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Avoid These 8 Major Mistakes When Buying a New 4K TV

by on February 1, 2017
 

Stephan Jukic – February 1, 2017

Buying a new 4K ultra HD TV isn’t exactly rocket science, but it does have its little quirks. After all, you’re going for a complex piece of performance hardware in a market that’s saturated with different models, marketing buzzwords, constantly evolving new features and technologies. And you’re going to spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on the particular TV you decide to buy. Thus, it’s important to avoid making some fundamental mistakes, and here are some that we consider to be the biggest causes of buyer’s regret.

  1. Buying a TV in the wrong size

As a general rule when it comes to 4K TVs, bigger is better if you want to really appreciate the ultra HD resolution. This has however diminished a bit due to the advent of HDR, which can be appreciated equally even on much smaller TV displays but even in this case, bigger always looks much more impressive. That said, a giant 70 inch monster of a 4K TV in a tiny studio living room, just 4 feet from your face is absolutely overkill and a small 43 inch display in a family-sized living room is going to leave you squinting way too much.

Thus, while for most people it’s a good idea to go for a TV of at least 50 inches even in the smallest setting, the general living room/den rule should be to measure the distance in inches between where you want your TV and where you plan on sitting most of the time and divide that by 1.5 to get the rough display size you’d like. Buy the TV you can afford that’s closest to this size.

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  1. Focusing on unimportant features

4K TVs come with all sorts of overhyped extra features which do nothing to improve their overall performance and most annoyingly, these extras can confuse would-be buyers into analysis paralysis when it comes to buying a new set. What unimportant features are we referring to? Examples include 3D (most consumers don’t use it and it’s completely secondary to picture performance), pointless curved displays, absurdly high made-up motion rates (250Hz, 400Hz, and higher) and other types of mostly pointless things like local dimming hype in a TV which doesn’t even have full-array LED backlighting (Check out our guide to local dimming and backlighting for more on how this works).

The most important features of any 4K TV are the standardized display performance specs it delivers. These include how well the TV shows color, how well it delivers black levels, how bright it is, how high its native refresh rate is (60Hz to 120Hz) and whether or not it has HDR if you want a model that’s ready for the future of TV content.

4K TV color space coverage is much more important than things like fake motion handling numbers and curved vs. flat screen design

4K TV color space coverage is much more important than things like fake motion handling numbers and curved vs. flat screen design

  1. Getting a TV that’s not future-proof

Most 4K TVs today come with standardized display specs, connectivity options and features like HDR10 or Dolby Vision HDR support. Thus, most newer 2015, 2016 or 2017 4K TVs are already fully future-proofed for most of the content and content sources that will emerge for several years to come at least. Furthermore, firmware updates will likely come along to address many specs as th come along for newer televisions.

That said, while you absolutely don’t need to buy one of the newest and best 4K TVs on the market for a rock solid home entertainment experience, do try to go for the newest model you can reasonably afford. They are for the most part genuinely superior in their picture performance and will at least let you enjoy the essentials of a great home entertainment experience for several more years. Most 2014 name brand 4K TVs and all 2015, 2016 and 2017 4K TV models sold now offer the essentials for ultra HD home entertainment but the most future-proof TVs right now are those with HDR support, so get one of those if at all possible.

Even the cheapest 4K TVs today are mostly future-proofed for HDR support

Even some of the cheapest 4K TVs today are mostly future-proofed for HDR support

  1. Believing manufacturer hype

Following the manufacturer hype around any 4K TV on the market will give a gullible reader the impression that even the cheapest televisions deliver stellar, top-shelf performance that will leave you breathless. This is obviously not the case. Not all 4K TVs are created equal and all jargon aside, most budget TVs will deliver picture quality which is notably inferior to that of their pricier premium cousins.

The better TVs on sale offer true local dimming with full-array LED backlighting (LEDs across the entire display space) or OLED display panels (which are the best of all panel types so far in existence), 120Hz native refresh rates, deeper contrast levels, richer black levels, superior color performance and better motion handling. These technologies do make a difference and if a 4K TV lacks some of them, it will not be an exceptional performer regardless of how hyped up its core features are. Our best advice is to always research any TV you’re going to buy as carefully as possible and if you can, get a live view of how well a model you want to buy displays content, preferably next to other 4K TVs from other brands for easy comparison.

  1. Worrying too much about Smart TV Features

All newer 4K TVs are now smart TVs. From 2015 onward, this became a completely integral technology of every model from pretty much any brand worth mentioning at all. However, not all native smart TV platforms are created equal, with some offering better 4K content apps access, better usability and other perks like web browsing and so forth. Our particular favorite so far is WebOS 3.0 from LG followed by Samsung’s Tizen smart platform for all its TVs then Sony’s Android TV. However, in their essentials, all of these platforms offer a solid user experience, meaning that they should almost never be the reason why you choose a particular TV over another one.

Furthermore, if you’re not happy with any one smart TV platform that came built into your particular television, there is a whole range of external media boxes and streaming sticks available on the market to completely ignore your TV’s own smart platform with. From Roku TV to Google Chromecast to Android TV, any of these external smart platforms can be plugged into your TV at any time, offering their own range of specific layouts and content choices.

