Choosing the Best TV
How we consume TV content has changed drastically over the recent years and with it, television manufacturers also had to adapt to increasing demands for more features. Sure, PC and mobile devices have become great alternatives to watching content at home or on the go, but if you want to get that unparalleled viewing experience, it’s better to still go for a wide-screen TV. Whether it’s your favourite show, the hottest sports in season, or perhaps the latest movie releases, nothing can beat watching it on a big-screen smart TV.
Check out our in-depth guide below on how to choose the best smart TV for your viewing needs!
Latest Deals and Offers
Buying a new television can be a pretty big financial investment – especially with the higher-end large-screen models – but you’ll often find some keen bargains that can save you a substantial amount of money. Keep an eye on this page for the latest offers and deals!
Buying a New Television
It can be a big purchase that’s the home entertainment equivalent of shopping for a new car. Or it can just be a screen that’ll do the job to keep the kids entertained in the spare room. No matter what your reasons for heading out to search for a new TV, you’ll probably have walked into a store, found yourself surrounded by dozens of screens of all sizes, and wondered how to make sense of it all.
Regardless of whether you’re a pensioner or a family with children, or spending thousands of dollars or just a few hundred bucks on a new TV, it’s a device that’s going to be around you for years to come, sitting there staring at you every time you walk into the room. If you buy wisely, that portal to everything from streaming Netflix, to the newest video games, to Foxtel or free-to-air channels will give you years of enjoyment.
Size Is Important!
The screen size you see quoted for TVs is still most often measured in inches, since that’s how screens have been measured since TV began. It’s measured from one corner to the opposite corner – the actual diagonal size of the screen. It wasn’t all that long ago that a so-called “big screen” TV was a heavy square box with a 29-inch screen size. Needless to say, times have changed just a bit. These days, a 30” screen would be considered a bare minimum for lounge room use, with larger sizes far more common. And they can get big. Samsung unveiled a 292-inch screen overseas recently, and you can walk into a store right now and buy an 85-inch screen for a lot less money than you’d expect. But how big is too big?
If you’re looking for a TV for the home’s family living area or something convenient for someone who rents an apartment and may be soon relocating, you probably don’t want the TV screen to dominate the entire room – but you also don’t want to have a screen so small that everyone has to gather around it to watch it. We’d recommend screen sizes ranging from 49 to 55 inches – they’re a great balance between price and screen size. It’s tempting to move up to 65-inch – and there’s nothing wrong with that if your living space is big enough, except for the price. That extra 10 diagonal inches can often double the price of comparable models from the same brand.
Oh, and don’t be fooled when you’re in the store. When you’re amongst all those TVs playing video at the same time, a 55-inch screen looks a lot smaller than it will when it’s in your living room at home!
Bear in mind that most brand-name TVs of 49 inches and up will be able to display 4K video these days, but you need to be fairly close to the screen to see the benefits of 4K until you get to the larger screen sizes.
What Type of Screen Should You Get?
There’s a whole sea of letters that confront you in a store’s TV department – LED, LCD, QLED, OLED… what does it all mean? Not surprisingly, it’s a lot less complicated than it sounds. Those letters tell you what type of screen technology a TV uses – but it’s not always the whole story. Let’s quickly run down the basics – there are actually only two screen types that are referred to with these.
LED, LCD, QLED
All of these are used to tell you that the TV uses an LCD screen – short for Liquid Crystal Display (the same as the display on most smartphones and tablets). The picture is created using electronic magic on a flat surface that’s lit from behind – and the light that shines through the screen produces the picture. That light used to be produced by fluorescent tubes, but these days most TVs use much less power-hungry LEDs (similar to those that produce light in a bike lamp or a penlight torch).
The big point of difference is how many of those LEDs are used, where they’re placed and how they’re used. Cheaper TVs will just place lines of LEDs around the edges of the screen and use a “diffuser” to spread the light across the screen. More advanced ones will put a grid of hundreds of LEDs behind the entire image, and be able to change the brightness of each one individually. That’s called “Full Array Local Dimming” and if you’re buying a LCD-based TV, you want this if you can afford it. You’ll be rewarded by a picture with deeper blacks rather than that “dark grey” that cheaper LCD screens will display.
And “QLED”? That’s a Samsung-specific LCD variant that produces a superb picture.
This is the TV type that stands alone – it’s a completely different technology from anything else on the market. OLED screens are made up of literally millions of tiny LEDs, one for each pixel (or “dot”) on the screen – and they all emit their own light. An OLED screen is the only type capable of displaying black as total black, and as a result these TVs have stunning, almost cinema-like picture quality that’s a cut above anything else you can buy. They’re also incredibly responsive screens, so they’re great for video gamers – and they’re so thin that LG even makes one they describe as “wallpaper”.
But OLED is not necessarily the TV for you. For starters, OLED screens are expensive – size for size, they’re always going to cost substantially more, and the bigger an OLED screen gets the faster its price jumps up.
And OLED screens are also prone to a phenomenon called “burn in” – when an image that’s stayed on the screen for a long time ends up permanently visible on it. If you watch a lot of a single channel with the same logo in the corner 24/7, that can be a problem (though in our experience, with the varied content most people watch it’s generally not an issue).
