Make sense of TV tech with our jargon buster
Looking for a new TV but bamboozled by all the tech? Our TV jargon buster is brimming with plain English explanations…
26 Feb 2016
Full HD or 4K UHD? OLED vs LED? And what is Smart? There’s a lot of jargon to understand when buying a new TV.
Here are the things customers often ask about in-store, explained in easy to understand, jargon-free language.
TV screens are called display panels. The two main types of screen are LED and OLED.
What is it? The TV panel is made up of LCD, or liquid crystal, pixels. These pixels are illuminated by tiny LED lights to create your TV’s picture. LED stands for light-emitting diode.
Why go LED?
- Most 4K UHD and Full HD TVs are LED
- Cheaper to buy than OLED
- Excellent picture quality
What is it? OLED displays are cutting-edge. They’re made up of pixels that can illuminate themselves without the need for any LED backlights. Hence the name organic light-emitting diode. LG is known for its OLED TVs.
Why go OLED?
- Extremely thin screens as there’s no backlight
- Superb picture - deep blacks and vibrant colour
- Perfect for watching football thanks to lack of motion blur
What is it? A TV picture is a series of images shown at high speed – like a flipbook. The faster the images flash up on screen, the smoother the picture. The processing rate tells you how fast that happens. It’s measured in hertz (Hz) – the higher the number the better.
Why go for high processing rate?
The picture will be smoother and less blurry – important for watching football
Resolution and picture quality
Your TV’s picture quality is decided by its resolution, as well as the type of screen and other tech.
What’s resolution? The number of pixels that make up your TV’s picture, measured up and across the screen. The higher the numbers, the better the picture.
What is it? Your current TV is likely to be Full HD (unless you’ve upgraded to 4K UHD). Full HD is a screen resolution, it’s also known as 1080p. Full HD TVs have over 2 million pixels (1920p horizontally x 1080p vertically).
4K Ultra HD
What is it? The TV technology of the day. 4K UHD resolution is fast replacing Full HD. It is 4 times the resolution of Full HD. 4K TVs have more than 8 million pixels (3840p horizontally x 2160p vertically).
Why go 4K UHD?
- More detail - 4 times sharper than Full HD
- Brighter colours
- Lots of 4K content
- Upscales HD content to near-4K quality
Ultra HD Premium
What is it? A sticker on high-end 4K TVs that shows they meet certain requirements for picture quality and audio. It was developed by the UHD Alliance, which includes Netflix and Samsung.
Why go Ultra HD Premium?
- Peace of mind – see the sticker and know you’re getting the best
- Excellent picture quality – minimum standards for HDR (see below), resolution and colour depth and range
- Ultra HD Premium from 2016 TVs onwards
High Dynamic Range
What is it? A new picture technology that improves the quality of pixels to give 4K and OLED TVs even better contrast. It’s a major TV trend for 2016 and will be found in many new flagship sets.
Why go HDR?
- Better contrast for deeper blacks and brighter whites
- Detailed areas like clouds and grass are more vivid
What is it? Quantum dots are tiny crystals that glow when light is shone on them. TV manufacturers are now adding a layer of these quantum dots in front of the backlight. They’re found in Samsung’s 2016 TVs.
Why go quantum dot?
- Capable of more than 1 billion colours
- More accurate, natural colours
Connectivity and future-proofing
There’s no point having a super-sharp TV if you can’t watch anything on it. Make sure your telly has the right connectivity tech
What is it? Most modern TVs are now Smart – it means they’re connected to your home Wi-Fi so you can easily stream online content.
Why go Smart?
- Stream Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more to your TV
- No need to buy a separate streaming box/stick
- Play videos from your phone on your TV
Native 4K content
What is it? To get the best from your 4K TV you need proper 4K content. These are TV shows, films and channels that are recorded or broadcast in 4K resolution.
Types of 4K content
- Netflix and Amazon Prime 4K streaming
- BT Sport Ultra HD channel for watching football
- Ultra HD Blu-ray for an unparalleled movie experience
TV features needed for watching 4K content
- HDMI 2.0: want to watch Ultra HD Blu-ray on your 4K UHD TV? Make sure it has this latest version of the humble HDMI port.
- High-efficiency video coding: Want to stream Netflix or Amazon in 4K? Your TV needs to have HEVC H.265 compression format.