All modern 4K TVs and external smart TV platforms come with the essentials of 4K streaming content services

All modern 4K TVs and external smart TV platforms come with the essentials of 4K streaming content services

  1. Failing to address your personal needs

Different 4K TVs are ideal for different uses. Some are particularly great for live sports, others are especially good gaming TVs and others offer the best of all worlds but usually also cost quite a bit as a result. The important thing is to go for what appeals most to your needs and habits. Don’t necessarily buy a huge 75 inch model 4K TV just because your cousin or buddy has one, even though you might need the television for a much smaller space. Instead, do your research and ask questions, using reviews of major models such as those we have on this site to pick the TV brand and model that most suits your budget and needs.

  1. Spending too little

It’s okay to look for the best value per dollar spent on a 4K TV and in the process forsake a few truly premium features. However, this should never mean that you buy cheap for cheap’s sake alone. While there are many superb 4K UHD TVs even with many previously premium features like HDR and full array backlighting available for excellent prices by now, a lot of the really low-priced models out there offer fairly weak display quality and deciding to spend just a modest amount more on a model with some premium extras can make a world of difference in home theater enjoyment. Try to find a good deal, by all means but don’t let price alone be your deciding factor.

  1. Spending too much

Just as it’s possible to skimp too much on a 4K TV and suffer the consequences of weak performance, it’s also possible to overspend on something you don’t need at all. This point ties into several above about not buying into marketing hype and pricey but useless extra features that sometimes bloat 4K TV prices dishonestly.

One excellent example of overpaying for the pointless is having to get a bigger TV than what you’d really need for a perfectly awesome time using it. Another example is going for a cool new design fad that does nothing to boost TV performance but is used as justification for pricing a TV a couple hundred bucks higher. Curved TVs fit the bill on this trend perfectly. Samsung in particular released several models with curved and flat screen versions, with the curved models costing between $150 and $250 more than their flat but otherwise identical cousins.

Story by 4k.com

8 comments
 
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  • Frank
    February 2, 2017 at 12:54 am

    In number 4 you say the better TVs are the FALD LEDs – OLED TVs are better than these (albeit with the extreme brightness where you tend to get some blooming on even the best FALDs anyway).

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      February 2, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      Hello Frank, I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear on that. I was stating that FALD TVs are the best of all LCD/LED TV types. They are still obviously inferior to OLED TV models in terms of how they present dimming and lighting. This has been clarified in the article now. Thanks.

      Reply

      • James
        February 6, 2017 at 9:18 pm

        Careful when you glorify the OLED as the perfect TV. Everyone is going to rush out and grab an WRGB TV that is available today, throw it in their well lit living room and realize it’s unwatchable during the day as well being blue shifted for 2,000 hours thanks to the over indexing on the blue subpixel. OLED fan boys like you cause us retailers so much margin erosion when the consumer returns the OLED and we have to mark it down. You promise a miracle TV, and more often than not, people are unimpressed after paying 3 times what a better performing premium LCD/LED couts. I’ll tell you a secret… yes OLED does perfect black. Guess how many movies have been mastered in perfect black… none… ever. So the OLED’s greatest claim is wasted. .03 is the bottom for black in HDR10, and 1000 nits is the requirement for brightness. The best 2016 OLED hits 650 nits peak, and drops to 140 nits sustained on a full screen image with a light colored background. So what is more important, being able to hit a black level that has literally never been used, or being able to hit the brightness that is literally used in every single UHD movie ever mattered? Image retention is still an issue even though you will say it isn’t. Walk into any retailer and look at the B6 that’s been playing, you’ll see the airplane content burnt into the screen. Remember to buy the TV that works for your situation, not the one that the fan boys hype up and don’t even address the staggering limitations of the technology. The returns on these OLED TVs are absolutely ridiculous and costing retailers a fortune to resell discounted because they have been opened and everyone had to find out the hard way because they listened to some article that makes a blanket statement about a technology that still has so many problems. And if you want to hear about how using a white subset pixel makes the display technically not 4k, Google it.

        Reply

  • annoyed
    February 25, 2017 at 6:44 am

    dci-p3 is hdr10 and bt.2020 is dolby vision? Are you smoking crack? What does color gamut have to to with hdr??????

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      February 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Wide color gamut is a major component of HDR standards. TVs with color coverage of over 90% of the DCI-P3 space are generally considered to be WCG TVs and to thus offer what is normally called HDR color. This is even standardized by HDR specs recommendations like the UHD Premium standard of the UHD Alliance. I’d suggest you read more carefully on what HDR represents in TV display and content.

      Reply

  • Pam Lassila
    March 17, 2017 at 7:13 am

    I thin it’s important to consider what size of TV you want and what size of TV you can actually fit! Sometimes we want these massive ones only to realize that they don’t even fit in our house! It would save you a lot of money and time if you were prepared with the exact size you want and then you can just pick it out from those options

    Reply

  • John
    March 22, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Beware of Samsung TV software. It is terrible and not future proof, after a year your tv become secondary citizen. Updates are too slow and most features are available on android tv platform way before Samsung’s slow engineers release it to one year old series. Netflix tv app for HDR support was not updated for more than 11 months on 2015 SUHD tv. It was only blame game between samsung and netflix with no results for long time.

    Reply

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