a greater number of backlighting zones with smaller, more tightly controlled light, which can minimize light blooms and haloing to provide better HDR performance and contrast.
TCL 5-Series Roku TV (S535)
When it comes to value in TVs, the TCL name should be one of the first things you look for. The TCL 5-Series Roku TV (S535) is a great example of this, offering a QLED screen with full-array local dimming backlight that matches some of the best mid-range TVs, but at a lower price. The result is great picture quality and solid HDR performance.
(Image credit: TCL)
Local dimming has been further refined with the introduction of mini-LEDs. By shrinking the LED size down to about one-fifth the size – mini-LEDs measure 0.008-inch (200 microns) across – more LEDs can be packed into the backlight panel, and much smaller dimming zones to be used.
Where a standard LED backlight offers dozens of backlighting zones, mini-LED offers hundreds, and individual mini-LEDs can number in the thousands for a larger TV. More LEDs translate into brighter backlight, for a brighter more vivid picture, as well as smaller lighting zones to reduce haloing.
(Image credit: TCL)
The result is even more granular control of the backlight, with performance improvements in both overall contrast and HDR performance.
Models from Samsung, TCL, and LG all utilize mini LED backlighting for its superior performance, and the combination of mini-LED and QLED color enhancement offers some of the best TV picture quality that’s ever been available.
Learn more about mini-LED technology in our article Year of the mini-LED TV: Samsung, LG and TCL getting this huge upgrade.
Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV
When it comes to the several TVs on the market that have mini-LED backlight, the Samsung Neo QLED takes the top spot, holding the top position among the best TVs we’ve reviewed. It’s a great TV for many reasons, but the impeccable backlight and HDR performance of the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV makes it one of the best LCD TVs we’ve ever seen.
(Image credit: LG)
Ultimately, the best backlight is no backlight at all. This can be achieved in one of two ways: With current OLED displays or micro-LED technology, the latter of which isn’t yet available to regular consumers.
OLED displays have individual pixels that light up without the need for a separate illumination source, creating a self-emissive display panel that doesn’t need any sort of backlight.
Because illumination can be controlled at the level of individual pixels, OLED technology offers the highest level of contrast and HDR performance, with no light blooming, and true black reproduction as individual pixels go dark.
Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED TV
Sony’s excellent OLED TVs highlight how awesome OLED can really be, with category-leading picture quality and cutting edge technologies that make the most of the premium TV technology. The Editor’s Choice Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED TV does this in spades, providing an excellent premium OLED experience.
(Image credit: Lextar)
Shrinking mini-LEDs down even smaller, you get micro-LED. Measuring as small as 50μm — about 0.002 inches across — micro-LEDs are 1/100th the size of a conventional LED. That’s small enough to cluster them together for individual pixels, creating another form of self-emissive display. The first micro-LED TVs are on sale now, but with prices in the tens of thousands of dollars, they’re not really something the average consumer would even consider.
You can get a more detailed explanation of mini-LED technology in our guide Micro-LED vs. Mini-LED: What’s the difference? or read Micro-LED vs. OLED TV: Which TV tech will win? to see how the two leading self-emissive technologies compare.
Samsung MicroLED TV
Known for a long time as simply “The Wall” Samsung’s first micro-LED TVs are coming this year, and are available for pre-order… in Korea. We’ve seen these displays in person, and they are astonishingly good, but between the wall-sized screens necessary for 4K resolution and the mortgage-sized price tag, it may be several years before this is a viable technology for the average TV shopper.
TV backlighting: What it means for you
All of this information is very interesting (at least, to some of us TV nerds), but you’re probably wondering what this actually means for you.
The bottom line is pretty simple: Better backlight will translate into better picture quality.
- Edgelit and direct backlight – Good
- Full array with local dimming – Better
- Self-immissive displays – Best
But there’s more than one way to approach full array with local dimming, because TVs will offer different numbers of dimming zones and local domain can be achieved with either standard LEDs or mini LEDs.
The rule of thumb here is simple: More backlighting zones are better, and many LED gives you the most backlighting zones.
And there’s a direct relationship between backlight quality and TV price, so what is the best option when you don’t want to pay an extra $1,000 for the category-leading quality of OLED – even the affordable Vizio OLED TV is $1,199 – or shell out tens of thousands for a giant micro-LED TV?
