Every year it seems like there is one or other piece of tech that needs to be updated in our house. Whether it’s a bluetooth speaker, a media streamer, a Blu-ray player or the old TV, this is the time of year that I start weighing up the options and seeing what kind of deal I can find. And as my wife will attest, I’m like a dog after a bone when it comes to saving a few bucks—I just won’t quit!
Of course Black Friday has always been a great time to find a bargain, but nowadays you have Cyber Monday too, and then Boxing Day, and Boxing Week, and the New Year’s sales. Really if you can’t find a few bucks off your dream piece of tech around Christmas then you’re just not checking in at BestBuy.ca often enough!
If you’re on the lookout for a TV this year (and it just so happens that I am) then you’re probably curious to know what some of the latest features and top models are. Today I’m going to delve into this super-competitive segment and see what’s going on.
4K Televisions versus HDTV
You are probably familiar with the concept of 4K video by now, which is a step up from Full HD (a.k.a. ‘1080p’) and offers better resolution, detail and sharpness. It has been said that you need a big screen (bigger than 60″) to really notice the difference, so keep this in mind when you’re assessing your options. You might find that a 1080p HD TV will meet your needs and keep a few extra bucks in your pocket. Also it’s worth bearing in mind that 1080p content is still far more prevalent than 4K content, although obviously things are steadily shifting in the direction of 4K.
The Samsung 43″ 1080p HD LED Tizen Smart TV is one of the most popular Full HD TVs available at Best Buy.
HDR adds realism to your television screen
If you have even a passing interest in tech, you’ve probably realized that HDR is the acronym-du-jour. It stands for “high dynamic range,” and it essentially refers to the range of luminance levels that can be reproduced by a device. Well that’s what dynamic range means—high dynamic range means that many more distinct luminance levels can be reproduced. In the real world, luminance levels often vary continuously, meaning that there is no exact line at which it drops or increases from one point to another. I often look at a sunset and think about the fact that it is impossible to truly reproduce the beautiful light and colour variation across the sky, because it is not made up of individual points or pixels, but is instead a continuum.
As you know if you get close enough to a screen you can see the actual pixels that make up the image, and there are only a fixed number of light intensity values that a single pixel can achieve. The pixels on a HDR screen are capable of emitting a higher number of distinct light intensity values than your average screen, and the result is that you get more detail in the shadow areas of the image and also more detail in the very bright areas of the image. The result is far superior and more true-to-life than a ‘regular’ TV. Bear in mind once again that there is a limited amount of content available in HDR.
The Toshiba 50″ 4K UHD HDR LED Smart TV is an excellent TV at a really competitive price.
Smart TVs allow more options for content and control
It’s standard nowadays for TVs to come with an operating system, so that when you power it up it doesn’t just sit there waiting for you to plug in your peripherals (disc player, cable box, streaming device, etc). For example, the Toshiba 4K HDR TV mentioned above comes with the Amazon Fire TV OS and Alexa Voice Remote, which allows you to do just about anything a physical remote does. Fire TV allows you to access all your favourite streaming services, without the need to plug in any external devices whatsoever.
OLED televisions are simply impressive
Sony and LG are currently the only manufacturers offering OLED screens, and earlier this year I had the opportunity to review the Sony Bravia A8F OLED TV. I was really impressed with the picture quality. OLED stands for ‘organic light emitting diode’, and what’s unique about OLED screens is that they can create pretty much the deepest blacks you can imagine.
It’s difficult to imagine impressive blacks somehow, but trust me, these are blacks that cannot be unseen, and you will never be able to look at other blacks quite the same way again. Of course, you pay a premium for those inky, oily blacks, but I’m sure as manufacturing techniques improve we’ll see prices start to come down.
The other cool thing about OLED technology is that it allows screens to be super, super thin.
TV or artwork?
One of the coolest TVs I’ve seen in a while is Samsungs Frame series, which essentially looks like a picture frame with a matte border, rather than an actual TV. The outer frame is interchangeable and comes in walnut, beige and white. When it’s in Art Mode it displays one of a number of images by famous artists, and you can actually purchase more images in the Art Store. Or you can upload your own photos instead. As you might expect, the Frame is a 4K UHD LCD HDR LED Smart TV [Whoa—acronym overload!] that comes with the Tizen operating system. You can choose from 43″, 55″ or 65″ options.
If you’re thinking of investing in a new TV this Christmas I hope I’ve been able to give you some food for thought. And if you have any wisdom about a recent purchase that you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below!