There has never been a better time than now to purchase a large flat screen TV to replace your old plasma set. Prices across the board have spiraled downward. You might think that selecting a new flat screen TV would be easy. However, having recently found myself in a position to buy a larger flat screen TV, I quickly discovered just how confusing it could be. I was completely overwhelmed by all of the choices that were available.
It’s easy to get swept away by all of the hype and techno-babble associated with flat screen television sets. With options like UHD, HD, 4K, 8K, OLED, QLED, LCD, LED, and HDR, the list of acronyms can be mind-boggling.
Marketing labels for 4K televisions include Ultra HD (UHD), Quad Full High Definition (QFHD), 2160p, and Quad Resolution. Once you see all those terms and acronyms bandied about, you’ll soon realize that they are designed to sound more impressive than they really are.
I set out to buy the best flat-screen television I could afford for the least amount of money. I started by researching the following:
- What size flat-screen would I really need?
- What’s up with all of the acronyms?
- Curved-screen or flat?
- What are some of the special features, and do I really need them?
- Will I need someone to come set it up for me?
What size flat-screen television should I get?
Can you really buy a flat-screen television that’s too big?
Personally, I wouldn’t think so, but that’s because I enjoy watching movies in all their cinematic glory. If movies were all I watched, the research suggests that bigger is, indeed, better. However, what if I were to spend most of my time watching regular television, or sports events?
If that were the case, it would be possible to get a screen that is too big to comfortably watch – even to the point of creating motion sickness in some people. In that case, you may want to consider getting a smaller flat-screen panel or adding more distance between the television and you.
It’s all about the pixels which, according to Merriam-Webster’s definition is “any of the small discrete elements that together constitute an image (as on a television or computer screen)”. Megapixels are equivalent to about one-millionth of a pixel. Breaking it down even further, 1080p equals 2.1 megapixels, 4K is equivalent to about 8.5 pixels or 4 times that of a 1080p, and 8K is 33.2 megapixels or 4 times that of a 4K.
It boils down to resolution vs distance
Here’s what I’ve learned. There is a lot of science involved in determining the best size. Things like the human field of vision, television resolution, and other factors are determined by the Guidelines from the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers.
Essentially, the lower the resolution, say 1080p, for example, the farther back you’ll need to sit to enjoy the show without your eyes picking up on the individual pixels. On the other hand, you can get very close to a 4K flat screen TV before you begin to notice the pixelation. The resolution on 8K televisions, which aren’t yet available but will be going on sale soon, is so phenomenal that research says the resolution is nearly equivalent to that of the human eye.
Curved vs flat-screen panel
Curved-screen televisions look pretty neat, but they also cost more. The question I had to ask myself was “is a curved panel worth spending the extra money?” Or, should I just save what I would spend on a curved-screen and apply it towards a larger flat-screen? I went to a television showroom at one of the big box retail stores to do a little “eyes-on” research.
The conclusion I came to is that a curved-screen television would make a visually beautiful statement in my living room as long as it is 65-inches or larger. Any less than that and the curve would be more of a distraction than a benefit.
As a matter of fact, the larger the curved-screen television, the greater that immersive, cinematic feel that we all long for will be. The drawback is that the view from the sides can become washed-out and distorted. So, if you have a small room where someone might watch the television from the sides, they might miss out on the experience.
The consensus on my research suggests that a curved-screen is more of a novelty than anything else.
QLED or OLED?
Two different processing technologies make up the brains of the top-selling high-end 4K flat screen TVs. Organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels, which are manufactured solely by LG, and QLED or Quantum dot infused LED panels, which are solely manufactured by Samsung.
A 4K OLED flat-screen panel is actually made up of millions of tiny individual diodes that are thin and flexible. Each diode is individually electrified to produce its own light. This technology is why you’ll find the contrast and colors to be so vivid. OLED screens also provide better viewing from the side than the QLED.
QLED’s are light-emitting diode (LED) televisions that use quantum dots to improve the picture quality upon a flat screen TV. Just like regular LED flat-screen panels, this technology relies on backlighting. If you’re a real videophile, you may opt for an OLED, because the contrast and blacks are going to be much more pronounced. However, if you’re the average television watcher, the picture is still going to be pretty remarkable, especially when compared to a standard LED flat-screen panel.
The OLED flat-screen boasts a more pronounced contrast which works well in low lighting. The QLED, while it doesn’t display as much contrast, will come across as brighter, which works well for those who watch television throughout the day.