For most people, we recommend looking for a TV with mini-LED, like the Editor’s Choice Samsung Neo QLED QN90A, or the more affordable TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635). Mini LED backlighting hits the sweet spot for affordability and improved backlight performance. If you want better than average backlight control without spending the extra money for an old TV, a mini LED TV is the way to go.
Our favorite TVs
TCL 6-Series 55R635 (2020)
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TCL 4-Series Roku TV (50S435)
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Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he led the site’s TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.
TV Buying Guide for 2023
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- Home theater
Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
We’ve updated this article to make it current, and we’ve added a glossary of TV tech terms.
TV technology has advanced to the point where even affordable TVs can look really good, but that advancement has marched in step with an ever-longer glossary of terms describing how modern TVs are equipped. You may feel like you need a research grant before you can even begin to decide on a new TV.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. This buying guide will explain all the jargon and answer the important questions. When you’re ready to buy, we have TV recommendations suitable for a variety of budgets and situations.
The best TVs in every major category
- TV features, defined
- LCD vs. OLED: Which is better?
- Should you buy a 4K TV?
- What to look for in an HDR TV
- Do you need a smart TV? What if you don’t want one?
- What size TV should you get?
- Where to place the TV
- Other things you might need
- Additional resources
TV features, defined
Here are some of the most common terms you’ll see in our TV reviews, and why they matter.
4K or Ultra HD (UHD): A TV with a 4K resolution has at least four times as many pixels as an HDTV (3840×2160 pixels compared with a maximum resolution of 1920×1080 pixels). The term “Ultra HD” can be synonymous with 4K, but it often refers to video content that combines 4K resolution with other new performance technologies such as HDR and wide color gamut (defined below).
LCD: This stands for liquid crystal display, the most common kind of television technology. LCD TVs shine an LED backlight through a panel of liquid crystal, a malleable substance that reacts to electricity, opening or closing when jolted. The specific details of the opening and closing are dependent upon the arrangement of the pixels: The most common LCD arrangements are vertical alignment (VA) and in-plane switching (IPS), with the former tending to produce higher contrast and the latter tending to produce wider viewing angles. All “LED” TVs are really LCD TVs, as are TVs labeled “QLED” or “ULED.”
OLED: An organic light-emitting diode TV creates light inside each individual pixel without using a backlight and can dim each pixel individually all the way down to black, which LCD TVs can’t do. This tech gives an OLED TV an infinite contrast ratio and other benefits that help create an overall better-looking image, but at considerable additional cost.
Full-array local dimming backlight: This term refers to an LCD TV technology in which the LED backlight sits behind the LCD panel and has individual zones that can turn on and off, depending on the content. Such TVs are usually larger and more expensive to build and design, and more zones cost more. However, TVs with full-array local dimming typically provide the best LCD picture quality by improving contrast ratios and shadow detail.
Mini-LEDs: Every LCD TV made today uses LEDs to produce the light that shines through the LCD panel. Mini-LEDs are much smaller than traditional LEDs, so TV makers can install more of them and thus create more zones of local dimming, producing less blooming or glow around bright objects. Mini-LEDs are completely different from Micro LED, an available (though very expensive) TV technology that employs individual red, green, and blue LEDs to produce an image without needing an LCD panel at all.
High dynamic range (HDR): High dynamic range lets a TV display much brighter highlights while retaining deep blacks, although only with HDR content. Whereas standard dynamic range (SDR) content has a peak brightness of around 100 nits (defined below), high-end HDR sets can have highlights that exceed 1,500 nits. This feature drastically improves contrast ratios and provides a more dynamic image in which bright objects (the sun, fire, a photon torpedo) really jump off the screen. HDR10 is the standard format that all HDR-capable TVs support. HDR10 content contains metadata (or information about how the image should be presented) only for the movie as a whole, while the more advanced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats have metadata for each individual scene—so the TV can better optimize the image as it changes.
Nits: Also called candelas per square meter (cd/m²), this unit of luminance measures how much light a TV can produce. Previously, TVs could output 200 to 300 nits, and SDR content was graded and mastered with 100 nits as the standard. With HDR, content is mastered with 1,000, 4,000, or 10,000 nits as the standard. So the more nits an HDR TV can display, the more accurately it can display the highlights in HDR material without having to reduce the brightness of the highlights or clip them.
