Best TVs of 2015: Are You Buying Your First Full HD TV?

Or are you looking to upgrade from an older model?

If you answer yes to either of these questions, then chances are that you have stumbled into a number of roadblocks common to all when buying a new TV – too much information.

I’m not talking about the TMI you get when your parents try to give you “the talk”. I’m talking about detail overload. You know the feeling you get when someone’s trying to fill your head with facts, figures and acronyms, and your brain starts to overheat? The problem is, you need time to sort out the points that matter to you from useless data.

For me, the trouble is that I suffer from info overload when I’m on the salesroom floor. Same happens on certain internet sites – there’s a huge feature list, but we don’t get told what they mean. So it’s hard to know which details matter.

But Compare TV is here to help! In this article, I’m going to walk you through common features of Full HD TVs. We’ll examine the popular points, tips on use, and questions to ask the salespeople on the showroom floor.

What exactly is a Full HD TV?

Full HD TV stands for “full high definition television”. In common use, this means that the screen resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels – a total of 2,073,600 pixels (around 2.07 megapixels) per frame.

That’s it. That’s what Full HDTV is all about. A bigger image than standard definition – nominally 720 x 576 pixels, but this count varies by brand and model.

How much does size matter?

Take into consideration the space when buying a new TV
Start by considering how much space  you have available and take it from there. Photo: Shutterstock
It matters a lot. Not only do you have to consider how much space you have on the table/wall/cabinet, but you also have to think deeper. As in, how far away you’ll be from the screen.

If you’re like me, you might start out with an HD TV because it’s the most economical – and it also fits into a smaller physical space – like a studio.

Now, most TVs are measured from corner to corner diagonally across the screen. So the actual physical dimensions may vary. Which means there aren’t any set rules for this. But from experience, it pays to follow these guidelines:

  • 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

But it’s important to remember that you can’t improve picture quality just by throwing more pixels at it. Bad quality images look bad regardless of the screen. At the same time, a bad screen will make good images look degraded. So it’s important to check out the screen in person. Keep an eye out for smooth transitions between colours, clean lines, and clear blacks. Also, move around the screen to see how the colours hold up depending on the angle you view it from. You find a Full HDTV with these features, and everything else becomes secondary.

You only get out what you put in

In other words, ports! These days, you might have devices ranging from set-top boxes and satellite feeds to old-school VHS. Look at what you have to plug in, and also think about what you’re likely to have tomorrow.

In my house, that means I need a coaxial input for free-to-air channels, as well as USB inputs for Apple AirPlay. There are also audio out cables for the sound system, and three HDMI inputs (for game consoles, Blu-ray and laptop).

Speaking of HDMI, I have noticed a trend when looking at or buying a TV in store or online. For some reason, the store guys and the websites keep trying to sell me HDMI cables. While I’m sure they mean well, you will probably find that the cables that come with your hardware are more than up to the task. And if you find yourself short? You can always pick one up later online – usually at a discount.

Making a smart purchase

Choosing a TV can be confusing
Choosing a new TV is exciting, but also confusing at times. Our pointers will help. Photo: Shutterstock
Speaking of inputs, most Smart TVs come complete with internet connectivity – usually in the form of WiFi. This means you can access a huge range of content in a startling range of qualities thanks to dedicated Smart TV apps.

Samsung is currently leading the way with these models, but there are a huge range of other brands like LG, Panasonic, and Sony that have captured market attention in recent years.

Plasma, LCD, or OLED?

Well, it’s actually a trick question. If you’re buying a new TV, chances are that it won’t be a Plasma TV. Unfortunately, most producers have dropped Plasma models in favour of LCD and OLED.

LCD TVs work use liquid crystal to display their content while the light comes from LED or fluorescent lamps. These are either edge-lit or back-lit. Edge-lit are lightweight, while back-lit delivers more even lighting. This makes LCDs great in bright light situations.

OLED TVs use organic light-emitting diode displays. Unlike regular LEDs, these diodes emit a range of coloured light. This removes the need for either side- or backlit units – meaning the models are thinner and lighter. They also deliver some of the best black levels possible – so they’re great in shadowy rooms. However, as with most new technologies, OLED TVs are relatively expensive.

Which brand should I buy?

Picking a TV brand depends on your preferences
Picking a brand depends mainly on your preferences and the tech you already have in place. Photo: Shutterstock
This is a tricky question, and the answer really depends on your preferences and the technology you already have in place.

If you’re like me, then you already have a mix-n-match entertainment setup. Everything was bought based on need and price, and it works well together. However, it also means I have about 25 remote controls.

If you’re going to buy a whole system then it makes sense to purchase all one brand. In the HD TV market, the current leaders are (alphanumerically) LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony.

Buying on brand makes sense, as you can experience better connectivity between components – not to mention cutting the number of remotes.

On the other hand, if you already have a decent setup in place, you could always plug in a TV from one of the less-known contenders out there – including brands like TCL, Blaupunkt and Seiki.

However, as always it’s a question of ease. Which model is going to make my viewing experience better? Is the electronic program guide easy to use? Does the remote feel good in my hand? What’s the picture quality like when I view it in person?

To answer these questions, it’s best to test out a few units in-store before putting down hard coin.

So what do I ask the floor guy?

If you’re going to buy direct from a store – or even if you’re purchasing a unit online – it pays to ask the following questions.

  • First up, space. How far away will you be sitting from the TV, and which models will fit?
  • Second, connectivity. What do you want to connect to the HD TV? Is there a model that has all the inputs and jacks you require?
  • Third, internet capability. Do you need a Smart TV, or are you just after a unit to display visual output?
  • Fourth, brightness and lightness. Will your TV be on the wall, in a bright space, or a dark room?
  • And fifth, budget. Out of the remaining models, which Full HD TVs are in your price range?

Asking these questions will help take the guesswork out of your purchase, and make sure you get the Full HD TV that suits your needs.

Need more help?

Go through this handy list of Full HD TVs available today.

Want to see more options? Check out our TV comparison page!