Televisions buying guide

Designed by our experts, this TV buying guide is here to help you learn and discover the differences between the different types of TVs available, whether you are looking at buying an LED, Freeview HD TV or another kind of television.

Click on the tabs below to learn more about the considerations you should think about when purchasing a television.

What TV screen size is right for you?

Choosing the right TV screen size is the most difficult but most important first step in choosing a television. The designs and sizes of televisions have changed dramatically in recent years. For instance, a 32" TV from 5 years ago takes up roughly the same amount of space as a 42" TV today.

Use the handy table below to help you decide the range of TV screen sizes you should consider, depending on how far away you sit from the TV and the physical space available in your home.

Over 50

TV screen type

There are 3 main types of TV screen; LCD, LED and Plasma. Each has different qualities, suitable for different programmes and viewing environments.

Read on for a breakdown of the current TV screen technology available to you.

LCD

LCD TVs rely on a large source of light to provide great, everyday television viewing. This makes the back bigger and bulkier than LED or Plasma TVs, which should be considered if you are going to attach your TV to the wall.

Plasma

Designed with the big screen moment in mind, Plasma TVs are available in screen sizes larger than 42”. Plasma TVs offer high screen speeds making them ideal for watching fast moving action including sports and your favourite fast-paced thrillers. They also provide fantastic definition for enjoying the most natural colours such as in wildlife documentaries.

For the optimum viewing experience, a Plasma screen TV is best to be used in dimmer rooms as they are not optimised for brightly lit rooms.

LED

LED TVs are the next generation of LCD TVs but the difference lies in the way in which they are backlit. An LED TV is backlit using LEDs (light emitting diodes) which produce a brighter picture with higher contrast, so blacks appear blacker and whites are whiter.

LED TVs are more suited to a wider variety of programmes providing the most vivid colours and best all round picture. They are great for brightly lit rooms and slimmer in design for space saving.

  Movies   Sport   Wildlife   Animation   General   Bright room   Dark room   Slim design
LCD
LED
Plasma

Smart TVs

Smart TVs allow you to get the best of the internet through your television screen, including catch-up TV, social networking and web browsing. We have split these into 3 categories: Watch, Chat and Surf.

Smart surfing

Watch

Smart TVs allow you to watch catch up TV services such as BBCiPlayer and ITV Player.

You can also access YouTube videos and movies on demand services such as Knowhow™ Movies.

Smart surfing

Chat

Smart TVs allow you to chat to your friends through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The added advantage of chatting on most Smart TVs is that you can watch your favourite programmes at the same time as chatting with your friends online.

Additionally, you can Skype your friends and family from your Smart TV. Many now have built-in webcams and for those that don’t, you can easily purchase a compatible webcam to make the most of your Smart TV.
See our TV accessories section for more details.

Smart surfing

Surf

Most Smart TVs come with built in web browsers, which allow you to access your favourite web sites direct through your TV.

Whether you are looking for sports scores, reading the news or looking for an update on the weather, a Smart TV allows you to do all of this and more, without turning on your computer!

Smart TV connectivity

To enable your Smart TV functions, it has to be connected to the internet. This can be done by connecting it to your router and broadband either via an Ethernet cable or wirelessly over the network with WiFi.

Some Smart TVs have WiFi built-in, while others are 'WiFi ready', which usually means that you can connect wirelessly by purchasing an additional WiFi adapter (also called a dongle). Simply insert it into the TVs USB port and connect your Smart TV wirelessly to your WiFi network.
View WiFi adapters

Connection to the internet via Ethernet cable
Connect via internet via ethernet cable
Connection to the internet wirelessly via WiFi
Connect wireless to the internet

3D TVs

You can bring a whole new viewing experience of 3DTV into your living room via 3D Blu-ray, TV services and games.
Additionally, the enhanced screen technology of 3DTVs improves everyday 2D content.This extra capability makes a 3DTV a great addition for your home.
Look out for active and passive 3D options as well as glasses-free 3DTV.

Active 3D (Active shutter)

If you love films and gaming then this is the technology for you. Active 3D gives you the Full HD experience and is perfect for those that want the very best 3D picture. Active 3D glasses can be more cumbersome than passive 3D as they require batteries but the experience is second to none.

You can find out more about these glasses in our accessories section.

Active 3D

Glasses free 3D

Glasses-free 3D is tomorrow's TV, today. No need to wear glasses to watch your 3DTV. The technology is high-end and perfect for a show stopping experience - great if you want the newest, biggest experience now.