Wide color gamut (WCG): A color gamut is the range of colors that a certain piece of content or a display device can or should reproduce. Ultra HD video content has a wider color gamut than standard HDTV content; right now, most UHD content is mastered with the same DCI/P3 color gamut used in theatrical cinema (the ultimate goal is the even larger Rec. 2020 color gamut). This expanded color gamut allows a TV to display richer reds, blues, and greens than ever before.
Quantum dots: This color-enhancing technology is primarily found in LCD TVs, though some OLED TVs now have them, as well. Quantum dots are microscopic nano-crystals that, when struck with blue light, produce vivid red or green light (depending upon the size of the crystal). Quantum dots are the primary technology that allows LCD TVs to produce the wide color gamut required to display Ultra HD content properly, as they greatly increase the color saturation of red and green.
HDMI 2.1: The most recent version of the HDMI connection that links most home TVs and sources, HDMI 2.1 adds support for 8K displays, automatic low-latency mode for improved gaming, eARC for better audio when you’re using Audio Return Channel, variable refresh rate for syncing the TV’s refresh rate to a gaming console to avoid stuttering, and dynamic metadata support. For more about HDMI 2.1, read our blog post.
Refresh rate: All digital displays (including TVs) have what’s called a refresh rate, measured in hertz (Hz), shorthand for cycles per second. A TV’s refresh rate refers to how quickly it displays new incoming video information on a nanosecond-to-nanosecond basis. Although there are many possible refresh rates, most TVs come with either a 60 Hz refresh rate (meaning 60 screen refreshes per second) or a 120 Hz refresh rate (120 screen refreshes per second). A 120 Hz TV offers advantages when you’re watching 24p content (definition below), and it tends to produce less input lag and motion blur. In 2022, some manufacturers introduced 144 Hz TVs meant to appeal specifically to gamers, but the majority of TVs still have a 60 Hz or 120 Hz refresh rate.
24p: With few exceptions, movies in a theater display at 24 frames per second, abbreviated as 24p, which gives movies that “cinematic” look.
Judder: This term refers to a slightly jerky motion that can occur when 24p film content appears on a TV with a 60 Hz refresh rate. In such situations, to make 24 frames match up to the 60 Hz display, half of the frames appear two times and the other half appear three times. This display technique causes judder, which is most noticeable on panning shots. Some 120 Hz displays avoid this effect by repeating each film frame five times, whereas some 60 Hz panels run films at 48 Hz to show each frame twice.
Motion smoothing: Motion smoothing, sometimes called MEMC (Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation), refers to a TV’s ability to intelligently create new frames to create smoother-looking or less juddery motion. Most modern TVs can artificially increase their refresh rates to smooth out fast or difficult sequences, but the efficacy of this motion smoothing is often dependent upon the TV’s native refresh rate. Motion smoothing is also the cause of the “soap opera effect,” in which cinematic/24p content looks more like a daytime soap opera due to the insertion of unnecessary frames. The best TVs come with multiple motion-smoothing presets, and some even allow you to fine-tune the degree of judder reduction and frame interpolation employed. When used correctly, motion smoothing can make content like sports and nature documentaries look more realistic, but we prefer that it be turned off for cinematic TV shows, movies, and video games.
LCD vs. OLED: Which is better?
If every buyer had an ideal viewing environment and a bottomless budget, we would always recommend buying an OLED TV. The pixel-by-pixel lighting in OLED TVs allows them to achieve much better contrast than LCD TVs can produce, and they also offer superior off-angle viewing.
But you might be better off buying an LCD TV for several reasons, with affordability and variety being at the top of the list. Whereas the average 65-inch OLED TV costs close to $2,000, truly impressive 65-inch LCD TVs are available for around $1,000—sometimes less. And LCD TVs come in a lot more screen sizes.
The best LCD TVs also achieve much higher brightness than the average OLED TV can reach (though advancements in 2023 may be changing that), so if your viewing environment is particularly bright and sunny, you might prefer an LCD TV that can combat the surrounding ambient light.
More about LCD vs. OLED
Should you buy a 4K TV?