OLED screens are especially great for content made in HDR (High Dynamic Range) which includes everything from Netflix and YouTube to video games and 4K Blu-ray discs. Well-done HDR on an OLED TV will absolutely amaze you.
Apps Away! The Best TVs for Streaming
While boring old regular broadcast TV is something that any television can deliver for you, no matter what the price, the way most of us get our entertainment these days is via streaming. Australia has had a phenomenally fast take-up of Netflix and the home-grown streaming service Stan, with other paid services like Binge, Amazon Prime Video and the hugely popular sports streaming service Kayo catching up. Add YouTube on top of that and you’ve got such a vibrant choose-your-own-TV-schedule system you’ll likely forget the broadcast channels even exist.
And then there’s the free-to-air networks’ own catch-up apps helping to make their networks superfluous. TVs with Freeview Plus built in can stream catch-up direct from each channel’s Freeview interface, but for user-friendliness you can’t beat a proper, dedicated app.
Enter smart TVs – basically big-screen TVs with small computers powering them, complete with an operating system and the ability to install and update apps. What you actually get will depend on who makes your TV, as each brand uses a different approach and different interfaces.
Last audited 29 November 2020
A special version of Google’s Android phone/tablet operating system that’s designed especially for big-screen TVs, Android TV is versatile and well supported with apps – but it’s arguably not the most user-friendly system out there. Extensively used across most of the Sony product line, amongst others, it’s also found on stand-alone streaming devices like the Foxtel Now box and Nvidia Shield. Android TV is tightly integrated with Google’s ecosystem (as you’d expect) but has a huge library of apps for all the major streaming services. Its clean, modern interface is great, but it can take a few too many button presses to find the app you want.
Beware some ultra-cheap TVs that say they use Android – but not Android TV. Yes, there are TVs out there that use the phone/tablet version of Android. You want to avoid those.
WebOS and SmartHub
The brand-specific operating systems for LG and Samsung TVs respectively, both of these are custom-designed by the manufacturers to work with their TVs’ unique features, but really take a fairly similar approach. The great thing about them is that app access is usually only a button or two away, with LG’s “magic” remote even providing a kind of “air mouse” you can use to quickly navigate your way to content.
They both do the job well, with Samsung’s SmartHub going further by acting as a control center for smart appliances in your home. Yes, you can control your fridge from your TV, just like we’re sure someone has always wanted!
App selection is more limited than on Android TV, but all the big players are there.
The Best Broadband Plans for Streaming TV
With your shiny new TV all set up and ready to go, and a world of 4K streaming content at your disposal via Netflix, YouTube and more, you’re going to want a broadband plan that can deliver the goods when it comes to 4K streaming without the pain of buffering.
For sheer peace of mind, a plan with unlimited data is almost a must – that way, you can just stream stuff whenever you like and never have to worry about going over your monthly quota. Unlimited Broadband plans are becoming the norm rather than the exception these days, but you’ll want to get one with an internet provider that can deliver reliable, fast streaming no matter what time of day. Here’s a couple we recommend.
Southern Phone Unlimited Turbo Plan
Southern Phone’s NBN plans keep up pretty well in the already crowded broadband niche in Australia. They’re fast, flexible, and reasonably priced. Southern Phone Unlimited Turbo plan (with unlimited data, of course) is a 50/20 Mbps NBN connection, plenty of speed for multiple users streaming at once. If you’re lucky enough to have a connection that supports the speed, you can bump that up to the Max 100/40 speed plan for an extra cost. Plans are frequently offered with generous discounts, too.
Telstra TV + Unlimited Data Bundle
With their fast, reliable network and fondness for eye-opening bundles, the latest Telstra Home Broadband top-end streaming bundle gives you unlimited data at 50/20 Mbps on the NBN. You get the latest Telstra TV streaming box, the new Telstra Smart Modem Gen 2 with 4G backup, three months of free access to Binge, and a home phone line with unlimited local and national calls as well as calls to mobiles. It’s amazing value.
Last audited 30 November 2020
Streaming Devices – Enhance Your New TV!
While modern “smart” TVs come with a set of apps built in, dedicated streaming fans have long preferred to use a full-fledged streaming device to enjoy their favourite services. Why? Well, dedicated devices usually support more apps (and more varied apps) than what’s available directly on the TV, they can support higher quality audio and video (and advanced formats like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision) and are often a better user experience than the corresponding TV apps.
There’s no shortage of streaming devices on the market, but the most popular ones by a long way stand out from the crowd.
One More Thing…
The terminology that gets thrown around might make shopping for a new TV seems confusing and stress-inducing, but it’s not as bad as you’d think. As we said at the top, the key is to have an idea of what you want before you head to the stores. Take your time, get some hands-on experience with the TVs you’re thinking of buying, and be sure to Google them to see what other people think.
You don’t need to spend the big bucks to get a quality, brand-name TV with a fantastic picture and great features, either. Keep an eye out for seasonal specials, haggle with salespeople and stay within your budget, and you’ll find a TV that’s right for you – with the right features, at the right price.