Glassesless 3D

Passive 3D (Cinema)

Passive 3D is a fantastic start into the world of 3D television and brings the cinematic experience into your home. Passive 3D provides a great value solution for multiple viewers as the glasses are lightweight and inexpensive - ideal for family viewing!

You can find out more about these glasses in our accessories section.

Passive 3D

Picture quality

When buying a new television, great picture quality is one of the most important features to consider especially with advancing high definition technology. The difference between HD ready and Full HD is vital to understand in terms of screen image quality, and in addition you should contemplate refresh rates and processing rates which contribute to the overall picture quality too.

Whats the difference between HD Ready & Full HD

TV picture quality is forever changing. HD TV is now readily available and broadcast, and Blu-rays are becoming the new DVD. With this in mind, what is the right type of TV resolution for you?

Most televisions today are either HD Ready or Full HD, moving on from Standard Definition (576i) televisions where the picture quality is basic by comparison. Without HD capability, television is broadcast in Standard Definition.

HD Ready (720p) Twice as sharp as Standard Definition TVs, HD Ready TVs allow you to enjoy the benefits of HD broadcasted channels through your television, although not necessarily in full resolution. HD Ready is more suited to smaller TV screens.

Full HD (1080p) Up to five times sharper than a standard picture, Full HD is great for viewing HD broadcasts and also Blu-ray movies in full 1080p resolution. Ideal for larger screen sizes, Full HD televisions will provide clearer, sharper and more vibrant images.

HD quality

Refresh Rates and processing rates

The refresh rate and processing rate of a TV will help identify how well the TV copes with motion. This is measured in Hertz (Hz) which is how quickly an image is shown per second. The higher the Hertz or the frequency, the more times per second the image refreshes and the smoother the image displayed.

This means that TVs with higher Hertz (Hz) or frequency rate, process images quicker and are therefore less blurry on screen.

Refresh Rates and processing rates

Other features

As well as the many technology features of televisions, there are several other features to consider in the purchase of a TV such as design, inbuilt features and the connections available.
Design is key as new designs are impacting modern TV viewing. Additionally you may consider the availability and variety of extra channels through inbuilt tuners or perhaps the connections present to connect your various devices such as a games console, laptop or sound system.

Design

Design is one of the biggest developments in recent years with TVs especially with TVs getting slimmer and slimmer - design features are growing at a rapid rate.

The borders of TVs (known as the bezel), are now thinner than ever and have gone from being chunky thick black borders to stylish 5 mm thick, aluminium borders. In addition, the stands on TVs (known as the pedestals) have become a great new design feature on modern TVs.

All of this means that your TV really is now a piece of furniture in your home – looking good when switched off too!

Slim televisions

Tuner

You can get different services for free for your television with an aerial or satellite.

Some services are built-in while others, you will need to purchase an additional device to receive content.

Aerial service Aerials

Freeview logo Access upto 50 channels with an aerial.

Freeview HD logo Access up to 50 channels with an aerialin high definition (HD)

Youview logo TV on demand when you want it

Satellite service Satellite

Freesat logo Subscription free satellite TV in high definition (HD).

Freetime logo On demand TV and satellite TV when you want it



There are also other paid for services including Virgin Media and SKY HD.

Connections

As we buy more and more new products, the number of new connections we require from our televisions increases. Knowing what each connection does is important so as to maximise the TVs functionality and use it to the best of its ability.

HDMI HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface).

Currently most commonly used with home cinema systems, Blu-ray players, laptops and games consoles; having multiple HDMI connections can be beneficial in getting the most out of your TV. Think about the amount of HDMI connections you require for the amount of devices that you will need to connect.

Scart Scart

A common connector of the nineties used to connect a VHS player to the television, SCART connectors are being superseded by HDMI capabilities..

USB USB

As all digital products are becoming smarter, connecting a network of devices together becomes more important. With USB capabilities present on most new TVs, USB connectors allows you to connect your digital camera to view photos, watch movies from a USB stick or external hard drive, connect wirelessly to the network with a WiFi dongle or Smart Adapter, and more.

Optical Optical (TOSLINK)

This is very important if you are thinking about getting or have a home cinema system in place. An optical (TOSLINK) connection allows you to connect your TV through an inbuilt television amp or external amp, so that you are able to enjoy what you're watching with big sound to match.

VGA VGA (Laptop connection)

Having a big television screen is great for big moments. Rather than watching your favourite downloads, videos or photos on a small laptop screen, using a VGA connection, you can connect it to compatible large screen TVs for the bigger picture.

Ethernet Ethernet (LAN or Network) connection

This can be the fastest connection between your broadband and Smart TV. For easy connection to the internet or network, see our Smart TVs section and discover how to connect your Smart TV.

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