A 4K TV has four times as many pixels per inch as a 1080p HDTV. Depending on the screen size, this difference typically isn’t noticeable if you’re sitting more than 6 feet away, but this graphic represents what you might see if you look more closely. Illustration: Wirecutter
Nearly all new TVs over 40 inches, even inexpensive models, have a 4K resolution. Some premium TVs have an 8K resolution, but we don’t think those are yet worth their higher prices for most people, due to a lack of content. You can still find smaller-screen TVs with a 1080p or 720p HD resolution, but they are often the most value-oriented TVs in a company’s lineup and don’t include the most advanced technology and features.
If your new 4K TV is big enough, or if you’re sitting close enough, you will see a significant difference in detail compared with an older HDTV—as long as you’re watching 4K content, which is widely available on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Netflix (premium tier only), and YouTube, as well as through some cable and satellite services and on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
That said, a 4K resolution on its own doesn’t make a huge difference in picture quality. It’s only when TV makers add features like HDR and wide color gamut that today’s 4K TVs distinguish themselves from older HDTVs.
What to look for in an HDR TV
It’s impossible to show the difference between HDR and non-HDR TVs on a non-HDR screen (such as the one you’re likely viewing this image on), but this dramatized illustration should give you an idea of what to expect. Illustration: Wirecutter
An HDR-capable TV playing HDR content can reproduce a greater range of brightness than has ever been possible with TVs. Add support for a wide color gamut (WCG) for deeper reds and blues, as well as more vibrant greens, and an HDR TV can be a big improvement over your current TV.
But not all HDR TVs are created equal. There’s no minimum performance standard for a TV to advertise basic HDR support, so some TV manufacturers are bending the truth a bit when they call their TVs “HDR. ” Supporting HDR simply means that a TV is capable of understanding HDR metadata—that is, it can tell that a part of the screen is supposed to be extra bright, for example, or a more vibrant green. But that doesn’t mean the screen itself is physically capable of becoming extra bright or displaying that vibrant green. As a result, some TVs might display an image that looks no different than a non-HDR, standard dynamic range (SDR) picture.
To properly display HDR, an LCD/LED TV needs to have local dimming. OLED panels are all capable of displaying HDR because each pixel produces its own brightness and can individually turn off and on—in effect, it’s like having millions of dimming zones instead of a few dozen. Because we test our TV picks rigorously, we can confirm that the TVs we recommend are capable of showing the increased brightness and colors of HDR and WCG.
This GIF shows the same TV with local dimming turned off and on. Photos: Chris Heinonen
You’ll encounter several different HDR formats that a TV might support. HDR10 is the standard format that all HDR-capable TVs must support. HDR10 content contains metadata (or information about how the image should be presented) only for the entire movie as a whole, whereas the more advanced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats have metadata for each individual scene, so the TV can better optimize the image as it changes. HLG is the live-broadcast HDR standard, and HGiG is a set of guidelines for HDR gaming.
HDR shows and movies are available on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and through streaming providers like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Netflix. But older Blu-ray discs and most cable and satellite TV signals don’t currently support HDR.
Do you need a smart TV? What if you don’t want one?
Photo: Ashley Courter
Pretty much all TVs today are smart TVs, which is to say that they can connect directly to your Wi-Fi in order to access built-in streaming services such as Disney+ or Netflix. You might like this feature because it means you don’t have to buy an additional media streamer, such as a Google Chromecast with Google TV or a Roku Streaming Stick, unless you prefer its interface or want access to services the TV doesn’t support.
But we also hear from readers who don’t want a smart TV, whether for privacy reasons or because they already own a streaming device they like. In reality, any TV that lacks smart features (if you can find one at all) probably isn’t worth buying, as it’s likely to be an older or bargain model that offers marginal picture quality. Plus, smart TVs readily receive updates that improve performance or correct problems. But if you really don’t want a smart TV, consider a computer monitor or projector instead of a TV—or just buy a smart TV and don’t connect it to the internet.
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What size TV should you get?
Think of buying a TV as you would buying any piece of furniture. It needs to fit wherever you plan to put it, and ideally it should look proportional to the furnishings and the surrounding wall. A 32-inch TV would look odd floating on a large bare wall, for example, while a 75-inch jumbotron could overpower a cramped living room. Just get a tape measure and check.
