Buying New TV-What Criteria Should I Use?

  Big L 266 15:14 01 Sep 2008

Hello.My old TV needs replacing.All I keep seeing are these new flat ones in various sizes from 19" to 60" with many stickers on them saying what they do.Most of it goes over my head sadly as its 10 years since I last bought a standard tube 26" Grundig.

I know they mainly come with Freeview which I already have.Beyond that,I've had it!I don't like 'letterbox' tvs at all but like the more 'squarer' ones in my local Co-op.I haven't a clue what make to buy,how much to spend,what features it comes with,what 'aspect ratio' is,or even what defines good from great and poor value and performance with great value and performance.

May I please ask you to help me out with what you have in your home and what the criteria was for your purchase? I'm in need of some real solid easy-to-understand, virtual jargon-free advice!

Thank you very much for any help and assistance in this matter.I appreciate your help.

  version8 15:52 01 Sep 2008

HD compatable would be a start.

  spuds 16:26 01 Sep 2008

Glad you posted this Big L 266.

Last week we visited our local Coop superstore, and had a look at their limited range of televisions. Asked the sales assistant for further advice and information, and wished we hadn't. I came out of the store even more confused. Thought about giving Argos a try, their catalogue seems to cover a fair wider range.

  oresome 17:14 01 Sep 2008

Forget the squarer shaped screens. You now need a widescreen TV which matches the transmission format. You might have been put off in the past with broad shouldered newsreaders etc, but the picture geometry will now be OK in the main.

Decide on your budget and the size of screen required to narrow the choice.

What source material will you be viewing? There's no high definition on freeview now or for quite some time. If you get a large screen, it will show up the shortcomings of the present freeview system. Make sure you view the TV using the source you will be using at home and are satisfied with the picture quality. A satellite service will be needed for high definition broadcasts at extra cost if you want the highest quality.

  Big L 266 17:29 01 Sep 2008

Hello.To answer your last question first,I'm not a great TV watcher.I tend to watch news and documentaries and selected light entertainment programmes. I do like some films as well.All I intend to watch it through is a new aerial which is going up on Friday.I have no desire to watch in HD and certainly don't want satellite.So I guess I'll be watching on Freeview? Widescreen in my local Co-op when its on makes everything,and everyone,look as though they've be squashed up at both ends. Everything looks odd on it to me and can only presume all widescreens are the same.

I've no idea about budgets and sizes of screens at the moment.I don't anyone with either sqaure or widescreen tvs of this modern generation. I am loathe to spend anything on this anyway because I cannot get a suitable older-style tv.

I hope this additional information will help you and others in my quest for something a little better in the 21st century! Thank you.

  Dizzy Bob 17:30 01 Sep 2008

Hi Big L 266,

As oresome says, the first three things to decide are:

1. What size. This will need to fit the space that you have available (i know that sounds really obvious, but trust me they always look bigger at home than in the shop!) Try sellotaping some newspaper together to th approximate size (remember that screens are measured corner to corner) and hold or tape the newspaper where the TV will go. Then go and sit on your sofa. How does it look?

2. What source. Almost all new TV's will have freeview built in. This will give you about 70 channels (including shopping channels). I assume that as you have a freeview box already that your reception is ok. Other sources may include a TV provider such as Sky or Virgin, DVD player, VCR etc. High Definition broadcasts are currently only available from Sky (pay monthly) Virgin (Pay Monthly) or Freesat (pay for equipment only - no subscription). It is important to know what you are likely to want to plug into the TV so you can check it has the appropriate connections available.

3. What budget. No point in choosing a 60" all singing TV withh a budget of £500.

When you have that clear in your mind you can move on to the next stage.


  Dizzy Bob 17:42 01 Sep 2008


Size. The size you choose will probably dicate the type of TV you buy. Plasma TVs tend t be in the larger sizes only now.

