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Television Buying 101

It seems like every year or two, the technological advances around televisions seem to take another leap forward. For example, a TV with a 32-inch screen was once considered a big TV. Now, TVs of more than 50 inches are considered the norm, and some TVs are bigger than 70 inches. If you're wondering about exactly what to look for when buying a new or even a refurbished TV, consider some of the following factors as you begin the decision-making process.

Start with Size

Of all the things to consider when selecting a new TV, size is probably the single-most important factor. You should know how much space it'll take up in the room, especially if it's going on or into a piece of furniture. In addition, decide how the TV is going to be displayed. This means deciding whether it will hang from a wall or sit on a stand in an entertainment center. When considering size, remember that TVs are measured diagonally, meaning that they are measured on the screen from one lower corner to the upper corner on the other side. For example, you would measure from the lower right corner to the upper left corner. That's what the different inch designations mean a 32-inch TV's screen is 32 inches diagonally, not in width or height.

Most TV screens take up the entire space on the front, but there's often an edge of as much as an inch on all four sides of the TV that isn't part of the screen. The bottom part of the TV is sometimes bigger than the other edges and may include speakers. If you're planning to mount the TV on a wall, make sure you have the proper hardware for hanging and that the wall mount device is designed for the size of TV you choose. If you're hanging the TV yourself, the wall mount should be attached to a stud in the wall (not just drywall) so that it can support the weight of the TV.

Choose the Right Type of TV

There are many TV types available these days. This list includes led TVs, LCD TVs, 3-D TVs, 4K TVs, curved TVs and Smart TVs. Some of these categories overlap. For example, you might find a smart TV that has a curved LED screen. A brief description of TV types follows:

  • LED TV: Light-emitting diodes produce light via a semiconductor device; some LED TVs are OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, TVs that emit light via an organic compound charged by an electric current.
  • LCD TV: Liquid crystal display TVs receive light from other sources, including LEDs. They're most commonly found in high-definition TVs (HDTVs).
  • 3-D TV: These are TVs that alter the depth perception that the TV emits so the picture seems richer and more lifelike. They require the use of some form of 3-D glasses and blurry to the naked eye.
  • 4K TV: Ultra-high definition (UHD) TVs like these have four times the resolution (measured in pixels) of standard-resolution TVs.
  • Plasma TV: These TVs use electronically charged ionized gases, similarly to a fluorescent bulb, to light up the TV.
  • Curved TV: These TVs feature curved screens as opposed to flat-panel screens, which is supposed to create a wider field of view, especially for people viewing the middle of the screen.
  • Smart TV: TVs that have Internet capability and Bluetooth capability make it possible to pair the TV with other devices connected via Wi-Fi or wired access, such as computers, tablets and smartphones.

The resolution for HDTVs displays ranges from 720p (pixels of resolution per frame) to 1080p or 1080i (interlaced lines of resolution). UHD TVs, specifically 4K UHD TVs, have a resolution of 2160p, and 8K UHD TVs have a resolution of 4320p these are the sharpest, clearest picture displays available.

Accessorize with the Right Gear

Having a new TV doesn't always provide you with the best viewing experience if you have a subpar sound system. Consider upgrading to a home theater system or enhancing your current stereo receiver and amplifier. New speakers can also deliver better overall sound for those blockbuster movies and live concerts you may find yourself watching. If nothing else, adding a soundbar, which can sit in front of the TV if you're using an entertainment center, can deliver high-quality audio some even feature integrated subwoofers for a theater-quality experience. Media streaming players, video game consoles and DVD/Blu-ray players are other components you may want to use in conjunction with your new TV.

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