If you get a tax-return windfall, you suddenly have options. You could, for example, put the funds aside for a rainy day. An intelligent choice for sure.
Then again, you might see an opportunity to upgrade your home entertainment system. And if you’re like me, that starts with a big, big screen!
How big is too big?
After moving out, I quickly got tired of watching shows on my laptop. The small screen just made for a very cramped viewing experience. And forget trying to share! There was only ever room enough for one audience member at a time.
I craved a big TV. There was just something about the idea of having a dedicated viewing machine. You sit down in front of that thing, and it’s obvious that you’re there for a purpose.
But there’s an upwards limit to screen size. If you live in a small town-house, then a 90-inch screen just isn’t a clever option. Likewise, there’s no point in having a huge screen if you have to sit 30 centimetres from it – you might strain your neck.
And that’s just the tip of the TV-buying iceberg. There are just so many points to consider!
So, how do you pick the best option for your hard-earned tax return dollars?
What do I measure?
Once you know where your TV is going to live, it’s time think about what you are going to use your new TV for.
Yes, it sounds obvious (watching things, duh) but there’s a lot more to it.
For example, are you watching DVDs or Blu-rays? What about 3D titles? Do you care about how the TV looks in the room? Are you interested in reducing glare and eye strain? Can you connect it to a gaming console? What about hardware – like Apple TV or Chromecast? Will you try and stream movies and TV shows over Wi-Fi? Or will you be watching content from a laptop or USB source? And do you currently have – or are you planning on getting – a cable TV subscription from Foxtel, Telstra or Optus?
There are a lot of common features to keep in mind. Number of USB ports, types of Wi-Fi connectivity, number of tuners, and how the remote control feels in your hand. While these features can be deal-makers, they shouldn’t be the starting point of your buying decision.
What are the top five features?
Full HD refers to televisions with a 1080p display – that’s a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. This means you can watch your favourite shows and play games in a higher definition than available from a normal HD TV. With a full HD TV, the image quality works well with a home theatre system, as well as most gaming consoles.
Ultra HD TVs feature displays with twice as many pixels as an HD TV. This means it has a screen resolution of 3840x2160p (2160p). Because these screens have more pixels in the same amount of space, Ultra HD TVs (also known as 4K TVs) can deliver more on-screen detail. This makes them an ideal choice if you watch a lot of Blu-ray titles, own a next-generation gaming console, or plan on using the Premium Netflix subscription (which supports 4K TV displays).
As the name suggests, a 3D TV lets viewers watch 3D titles in their own homes. 3D TVs deliver a real sense of depth using the same passive polarisation technology as in the cinemas. And since James Cameron’s Avatar came out in 2009, you can choose from a growing number of titles. If you own a 3D Blu-ray player, this could make a 3D TV a wise choice. Of course, you can still watch watch normal 2D content on your 3D TV.
Relatively fresh to the market, a Curved TV offers a unique viewing experience. It features a concave flex screen that mimics your field of view. The curve also helps to reduce reflection glare found on the sides of the screen. One down side of the curved screen is that you will have trouble getting it onto a wall mount. Plus, it’s sometimes harder to make out details when viewing the screen from the side – but that happens with most TVs anyway.
A Smart TV is a television set that features integrated computing and networking capabilities. On the face of it, this means you can browse the net through your TV. Digging deeper, this turns your TV into a veritable entertainment library. YouTube and SoundCloud already offer easy access to music and videos via websites and apps. Plus, most smart TVs also let you watch content from an external USB drive, or a connected laptop. You can also subscribe to one of the many streaming video on demand services available in Australia. Right now these include Presto, Netflix, Stan and Quickflix. Most of these services offer a dedicated Smart TV app, as well as free trials and special offers.
What are my top picks?
Still wondering about your choices? To help you out, I’ve picked one solid mid-range choice for each category. You’re welcome!
A popular blend of size and price point, the Samsung UA40J6200 offers a 40 inch (101cm) Full HD LED LCD screen – and it’s a Smart TV. At just $998 (you save $301 by buying online), this offers an ideal blend of size, affordability and accessibility.
If you want to experience 4K definition, then the LG 49UF770T 4K Ultra HD Smart LED LCD TV may be more your style. With a 49 inch (124cm ) screen, this Smart TV could help you realise the dream of watching Orange Is The New Black in Super HD right in your lounge room. And with a price tag of $1,799 (save $500 by buying online), this makes 4K definition readily available.
As you might expect, 3D TV technology is not the cheapest. But if you have a large enough tax return – or if you have that many 3D Blu-ray titles – then it may be a smart investment. For example, the Sony KD65X8500B Ultra HD Smart 3D LED LCD TV might be the pick for you. Another Smart TV, this model features a huge 65 inch (153cm) 4K screen, making it an ideal centerpiece for your home entertainment setup. And at $3,247, it really is towards the mid-range of the 3D TV spectrum.
Often seen in movies, curved screens make a statement in any room. Some are saying it helps with immersion, other just that it looks cool. And speaking of cool, the Samsung UA65HU7200W 4k Ultra HD Smart Curved LED LCD TV really does have all the bells and whistles! As you might expect with so many features – it’s a Super HD Smart TV with a curved screen – the price is a little higher than some, at $3,277.
The definition of a Smart TV is kind of broad. But for my hard-earned tax-return dollars, I would probably go with the Panasonic TH-55CX700A Smart 4K Ultra HD 3D LED LCD TV. Not only does it boast a 3D 4K screen, it comes with a quad core processor, built-in twin tuner, and the popular Firefox browser pre-installed! With a solid 55″ (139cm) screen and a price of just $2,499 (save $500 by buying online), this makes the Panasonic model stand out more than most.
Is there one TV that has it all?
I know what I like in my technology – and that’s for it to have all the features. And from what I have found, the Samsung UA55JU7500 4K Ultra HD Curved Smart 3D LED LCD TV gets my medal.
First up, its curved 55″ (140cm) screen fits snugly in my lounge. It features a twin tuner, plus dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity, and supports file playback from a number of USB ports. Plus it’s one of the few curved screen offerings that also supports 3D titles!
The blend of accessibility and playback ability means that I have a future-proof purchase that will last me years. It has a huge range of features that enables me to watch whatever I want, however I want. And sure, there may be new developments in the future *crosses fingers and prays for holograms* but for now this model meets my needs nicely.
And the price? Just $2,796 (a massive saving of $700 if you purchase online).
Want to see more options? Check out our TV comparison page!