TV sizes are measured along the diagonal of the screen, so when measuring your space make sure to use the width, height, and depth dimensions listed for the TV. If you’re still uncertain, this web app from FlatpanelsHD can help you visualize TV sizes in a variety of stock environments. If you want to get fancy, augmented-reality apps can plop a 3D rendering of a TV on top of your existing furniture.
If you have the space, a 55- to 65-inch TV is a comfortable size when you’re sitting from 6 to 10 feet away, which is typically the case for a living room setup. A TV of that size is big enough to create an immersive viewing experience with the lights off, but it’s not so large that it’ll completely dominate a modest-size living room. On the other hand, no avid TV watcher has ever regretted getting a larger TV. So if you have room and can comfortably afford a larger size, go for it.
If you want to go really big, consider a projector instead of a TV. The setup is slightly more complicated, and you need to be able to control the lighting in your room to get the best-looking image, but 100-plus inches of screen for the price of a nice TV (or far less) is quite compelling. And if you have a roll-up screen, you can put a projector system away when you’re not using it so you’re not left with a black rectangle in your living space at all times.
Where to place the TV
Mounting your TV to a wall is a great way to prevent TV tip-overs, but not everyone can (or wants to) drill holes in their wall. If you know that you’ll be setting your new TV on a piece of furniture, you should consider what kind of stand it comes with.
Many TVs have two feet spaced widely apart, which requires you to place them on a surface that’s nearly as wide as the screen itself. Some TVs still have center-mounted pedestal stands, which allow you to place a larger screen on a smaller piece of furniture, such as an end table, but those designs are becoming increasingly rare among more-affordable TVs.
If you don’t like a particular TV’s stand design, you can find third-party tabletop and floorstanding TV mounts that allow you to adjust the TV’s height or add a swivel function.
The wide-stance leg design (top), which is now more common than the single-pedestal design (bottom), requires a wider surface to stand on. Photos: Ashley Courter
Other things you might need
Once you’ve settled on a TV, there are other categories you may want or need to research and browse, whether you hope to wall-mount your TV, want the best sources of content to watch, or plan to secure better audio quality.
Want to learn more? Check out these TV-related articles.
This article was edited by Adrienne Maxwell and Grant Clauser.
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How to choose a TV in 2022: current advice – LG MAGAZINE Russia magazine
The modern technology market surprises with its variety and novelty of technologies. The TV range is no exception. Everyone has this device in the house and, most often, not even in the same room. Therefore, the question of how to choose a TV in 2022 can be considered relevant. Moreover, devices from different manufacturers and with different technical characteristics and parameters are presented on the market.
There is no perfect formula for buying the right TV. As with smartphones, you can’t just look at a TV’s spec sheet and see how it will perform. And even checking the TV in the showroom will not give you complete information about how the TV will work in your home with your conditions.
To avoid overpaying for a TV, but also to buy the most functional model exactly for your criteria and your home, you will need to take into account a number of parameters. Not in all cases, the question of price will come first. After all, you need to understand that you have to pay for a high-quality and functional TV. Therefore, in order to choose the best option for your home, you need to study the key functions of modern TVs, and decide for yourself which technical parameters are especially important to you.
To choose the right TV in 2022, you need to consider the following specifications:
- TV screen size.
- Matrix and backlight type.
- Screen resolution.
- Sound quality.
- If this is a Smart TV, what operating system is installed.
- Whether the model is equipped with additional functions and interfaces.
Screen size. When choosing a TV model, the manufacturer is important for some consumers, and the screen size is important for others. The dimensions of the TV are very important, because the perception of the picture as a whole and the comfort when viewing depend on them. There is an opinion that the larger the diagonal size of the TV or the screen, the better. In fact, choosing a large screen diagonal is not always good. And in some cases, it can cause visual impairment.
When choosing the diagonal size of the TV, consider the following points:
- Where you plan to install the device.
- What is the distance from the TV to the viewer.
- Room area.
Each TV has a recommended screen distance and an optimal viewing angle. The maximum immersion in what is happening on the screen occurs when the eyes are at the level of the center of the screen or slightly higher, and the diagonal covers 40% of your field of view. According to the classical formula, the optimal distance from the eyes to the TV screen should be approximately 2.5-3 diagonals.
For example, a 17-inch TV is best viewed at a distance of about a meter or a little more, a 32-inch screen at a distance of 2.5 meters. If you decide to stop your choice and purchase a LG TV model with a 70-inch or 80-inch screen, then get ready for the fact that the distance from your eyes to the screen should not be less than five or six meters . Each customer chooses the equipment personally to his taste. Models from 32 inches to 55 inches are considered the most common.
