Are you ready to face the ultra-decisionmaking responsibility?
Chances are, if you’re in the market for an Ultra HD TV, then you’re either buying your first TV, or upgrading from an older model.
In both cases, you have your work cut out for you. Because this is a relatively new development in TV technology, there are a lot of factors to consider.
For starters, do you need an Ultra HD TV? It all comes down to the content you’ll be watching. If you have a next-generation gaming console, own a range of Blu-ray titles, or plan on getting a streaming service that features 4K streaming *cough Netflix cough*, then the answer is definitely YES.
Still, you need to know what kind of features your new Ultra HD TV delivers – and what they mean for your viewing experience – before you make the purchase.
Wait! What does “ultra HD” even mean?
In my last article on HD TVs, we mentioned that an HD TV features a “high-definition” display of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This is the new standard for most content available today – including webcasts, movies and free-to-air TV.
As the name suggests, Ultra HD TVs feature more pixels. The new standard seems to be screens that measure 3840 x 2160 pixels – that’s a whopping 8294400 pixels per frame.
Simply put, Ultra HD TVs can display your favourite titles and games in greater definition.
However, don’t assume that more pixels automatically means better picture quality. You should still take a look at the screen in person. Check it out for smooth colour transitions, solid blacks and a crisp, clear image.
Plus, don’t forget to check the screen from all angles for colour changes – these impact the viewing experience much more than a simple pixel count.
So how big is the screen?
Ultra HD TVs can be huge, so you might need some help setting up your new gadget. Photo: Shutterstock
Unsurprisingly, Ultra HD TVs can be huge. Massive. Disturbingly large. But they also come in smaller, more manageable sizes too.
This is good, as you still need to figure out how much space you have to accommodate your new TV – as well as the distance you want to watch from. These two factors will impact on the size of screen you select.
Keep in mind that most screen sizes are diagonally from corner to corner, and the actual physical dimensions of the unit are going to differ from the display measurements. Here are some guidelines to help you out:
- 1 – 1.5 metres away = 88cm (35 inch) screen
- 1.5 – 2 metres away = 102cm (40 inch) screen
- 2 – 2.5 metres away = 127cm (50 inch) screen
- 2.5 – 3 metres away = 152cm (60 inch) screen
Chances are, if you’re buying an Ultra HD TV, you have a specific purpose in mind. Be it gaming, movies or 4K streaming (4K is another way of talking about Ultra HD content), you need those extra pixels for a purpose.
It’s probably safe to say you won’t be hooking up your old VHS player, so it’s unlikely you’ll need VGA ports. But you’re more than likely to require multiple HDMI inputs!
As a side note, if you buy your Ultra HD TV from a store, the salesperson is likely to ask if you want HDMI cables. Take a look at what you have at home before you buy these, as this common add-on purchase may be unnecessary.
You’re also more likely to need to hook the Ultra HD TV up to an entertainment system, so you’re going to need stereo outs – digital or optical, your choice.
And what about cable? Or good ol’ fashioned free-to-air TV? Better have a coaxial cable input as well.
Of course it would be remiss to buy a new Ultra HD TV that didn’t come with internet connectivity. To make use of streaming video on demand (SVoD) services, you’re going to need either a firewire input, or built-in WiFi.
What’s the difference between Plasma, LCD, and OLED? Read on! Photo: Shutterstock
You’re unlikely to ever find an Ultra HD TV in a Plasma model, because most manufacturers have dropped this in favour of LCD and OLED displays.
LCD TVs use liquid crystal displays that are either side- or back-lit. Back-lit delivers an even light source, so they are great for bright rooms, while side-lit models are generally lighter, thus better for wall mounts. Both will most likely be cheaper than the OLED models, so if budget matters, keep an eye out for these.
OLED TVs are another option. These feature organic light-emitting diode displays that emit coloured light – removing the need for side- and back-lighting. This means the models are thin, light and produce great black levels. Be warned though – OLEDs are relatively new to the market, and many models carry the price tag to match.
This is a tricky question. The answer mainly depends on your preferences and the technology you already have in place.
Currently, the top contenders in the Ultra HD TV space include LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony. If your current entertainment setup features any one of these brands exclusively, then it makes sense to consider expanding within the brand family. In many cases, these brands include better connectivity between devices, or proprietary software that makes managing your entertainment system easier.
On the other hand, you could try out some of the other TV contenders out there – including brands like TCL, Blaupunkt and Seiki.
For me, it’s not a question of brand, it’s more a question of ease of use. And that comes down to the remote control and the electronic program guide.
Are they intuitive to use? Do the buttons and menu options make sense? Can I record a program within 30 seconds of turning the screen on? Or am I likely to throw the remote across the room?
To answer these questions, it’s best to try a few makes and models out in person before committing to a brand based on reputation alone.
What do I ask the floor person?
We have some questions you should keep in mind when talking to the sales staff. Photo: Shutterstock
Assuming you’re sold on getting an Ultra HD TV, here’s a list of questions to ask yourself – or the sales dude or dudette – before you shell out your hard-earned cash.
- Budget. How much do you have set aside for your new Ultra HD TV?
- Space. How far away will you be sitting from the TV, and which models will fit your space best?
- Connectivity. What do you want to connect other devices to the HD TV? Are there units that come complete with all the plugs you need?
- Internet capability. You’ll probably want a Smart TV, so why not check out how it performs in-store? Is it easy to use?
- Brightness and lightness. Will your TV be on the entertainment unit in the bright living room, or hanging on a wall in a shadowy studio?
Keeping these questions in mind when talking to the sales staff or shopping online will help you make a more informed decision and ensure you get the Ultra HD TV that matches all your requirements.
Want to see more options?
Take a look at this handy list of Ultra HD TVs available today.
Check out our TV comparison page!