11 TV Terminologies You Should Know Before Shopping in 2018
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With new TV technologies coming up fast and furious, there’s a lot to take in in regards to the TV world nowadays. To ease your confusion and to make your next TV purchase a lot easier, we break down the terminologies to know before you start your shopping:
Perhaps the most common term you will hear when you’re shopping for a TV is 4K. As the latest buzzword in the TV world, it’s also known as UHD. What 4K refers to is the screen resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. This is in comparison to conventional HD TVs, which have a pixel resolution of 1,080 x 1,920 pixels. 4K TVs therefore have four times the amount of pixels than a conventional HD TV.
What this translates to are an increased pixel density and clearer and more detailed pictures on the screen. This however, is very much dependent on the content you’re watching. A 4K TV can only fully showcase its abilities with 4K content. There are quite a number of online streaming platforms that are already showing 4K content though, including Netflix and Amazon Video. A few YouTube channels are also playing 4K content. There will be more to come, seeing as how 4K TV is now the way to go, and it pays to have a TV that is future-proof.
LED TVs use light emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate its LCD screen. Before LED TVs, LCD screens were illuminated using incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs. In comparison, LEDs can be produced much smaller and slimmer.
OLED TVs use organic light emitting diodes to illuminate the TV. When electricity is applied, the OLEDs—essentially thin, light emitting films—get lit up. Because OLEDs can be controlled individually, OLED TVs are able to produce deeper blacks than their LED counterparts. They also don’t require a backlight, so they can be produced thinner and lighter. There are several brands that carry OLED TVs, although the most reputable is LG’s range of OLEDs.
QLED TVs, marketed exclusively by Samsung, are essentially LED TVs but they come with an additional Quantum Dot technology (hence the ‘Q’), which is essentially a film of red and green dots added to the blue LED lights. This allows them to produce richer colours.
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As the standard for TV nowadays, a smart TV is basically one that has the ability to connect to the Internet to stream content online. Most sets today come with built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to sites online.
Local dimming is an oft used TV marketing term for LED TVs, but it’s important to know as it correlates directly to the TV image quality. Local dimming refers to the LED TV’s ability to dim an area of the screen that needs to be dimmed, while keeping the rest of the sections bright. However, there are several kinds of local dimming. One of which is edge-lit local dimming, where LEDs are placed on the edges of the TV.
But what you want to look out for is full array local dimming, where the LEDs are arranged in a grid fashion throughout the display panel. The LEDs are switched off and on by “zones”, which means more control over the areas that need to be dimmed or brightened. This achieves a better black display and colour contrast as compared to LED TVs that have edge-lit local dimming.
Measured in Hertz (Hz), it refers to the number of times a TV changes/updates the image (frame) per second. The higher the number, the better as that means it can change and update the image faster. This is particularly important if you tend to play content with fast-motion sequences on your TV. A higher refresh rate means a smoother picture quality. In general, new and higher end 4K TVs can go up to 120 Hz, while lower-end models tend to hover around 60 Hz.
Contrast ratio refers to the difference between the darkness and brightness a TV can produce. A higher contrast ratio is desired for more detailed images. As there is currently no contrast ratio standard in the TV world, how one manufacturer measures contrast ratio can be very different from how another manufacturer measures them. As a buyer, just use contrast ratio to compare between models of the same brand rather than across brands. Nowadays though, you might see fewer TV manufacturers using the term to describe the level of contrast of their TVs.
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
One of the TV features you will be hearing a lot of is HDR. It’s kind of a complicated term to understand but essentially, it’s a good thing to have. With 4K TV, you’re getting more pixels on your screen. With HDR, it’s making those extra pixels work even harder for you.
What HDR does is that it improves TV contrast, the contrast between bright and dark, for a more realistic image. Most HDR-compatible TV can process 1,000 nits of brightness in contrast with standard dynamic range TVs that can only process about 300 to 500 nits of brightness. An HDR TV can also produce a 10-bit colour depth, so colour gradients on a screen are smoother. A 10-bit colour depth also includes over a billion individual colours. For comparison, most Blu-Ray videos can produce 8-bit colour. As with 4K, only by playing HDR content on an HDR-compatible TV can you fully benefit from the advantages of HDR.
There are two major formats of HDR, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The former an open standard that is able to produce 10-bit colour, while the latter is a closed standard and can go up to 12-bit colour with the potential to reach a whopping 10,000 nits brightness (although current TVs can really only support about 4,000 nits but it pays to be future-proof!). There is also the up-and-coming HDR10+, which is available on certain Samsung models. It’s a variation of HDR10, but are closer to Dolby Vision in the sense that the format includes a dynamic metadata that allows the TV to adjust brightness levels based on the specific scene or frame so dark scenes can become darker and bright scenes can become brighter.
If you’re particularly particular about sound, look out for Dolby Atmos in the TVs. It’s the latest audio technology for surround sound and provides a more three-dimensional sound experience. However, the caveat is that it really only matters if you’re actually watching Dolby Atmos content and you’re accompanied by a full surround sound setup (sound bar, speakers, etc). With TVs being so slim nowadays, many aren’t capable of being fitted with speakers that produce exceptional sound.
It stands for High Definition Media Interface, and it’s physically a cable connector but technically, it’s so much more. It’s designed to transmit high-definition audio and video signals, and most TVs come with a few HDMI inputs so you can plug in things like your sound bar or your cable box. Make sure there are sufficient number of inputs on the TV you’re buying for the number of components you will be connecting to your TV.
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