What do you know before you shop?

Holiday shoppers are looking for deals on Black Friday

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Black Friday is a popular time to buy TVs, but it can also be intimidating if you don’t know what you need.

There are so many TV specifications that shopping for it can be overwhelming and confusing. It’s like an assault acronym. What is HDR? What does 8K mean? What is the difference between LCD, OLED and QLED screens? What is the importance of the brand?

Discount TVs on Black Friday may not be the best of the best. “Typically the TVs you’ll find on Black Friday will be entry-level kits,” said Paul Gagnon, vice president and industrial advisor to market research firm The NPD Group. It’s especially important when you’re discounting a TV that you make sure it has all the features you need before you buy it, said Gagnon, who has been covering the TV industry for 25 years.

Here’s a guide to explain all of these important features so you can find the TV that’s best for you.

What is 4k?

4K TVs are the norm these days. If you’re not sure what 4K means, it describes the image resolution. 4K TVs have four times as many pixels as standard 1080p sets. But keep in mind that most live broadcasts still aren’t filmed in 4K, so you’ll mainly see the benefit in apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, or if you subscribe to YouTube TV with the premium 4K package.

When choosing between resolutions, you may see specifications such as Ultra HD, UHD, or 4K. They all mean the same thing.

What is 8K?

8K resolution has twice the resolution of 4K. It reaches four times the number of pixels of 4K and 16 times the pixels of 1080p.

As tempting as this may sound, you probably won’t enjoy any of the benefits of 8K since there isn’t any content shot in 8K yet. Not to mention, 8K TVs are very expensive. Be prepared to spend over $2,000.

What is HDR?

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HDR, also known as High Dynamic Range, allows your TV shows and movies to appear as intended by the studio that produced them if they were shot in HDR. You’ll get more light in dark scenes, which means it’s easier to see content. Most 4K TVs have HDR compatibility, too.

There is a wide range of quality HDR TVs. Expensive ones can look great, while cheap ones may not. Done right, HDR can actually be a more important feature than 4K.

Good HDR comes from brightness and contrast. When the lighted parts of a TV’s picture are brighter, it improves color and makes the picture look deeper and movies and TV shows can look more realistic. Let’s say you’re watching a movie with an ocean shot, and you’ll be able to see the subtle nuances and texture of the wave, the deepest blues and white hats, making you feel the realism of the scene.

But HDR performance can vary widely from TV to TV. Make sure the TV you buy has a brightness of at least 400 nits – a measure of the intensity of brightness – as TVs with levels below 400 are sometimes marketed as HDR TVs as well. 600 nits or more brightness is better, with the best-performing HDR TVs hitting 1,000 nits or more.

You will see different types of HDR marketing. HDR10 is widely used because it is an open and free technology standard. Pretty much all HDR-enabled TVs will work with HDR10 content.

There’s also HDR10+ that’s supported by most major streaming devices, with the exception of Netflix. Keep in mind that TVs can receive updates, so if a manufacturer decides to join HDR10+, the company can add this capability to your TV without you having to do anything but update the software.

What does refresh rate mean?

People will be able to play Xbox Game Pass games over a cloud connection on 2022 Samsung Smart TVs.

Microsoft

A TV’s refresh rate is the number of times an image can be reset and displayed per second. Most televisions today offer either 60Hz, which means the screen is refreshed 60 times per second, or 120Hz, which is refreshed 120 times per second.

The latter is more expensive but can be better if you watch a lot of fast-moving content, such as sports or action movies. When refresh rates are low, it creates motion blur, which can make a moving picture look grainy.

This number is especially important for gamers. Newer consoles, such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, offer 120Hz refresh rates, but you’ll need a true 120Hz TV to see the graphics as sharp as possible.

If you’re installing a gaming system that uses a higher refresh rate, “make sure your TV has an HDMI 2.1 input,” Gagnon said. He said this is the port that will support these fast refresh rates.

What is the difference between LCD, OLED and QLED?

Amazon Fire TV Omni Series on QLED TV

Amazon

Almost every television today uses either a liquid crystal display, known as an LCD, or an organic light-emitting diode display, known as an OLED. The latter is capable of producing the best picture quality, while LCDs generally cost less but can still give you a great picture.

OLED is a newer technology. It does not have a standard backlight. Instead, each pixel is lit on its own. On the other hand, the best quality LCD screens have local dimming, which means that parts of the screen can go dimmer without affecting the brightness on the rest of the screen.

“The biggest advantage of LCD is that it is by far the cheapest of all technologies,” said Gagnon. “Very high-end LCD TVs do a very good job of getting close to or matching the performance of OLED screens.”

With OLED, “you’re typically talking about a better performing display, so it’s going to have higher contrast levels and better color performance.” It will also be easier to watch TV from multiple viewing angles, Gagnon explained, and it will likely have the fastest refresh rate.

There is also QLED, which stands for Quantum Light Emitting Diode. QLED TV is basically an LCD TV with quantum dots. Quantum dots are tiny particles that, when light hits them, emit their own differently colored light. Because of this technology, QLED TVs reproduce colors more accurately, which improves overall picture quality.

With QLED, “you get better color performance, you also get a little bit of an efficiency improvement, which means the set can be a little bit brighter, and often these are TVs that include other features, for example, higher refresh rates and more inputs.” HDMI,” Gagnon said.

What about smart TVs?

iTunes running on Samsung TV

Samsung

Almost all TVs are smart now, so no matter which brand you choose, you’ll likely have apps that come preloaded on your new TV. You can connect an external streaming device to any TV, such as an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku box, or Apple TV. If you do, look for one with 4K and HDR, as long as that’s what your new TV supports. This way you will ensure that you get the best possible viewing experience.

When it comes to using pre-loaded apps on your TV, it is important to know that the Smart TV stores, where you can download apps for your TV, are different depending on the brand of your TV. Samsung TVs will give you access to the Samsung Smart TV Store, and LG TVs have the LG Content Store. Other brands, including TCL, Hisense, and Toshiba, partner with streamers you’re familiar with, like Roku, The Google And the Amazon.

It is less important to find the TV that has the smart service you prefer, and it is more important to find the best quality TV. You’ll always have the option to add an external streaming device to your TV if you prefer one company over another.

If you rely on your TV’s built-in apps, Gagnon suggested, make sure the smart TV you buy supports all of the streaming apps you use frequently. And if you have an iPhone and want to mirror your screen, make sure your TV supports Apple screen mirroring. If you’re an Android user, make sure your TV supports Cast, which is Google’s version of sharing content from phone to TV.

Soundbars are a good investment

Since TVs are so thin these days, there isn’t much room for speakers, which means most TVs have very poor sound quality. Bar speakers can solve this problem by providing larger speakers with deeper bass and better range. They’ll help a bit if you’ve got an issue where the TV show is too quiet in some scenes and then loud in others. You can find good ones for a range of prices, anywhere from $100 to $800. You can even get a free one on Black Friday if the retailer bundles it with a TV purchase.

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