Sensor type and backlight. An important point in the question of how to choose a TV for the home in 2022 is the choice of the type of matrix. Since the quality of the picture and even the price of equipment depend on it.
Popular TV display types in the modern technology market include LCD/LED and OLED/QLED. Most TVs are equipped with LCD / LED matrix (LCD panels). These screens use LEDs to illuminate the LCD display, hence the name. When buying an LCD TV with LED backlighting, be aware that the entire display is illuminated. Some use side-lit panels, where the LEDs are only placed on the edge of the screen.
The backlight in LCD and LED is represented by two types:
- Direct – Direct LED. The backlight of the LCD TV is located behind the matrix, respectively, this allows for uniform illumination over the entire plane of the screen. Also, due to this technology, high-quality local dimming is used, which is used in HDR mode. This service allows you to make the backlight more accurate and gives an overall better color reproduction of the image with greater detail due to the pixels on the display. This feature was once only available on premium models, but now it’s rolling out to budget TVs as well.
- Contour – Edge LED. The LEDs in this case are located along the contour of the screen itself, most often on the left and right sides of the TV. At the same time, quantum dots, which add an additional layer of nanocrystalline dots (pixels), allow the reflection system to distribute the backlight throughout the display and get an image with greater brightness and color. This technology is considered more expensive in price.
Most manufacturers believe that LCD and LED technologies are the future, so they produce more TVs with this matrix. Among the advantages of the technology are:
- Affordable compared to OLED.
- Acceptable thickness and small dimensions.
- Normal screen brightness level.
As for OLED TVs, this is one of the most advanced technologies among TV models. These TVs replace the LCD backlight with a layer of OLEDs that deliver deep blacks and an incredible level of contrast. OLED TVs come in 4K and 8K resolutions and are much more expensive than LED LCD TVs.
OLED TVs do not need additional lighting. Due to this, the manufacturer of these TVs, LG, creates the thinnest models with deep blacks.
The main distinguishing feature of OLED from conventional LED TV is that each pixel can be illuminated separately. This provides a number of advantages:
- Intense black color.
- High sharpness with every self-illuminating pixel.
- Thinner TV than LED.
- Wide viewing angles.
- Thermal stability (operating temperature range is -40 to +70 degrees Celsius).
While LG uses OLED technology, another South Korean manufacturer of appliances and electronics uses QLED technology for its TVs. The key difference between QLED and OLED is the use of nanoparticles, which, depending on their size, can emit different colors when exposed to light.
QLED has good brightness, color rendering and great power saving. At the same time, the technology is also distinguished by the presence of conventional LED backlighting, which is why there is no rich black color. Also, QLED TV models will be thicker than OLED.
TV screen resolution. The resolution of the TV directly affects the clarity of the picture, the absence of a blurred image, and also partly on the level of contrast. The higher the resolution, the better. Modern TVs have four types of resolution:
- HD (1280×720 / 1366×768 pixels). It is more common in inexpensive models or in TVs with a small diagonal.
- Full HD (1920×1080 pixels). Devices with this screen resolution are the most common. Their price is affordable, and the picture quality is average.
- UHD 4K (4096×2160 / 3840×2160 pixels). 4K technology is found in models with a diagonal of over 32 inches. With a resolution of 4K, the image will be better, but the price of such a TV will be higher. The 4K format provides the highest picture clarity.
- UHD 8K (7680×4320 pixels). Representative of the most modern television technologies. The range of TV models that support 8K resolution is not diverse. Their price will be high, so these TV models are not the most affordable.
Contrast. Contrast is written as a ratio (eg 5000:1). It tells how much the white areas on the screen will be brighter than the black ones. For example, in LED TVs the contrast is low, in OLED TVs it will be higher. Many recommend stopping at a model with a ratio of 5000: 1.
To achieve the best picture quality, TV manufacturer LG uses dynamic contrast ratio. Due to this technique, the brightness automatically switches depending on which scene is shown on the screen.
It is difficult to say which is the best TV for this indicator. When choosing a device, it is also important to consider the type of matrix, the diagonal of the TV and, of course, your personal preferences.
