When choosing a television, everyone always tells you to take a look at the different features, compare and contrast, and then choose! Simple, right? WRONG. Most televisions have a list of features a mile long and half of them are probably words you don’t understand, which probably means you also don’t know if they are important or not. Viewing angles are one of these features.
What are viewing angles?
Every living room is set up differently, but you probably have a few different couches or chairs setup in a semi-circle around the television. Very few people have a single couch sitting front and centre in front of the TV and that’s why viewing angles are so important. The viewing angle of a television is the off-axis degree away from zero that someone can look at a screen and still see the high-quality picture that you see when you’re looking at the TV head on.
When watching a television with poor viewing angles, you can immediately tell the difference as you move from side to side in front of the screen (as you can see in the picture on the left). The wider the angle, the less contrast you will see in the picture and the more “grey” and subdued the blacks will become. This drastically degrades the overall quality of the picture.
Previously, when wide screen TVs first came on the market, televisions were split into two distinct categories in regards to viewing angles: plasma TVs had good viewing angles and LED screens didn’t. The way plasma screens display picture is by lighting individual pixels of light, so when you move from side to side the individual like of each pixel doesn’t morph or change. LED screens however are lit as a unit so the colour and blacks of the picture can change with different angles. However, as with most television features, over the years, tech companies have improved screen technology to get better viewing angles on LED and LCD screens as well, so today the playing field is basically equal. There are three main types of LCD/LED screens: Twisted Nematic (TN) Panel, Vertical Alignment (VA) Panel and In-Plane Switching (IPS) Panel. VA and IPS panels tend to have the widest, and therefore best, viewing angles.
Is it a must-have feature?
Whether or not you need a television with great viewing angles really depends on your living room space and where your TV is placed. If you have a smaller living room space with a few chairs relatively close to the 0° angle of the television there may not be a need for a screen with wide viewing angles capabilities. However, though your television is there now, it may not be there forever. What if you decide to move your television to your bedroom or basement man-cave where you’re going to be watching TV from a side couch? So if you’re investing in a new television, you may as well choose a unit with wide viewing angles because you don’t want to be limited by where you can place your television.
Great TVs with even better viewing angles
As mentioned above, vertical alignment (VA) and in-plane switching (IPS) LED/LCD panel types tend to have the best viewing angles. In addition to great viewing angles, vertical alignment panels provide great color contrast ratios and colour reproduction. A great VA panel television is the Panasonic 58” 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D LED Smart TV. This television offers crisp, high-quality 4K Ultra HD picture quality as well as 3D capabilities and a Smart TV menu that lets you easily connect to online services, like Netflix and YouTube. The viewing angle of this television is a whopping 178°, meaning that you are able to get the same crisp, colour saturated picture even when looking at the screen almost sideways.
A great IPS panel television is the massive LG 65” 1080p 240 Hz 3D IPS LED Smart TV. Like the Panasonic mentioned, this stylish television also offers 178° viewing angles. The IPS screen provides crisp 1080p picture in both 2D and 3D, and also has gaming-friendly features like Dual Play that morphs the angle of the screen (with special glasses) so that both gamers can play full screen rather than a split screen. This television also has a Smart TV menu so that you can connect to other online media services. Check out my full review of this TV here.
Sifting through TV features to find the perfect television can be overwhelming and frustrating. Understanding what they mean and why they are important can help to make better choices when buying a new television. A television with great viewing angles lets you get the same high-quality image when looking at the television straight-on or from wide angles on the side. It gives you the flexibility to put your television where you want in the room without sacrificing the quality and crispness of the image.
Want learn more about other TV features? We’re doing a whole series on it! Check it out here.