Your Ultimate 2021 TV Buying Guide!
Over the holidays, I’ve had the luxury, if I may even call it that, to shop for a television. There were so many TVs on-sale and with the untrained eye, they will all appear equally good. This 2021 TV Buying Guide will give you all that you’ll need when shopping around for your next TV.
My friend who accompanied me to the store, however, was overwhelmed and confused with all the different specs. Luckily for him, being the owner of several newer TVs, I was able to guide him with his purchase.
Keeping things very simple as can be, this guide will be written in short and concise manner to help you understand the different things to consider when shopping or wanting to understand more about the latest TVs. In my opinion, it’s likely you’ll be only worried about a few things that really matter which is picture quality, size and additional features. To the common folks, you would be most happy without having to blow your wallet just to say you’ve got the latest and greatest TV in the market. You would be just as happy with a mid-range TV since to the naked eye, the difference would be comparable.
2021 TV Buying Guide - Shopping Comparison Checklist
It’s always best to have a checklist of some sort to help you compare with other brands and models when shopping for TVs. Here are the a few things to compare when looking at different TVs to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck!
Feel free to print or write down this list when heading to the electronic store!
For more information, continue reading below.
2. Screen Technology
3. TV Size
5. SMART TV Features
6. Refresh Rate
7. Brand (year)
1. TV Resolution
First thing people talk about when discussing TVs is the picture quality. Over the years, screen resolution has come a very long way. There are 3 things to look when evaluating TV resolution measures.
- Resolution – The type of screen resolution technology (HD, UHD, etc.,)
- Resolution lines – The number of vertical and horizontal lines on the TV (720 P, 1080 p, 2160 p etc.,)
- Pixels – is the smallest representative unit of a digital image.
Picture clarity and quality is dictated by both the resolution lines and pixels. The more pixels on the TV, the more lifelike the picture will be on screen. With more resolution lines, it will allow for pixels to be plotted on the screens.
See reference table for details:
Lines of resolution
|High definition (HD)||720p||921,600|
|Full HD||1080p||2.1 million|
|4K UHD (Ultra HD)||2160p||8 million|
|8K UHD (Ultra HD)||4320p||33 million|
2. Screen Technology
If you are looking for TVs at your local retail store, they are will find that the TVs are either one of the three main technologies listed below.
LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes and uses back light to project pictures through an LCD panel. It is the lower quality of the 3, but no means shabby. You will find more affordable TVs and wider selection since it’s been around the longest.
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diodes and will produce more vibrant colors and greater contrast, with improved viewing angles. These TVs are in the mid-range in terms of price and quality. They are typically slimmer and run on lower energy consumption compared to LEDs.
QLED – stands for Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode and has the highest color output resulting in true-to-life colors and most beautiful picture output. As you would imagine, QLED is the most expensive TV you can buy.
3. TV Size
Bigger is not always better. This would apply to buying TVs. You want to make sure the larger you go, it has the resolution as well.
The second factor to consider is how far you will be sitting away from the screen. If you’re in a small room, it wouldn’t make sense to have a very large TV. You want to make sure you’re not sitting too close where you will notice individual pixels and horizontal bars. You also don’t want to sit too far where you’ll miss the beautiful HD quality.
Recommendation: Sony’s Recommended Viewing Distance for TVs
In recent years, it’s not hard to notice how much thinner and lighter the larger TVs have become. Beware of older TV models which may have thicker bezels (the border around the screen) and thicker overall.
Newer TVs are much sleeker, offering a much thinner bezel and lighter as well.
In comparison, the newer 65 inch TV with thinner bezel can be the same size of an older 55 inch TV model.
5. SMART TV
In this day and age, it’s not surprising to see TVs equipped with Internet integration. Smart TVs can connect to the Internet offering you many services and features much like a computer would.
Each TV manufacturer will have their own set of applications your TV can run. When comparing TVs, make sure you are content with the app offerings.
Today, manufacturers such as LG smart TVs will include the webOS, Samsung has their unique Smart Hub, and VIZIO TVs let you launch popular apps directly from the screen using the remote.
Here are some examples
6. Refresh Rate
One important aspect to picture quality is how quickly the images are being refreshed on screen to ensure a smooth picture transition.
The higher the native refresh rate, the less motion blur.
There are three common Refresh Rates, which includes the 60 Hz, 120 Hz, and 240 Hz.
Aside from just the refresh rate, you will need to take into account the manufacturer’s proprietary technologies to either compensate or enhance the refresh rate. For example, Samsung has Motion Rate technology and LG has TruMotion technology.
In hindsight, unless you’re really spending majority of your time watching fast-pace movies or playing a ton of video games, a 60 Hz should be sufficient (except for for PS5 & Xbox Series X) Otherwise, I would recommend going with the higher Hz so there’s no impact to motion quality when viewing the TV.
Useful Link: What is Refresh Rate in Modern TVs?
7. Brand and Year
This is a very debatable subject on who is the top TV manufacturer. With that being said, this section will not be focused on determining that. Instead, for the casual TV viewers, they may be able to get away with the mid-range TVs.
Over the years, Sony, LG, and Samsung have been reigning the TV markets based on sales. As new competition enters the market, offering similar features at a much lower cost, they are starting to reshape the industry.
When comparing TVs, it’s also good to consider a reputable brand that has been around which will mean you’ll receive proper support and warranty should there be any issues with your purchase.
The year in which the TV was released will also have an impact on the TV you’re getting. Those things include the sleekness and appearance of the TV. Newer TVs are much slimmer and lightweight compared to the older models. Lastly, the newer TVs are likely to incorporate the latest technologies.
It’s worth mentioning, Samsung, Sony, and LG has been a heavyweight in the TV market for a long time. VIZIO, and Toshiba is right in the middle with TCL, RCA, Sharp and Westinghouse are stiff competitions.
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8. Price (Budget)
Lastly, there’s the price of the TV and budget you’re willing to pay when shopping for your next TV. When making comparisons, this is a very important criteria used to compare against the TVs you’re interested in.
I think as long as the TVs being compared to are within a $100 range, they should be pretty comparable. This takes into consideration the top-end TV brands against the low-to-mid range brands.
Televisions are typically on sale during special events. Here are the 4 best times in the year to start looking for a new TV.
- Superbowl Season starts in January until Superbowl day.
- Spring when TV manufacturers release their new models which happens around March and April. This will also mean older models will be discounted. If you aren’t looking for the latest and greatest, this would be an excellent time to start shopping for your TV.
- Black Friday, basically right after Thanksgiving. There have been sales that have slashed prices by 50%, according to a pricing analysis by Consumer Reports.
2021 TV Buying Guide Final Thoughts
Technology is moving faster than it ever has. Just like anything else, the TV you’re purchasing today will become outdated in the next few months, especially when TV manufacturers release the next generation of TV technologies.
With that being said, take what is important to you and compare against those criteria without overthinking it. Enjoy the TV for what it’s worth since there will always be something better coming out soon if not already.
Hopefully, you’ll have a better understanding of the terminology and less confused for when you’re searching for your next TV for your home or office.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below. Anything you’d like to share or update are welcome.