Sound quality. Sound quality plays a big role for movie, TV series or music lovers. All TVs with built-in speakers have about the same sound quality and volume. If sound is important to you, but there is no desire to buy an additional home theater or stereo system, then you should choose a TV with a speaker power of 20 watts or more.
Sound check when buying a TV is limited to listening at above average volume. The sound should be without rattling of the case and wheezing of the speakers.
Smart operating system TV . If you want to choose a Smart TV for your home, please note that the operating system also varies depending on the manufacturer. OS options are different: WebOS, Tizen and Android TV. Your choice will depend on personal preferences and the tasks assigned to the device.
Any Smart TV has an operating system with built-in applications through which you can connect to the Internet. This, in turn, allows you to view a variety of content from the network. Internet will be available via Wi-Fi or internet cable.
If the user does not want to overpay for the “smart function”, you can buy a separate Smart set-top box. By connecting the set-top box to the TV, you can download any applications and movies using Wi-Fi or an Internet cable. Your TV performs all the functions of a smart device. The price of the console depends on the manufacturer and other parameters.
Interfaces and other functions. The interface depends on which TV model you have chosen and from which manufacturer. Most often, manufacturers make simple-to-operate equipment, which will not be difficult to deal with. Moreover, the instructions of modern devices describe in detail all the steps, what and in what sequence to connect.
As far as additional options are concerned, the issue of connectors, their types and quantity takes a special place here. You can connect a different number of additional equipment to the TV: a smartphone, laptop, computer, speakers and much more, but it is important that the manufacturer provides for the presence of such connectors on the device. At the same time, in the TV model you have chosen, there must be such ports as:
- HDMI for connecting a game console, speaker system, media player and other devices.
- LAN for wired internet connection.
- USB port for connecting removable storage devices.
- Analog output for stereo sound.
- Antenna input for analogue TV reception.
Other useful additional features include:
- Wi-Fi service for wireless Internet connection.
- Bluetooth for wireless communication with smartphones, laptops, headphones and other devices.
- HDR is a high dynamic range service available mainly on 4K TVs. In films and games with appropriate support, it makes the picture as contrasting and juicy as possible, adjusting the brightness of certain areas of the image.
How to choose a quality TV and what to look for when buying
Buying a new TV is not the most difficult task, but to get a really high-quality and functional device, you need to take into account several nuances when choosing a model.
Table of Contents:
Consider what features and technologies you should pay attention to in order for the TV to successfully perform basic tasks, but at the same time not be too expensive, and for a quick selection of equipment, see our rating of the best models..
The screen size of a new TV directly depends on the room where it will be installed, and the amount of money that the future owner is willing to spend on buying the device. In this case, the universal rule applies: the larger the diagonal, the higher the cost of the TV.
A small appliance with a diagonal of about 32 inches is sufficient for the kitchen. This model will harmoniously fit into the interior of any kitchen and will allow you to comfortably watch movies and TV shows without being distracted from food.
A 42-inch TV is usually purchased for the bedroom. Of course, you can purchase a device with a larger screen diagonal, but usually a bedroom is a small room and it makes no sense to install such TVs in it. But, if the TV is planned to be installed in the living room, you can choose models with a large screen size. This will allow you to watch your favorite movies with the whole family or a large group of friends. In this case, the screen size depends solely on the financial capabilities of the future owner. But experts advise taking into account the distance from which the viewing will be carried out. It is desirable that it be one and a half times larger than the diagonal of the screen. You should not sit close to a large monitor, as this harms your eyesight.
Another important characteristic that determines the picture quality. In outdated models with HD quality, the screen resolution is very modest: 1280×720. Of course, if you plan to use the TV only for watching TV or are going to install it in the kitchen, this will be enough, but for the bedroom and living room it is better to choose a more modern model.
The latest TVs have Full HD (1920×1080) resolution. It is considered universal, as it is suitable for watching TV, movies, and even games on the console. In addition, such devices are cheaper than advanced 4K TVs, but provide acceptable image quality.
Users for whom the quality of the picture plays a decisive role and those who prefer to use paid licensed content should give preference to a TV with 4K UHD (3840×2160). This is the most advanced resolution with high definition and contrast. But you should immediately be prepared for the fact that on such a device it will be possible to view only paid TV channels and licensed films as Blu-Ray.
