Getting the big picture for the right new TV
As summer turns into fall, we often gravitate back inside our homes toward the powerful pull of our televisions. From favorite returning sitcoms to football games, the screen becomes a focal gathering place for friends and family.
Few purchases affect as many members of the household as the home entertainment hub. It’s the star attraction for family movie night, TV series binge watching and your Super Bowl party. So how is your TV holding up? Are you thinking about making the leap to a larger model or one that makes it feel as if you’re seated on the 50-yard line?
Maybe you’ve ventured out to look at new models only to become overwhelmed by details such as screen size, Ultra HD resolution and smart TVs. Purchasing the right television means sorting through all of those bells and whistles to find just the right entertainment options for your family.
Product reviews from online consumer guides show that TVs can sell for a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars. It all depends on your needs and your budget. Experts suggest doing your homework by researching major brands and reading reviews on technology sites like CNET.
Spend some time considering where the television will be used, how much room you have, whether you’ll mount it on the wall and how close you want to sit to it. Also think about what activities your family will use it for, such as gaming, watching movies, television shows or sporting events or streaming Internet content.
“The size of the television you want and how much money you want to spend determines the type of television that you’ll get,” says Brian Hugghins, owner of H. Customs Audio Video in Mansfield. “It’s about getting the best picture quality for the money.”
Some of the technical elements listed on new televisions can be confusing. Here’s a breakdown:
Size—TV screens range in size from less than 20 inches to 90 inches, with some new models even stretching 100 inches or more. Online technology web sites and local experts recommend at least a 50 to 60-inch screen for a main television.
Smart TV— These televisions have built-in web browsers and apps for popular streaming web entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.
HD/Ultra HD — Most current flat screen televisions are high-definition. Ultra HD TVs have an even higher-resolution screen that is capable of displaying more detail.
Pixels — A television’s resolution is measured in pixels, or individual picture elements: the greater the pixel density the finer the picture details. Most new HDTVs with screens greater than 40 inches have 1080p resolution.
Refresh rates — The number of times the screen image is refreshed per second. It is measured in hertz, so the label might read 60 HZ or 120 HZ. The higher the refresh rate, the smoother flow between images and better reduction of motion blur.
When it comes to size, many consumers believe the bigger, the better. That’s true to some extent, experts say. Larger screen sizes allow the viewer to appreciate the life-like content that makes high definition viewing look so real.
But a staggered approach is best for most homes, local experts say. They most often install larger, higher-quality sets in family and game rooms and work downward for smaller rooms.
Mansfield custom homebuilder Steve Boyd says some families now are installing multiple TV’s in common rooms and home offices to allow for several channels to be viewed at once. He recommends families consider how all areas of their homes will be used when they install or upgrade their entertainment systems.
Local technology experts also warn buyers not to be swayed by additional pricey features like curved screens, 3D models or 4K picture resolution.
“You can get lost in the numbers in a hurry,” says Tony Eastman, an owner of Summit Security in Dalworthington Gardens, who outfits local homes with technology and audio/visual. “You can spend a lot of money very quickly. But it might not be what you’ll get the most value out of. The engineers design televisions with these new features. You look at it on a demo and it looks great. It doesn’t mean that it will be good or reliable down the road.”
Hugghins encourages families to invest in features they’ll actually use when purchasing a television. For instance, Smart TVs with apps already installed may be duplicative if a family is going to purchase an external streaming device like Apple TV to do that.
“I’d rather see people buy the TV that they really need without a lot of extras and put that money into a good sound system for their televisions,” he says.
Investing in just the right new television set for your family means doing your homework, both in the types of products available and in how you’ll use them in your home. But the real payoff comes when everyone can enjoy that big purchase together.
Don’t Get Left Hanging
Advice for Wall-mounting a Television
Wall-mounted TVs have become popular in family rooms, game rooms and other areas of the home. But if you’re going to mount a TV, heed this advice from Tony Eastman, owner and A/V expert at Summit Security Company.
Top 5 tips for the DIYer on wall-mounting a television:
1. Not all mounts are created equal. Not all mounts work with all TVs. Sometimes the brackets on the mounts can interfere with power or signal cables.
2. A tilt mount can provide you with more room to adjust and hide cabling.
3. Consider hiring a professional installer to mount into brick. Inexperience can lead to costly mistakes.
4. With HDMI cables, a more expensive cable doesn’t necessarily translate to better quality - just fancier packaging.
5. When in doubt, call a professional.
Our Fall 2015 HomeStyle article discusses TV's in the home, and in light of that, we asked Mansfield residents and local influencers to share their favorite gameday recipes and party ideas. Read More »