TVs are more competitively priced at the 'standard' sizes, 32" and 40" for LCD, 42", 50" for Plasma although there are some exceptions.

Plasma Vs LCD

You could probably fill a book on this subject alone, but here goes.

LCD TV's work with a backlight shining through a series of liquid crystals. An electric currenn is passed though the crystals causing them to 'bend' and produce the different colours of the spectrum. Think of it as a bit like a venetian blind with the sun behind it. LCD TVs tend to have a sharper, brighter picture, and are (in my opinion) better suited to 'everyday' TV ie, soaps, news etc.

Plasma TV's work by having lots of little bubbles of gas in a glass 'sandwich' by passing an electric current through them, the phosphor in the bubbles glows a different colour creating the picture (a bit like a flourescent light bulb) Plasma TVs tend to have a warmer, more lifelike picture making them ideal (again IMO) for sports and movies.

Both types of TV now have similar power consumptions, and similar screen life.

All flat screen TVs lose brightness over time, screen life is generally measured by the length of time it takes to lose 50% of its brightness. Most modern TVs would now be expected to have a screen life of 50,000 hours plus.


1. How big?
2. What source?
3. What budget
4. What type of programmes do you like to watch?


  Dizzy Bob 18:01 01 Sep 2008

What will you plug into it?

Do you have a DVD player, Playstation, VCR etc to plug in? Consider the coonnections.

Most TVs will have a composite connection (red, yellow and white holes) SCART connections (long flat oblong shape) component connections (blue, green and red holes)and a HDMI (high definition multimedia interface)hole. Some TVs will also have a VGA connection (like the one on a PC monitor so ou can connect your computer to the TV.

Most modern AV equipment will use HDMI as the main connection, and going forwards this will tke over from SCART as the standard.

So, make sure you have he connections that you need now, and think about what else you may wish to connect in the future.

Personally i wouldd suggest 2 x SCART, and 3 x HDMI as a minimum.

Picture quality. Without a high definition feed, the picture quality will be OK at best particularly on bigger screens. There are 2 types of HD screen. HD Ready screens are typically 1366 x 768 resolution, 'Full' HD screens are typically 1920 x 1080 resolution however the picture you get out will only be as good as the source you put in.

An HD feed from Sky of Virgin will be at the lower HD standard, from a Blu-ray DVD it will be at the higher standard. So if you are never goingto cnnect a blu-ray player to it, do you need to pay extra for full HD (1080p)

Finally, brands. I believe (although i am wiling to be corrected) that Samsung, LG and Panasonic are the only manufacturers who actually make their own screens, most others are produced under a 'joint venture' (Sony and Samsung for example)

Personally i have always been impressed with the Samsung products, and the new Panasonics look great.

Go to a store, look at the TVs but NOT on the in store demo channel, and not with an animation playing (shrek etc). Put it on a channel that you would normally watch. Compare the picture on several channels and several TVs.

Finally finally, dont skimp on the cables, no point spending £££££ on a fantastic TV and hen using a £2.99 cable to plug it in!!

If you need anthing else, drop me a note by the yellow envelope as my fingers are falling off now (and i have to go back to work!)

Hope his helps.


  Dizzy Bob 18:03 01 Sep 2008

ps, apologies for the multiple typos, the batteries are going in my keyboard!!

  oresome 18:09 01 Sep 2008

Big L 266,

Most TV's are now widescreen and have various options within the menu as to how to display different broadcasts.

Transmissions in widescreen format should be shown in the correct geometry. If it's a cinema film being shown, there may still be gaps top and bottom. If it's an older 4:3
programme being broadcast, I think you can have the choice of a gap at either side of the screen or fill the screen out with a distorted picture.

I'd make the salesman work for his money! If you don't like the picture, ask him to alter it. If it can't be altered to your satisfaction walk away.

  citadel 19:11 01 Sep 2008

I went to currys where there are many to choose from and got the one that I thought had the best picture. It was a samsung with hd and freeview.

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