8K TVs have recently hit the market. We will not consider them, since such devices are very expensive and they can not be found on sale in all stores.
We select a TV by the type of matrix
All modern TVs can be equipped with one of three types of matrix: LED, OLED or QLED.
The most popular and inexpensive devices have an LCD LED matrix with LED backlight. These devices have a thin screen and a long service life, which, combined with low cost, explains their popularity.
OLED TVs entered the market in 2013. They use organic light-emitting diodes, which do not need a separate backlight. Distinctive features of such screens are increased brightness, true black display and large viewing angles. Since each pixel displays a different color and is not backlit from the rest, the colors on the screen look more vibrant and natural.
LED Projector or LED TV
Some manufacturers have achieved amazing heights in screen resolution. We are talking about Nano Cell from LG and QLED from Samsung. These TVs use Quantum Dot crystals, the so-called “quantum dots”. They have the largest color gamut and, accordingly, the price.
Looking at the picture on the screen, the user is unlikely to be able to determine the type of matrix, but if you put TVs of different groups next to each other, the difference will be obvious. Therefore, when choosing a device, they are guided solely by their own comfort and feelings.
Image enhancement technologies
Many TVs are listed in their manuals as HDR compatible (eg HDR10/10+ or HDR Dolby Vision). These image enhancement technologies use sophisticated software algorithms to make the picture brighter and clearer.
If the TV is to be used exclusively for normal TV viewing, there will not be much difference between standard and enhanced picture. The effect of image enhancement will be noticeable only when viewing content in HDR quality. In other words, if a TV is bought only for watching TV, it makes no sense to overpay for picture enhancement technology. In all other cases, this function is really necessary and useful.
Most modern manufacturers strive to make TVs as thin as possible. Ideally, they should resemble a picture and not stand out on the wall at all. Accordingly, it is physically impossible to place high-quality speakers in such a thin case.
In this case, the user has only two options. The first is to buy not the thinnest TV on legs with high-quality built-in speakers. The second is to choose a model with an ultra-thin case and additionally buy a soundbar or speakers for it. It should immediately be clarified that top models are immediately sold with a separate soundbar.
But there are also universal devices. For example, the Samsung UE55NU8000U TV supports Dolby Digital technology and has a built-in subwoofer. Of course, you won’t be able to hang such a TV on the wall, but you won’t have to buy additional acoustics either.
This characteristic is responsible for the image refresh rate, which is extremely important in dynamic scenes. In most models, the frequency is in the range of 50-240 Hz. Accordingly, the higher this indicator, the faster the image on the screen will be updated.
60 Hz is considered the gold standard, but if you plan to use your TV for gaming or watching sports, it is better to choose devices with a frequency of 100 Hz or higher.
If the user is not going to watch movies in 3D, then buying a TV with this function does not make sense. But 3D fans will need more information about this option.
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First of all, it should be mentioned that 3D technology can be passive (polarization) and active (shutter). In the first case, so-called disposable 3D glasses are used for viewing, like those that are given out in movie theaters. In the second, you will need special glasses with LCD shutters. In general, we can say that 3D content looks better on TVs with active 3D, but such devices are much more expensive.
Presence of a curved screen
From a practical point of view, curved screen televisions are of little value. The viewer, who will sit directly in front of the screen, will really feel the maximum immersion effect, but those who sit on the side will not be comfortable watching.
Curved monitors are more in demand in gaming, so it is worth buying them mainly for gamers.
This is a very useful feature and definitely worth paying for. “Smart” TV allows you to listen to music and watch movies directly from the Internet. In addition, you can download various applications and programs to such devices, as well as connect additional gadgets to it.
It is worth noting that the user does not have to decide whether he needs the Smart TV function or not, because now it is available in most TV models. But the operating system will have to be determined. Smart TVs can run Android, Linux, Amazon, webOS, or Tizen. Each system has its own advantages, such as a built-in voice assistant, its own app store, or a built-in online cinema.
There is a category of users who are skeptical about the Smart TV function and consider it absolutely useless. You can convince them only with the help of simple financial calculations: models without Smart TV cost about the same as “smart” budget devices. In other words, when buying a TV without Smart TV, the user simply gets a less functional device for the same money.
Before buying, you should carefully inspect the TV case to make sure that it has enough connectors.