If you’re still torn between QLED or OLED, the size of the screen may help you to decide which one to choose. Right now, the largest OLED that you can purchase is an 88-inch screen. QLEDs can be much larger than that at 100-plus inches. In addition, if you’re energy-conscious, OLEDs are going to be more efficient.
LED or LCD?
While you may think these are two different types of flat-screen panels, actually LED is what is used to backlight the LCD televisions. So, long story short, LED and LCD televisions are essentially the same. The LCD panel is comprised of a liquid crystal solution between two polarizing layers. When electricity is sent through the panel, the crystals will allow the light to go through or block the light accordingly.
The picture that you see on a 4K Ultra HD LCD television, while very nice, will never come across as crisp and vivid as the OLED or QLED. The blacks on an LCD flat-screen, for instance, will always have a bit of a glow because of the backlighting. However, these are certainly a more budget-friendly choice. A 65-inch LCD flat screen TV can be purchased for as little as $600.
“Smart” or standard?
What makes a television “smart”?
A “smart” television is loaded with apps like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Pandora, with access to hundreds of other apps. All you’ll need to have to access these “smart” features will be an internet connection. Many of the higher-end televisions also respond to voice-activated artificial intelligence (AI) technology like Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.
However, prices are particularly attractive on televisions that aren’t “smart”. That’s actually a pretty good option to go with if you already own a device that can make your television “smart”. For instance, I have a Microsoft Xbox that I have attached to my old 2010 flat-screen set. With that, I can access all of the features that make a television “smart” through the Xbox system.
In addition to game systems like Nintendo Wii or the Sony PlayStation, there are other devices that can make your television “smart”, like a ROKU, for instance. You can buy a ROKU for around $40. Reasonably priced blue-ray players that you can pick up for around $50 that will make your television “smart” as well.
How long can you expect your new television to last?
The OLED, QLED, and LED televisions are all built to last many years. Rather than just die one day, they’ll simply lose their brightness over time.
Will I need to have a professional mount my screen?
You can certainly mount and set up your television yourself depending upon how handy you may or may not be. However, it might be easier to have a professional do the work for you. Professional television installation will generally cost less than $100. The installer can securely fasten your set onto your wall, hide the wires within the walls, and calibrate your television.
So, after I finished my research, I was hoping to go with at least a 65-inch television, but which one? It was time to decide upon one of these three flat-screen televisions:
- Samsung QN65Q7C Curved 65” QLED 4K UHD 7 Series Smart TV
- LG Electronics OLED65C8PUA 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD
- Sceptre 65" 4K Ultra HD 2160p LED
Best Flat Screen TV Winner: LG Electronics OLED65C8PUA 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
I decided upon the LG Electronics OLED65C8PUA 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV. All three of the flat-screen televisions that I considered would do well in my home. However, I always like to buy the best that I can afford at the time. The idea is that I won’t have to or want to replace it anytime soon.
LG makes great appliances and this LG Electronics OLED65C8PUA 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV sort of won me over. LG uses Google Assistant, but it also works well with Amazon’s Alexa. That’s good because I have other devices that use this type of artificial intelligence as well.
But, that AI stuff is just icing on top of a really beautiful cake.
I ended up opting for LG’s 4K OLED technology which I feel is really the leading technology right now.
The brains of this television consist of LG’s a9 processor which creates an absolutely stunning visual experience. Because of the OLED technology, I found the vivid sharpness and contrast created by diodes to be totally immersive – making the picture not only lifelike, but better than lifelike.
The LG Electronics Ultra HD Smart OLED TV display offers an incredible range of vivid colors, and inky blacks with detail that virtually popped off of the screen.
With a big, beautiful picture it’s only fitting that it should come with a big, beautiful sound. This flat screen TV does just that. It comes with Dolby Atmos that creates a cinema-like surround sound. Who knew watching television at home could be so much fun? I’ll be able to postpone purchasing a surround sound system for a while.
However, when I do get ready to move up to an even bigger surround sound system, my first choice will be the Bose Lifestyle 650.
In addition to the quality of its picture, it is both very thin and relatively lightweight. It weighs just 56 pounds and measures 9.1 x 57 x 34.7 inches. LG offers a TV size chart to help you choose the best size for the space you have.
For a 10 x 12 living room such as mine, a 65-inch television is pretty optimal. The recommended minimum viewing distance for a room that size is 8.10 feet and the maximum viewing distance being 13.50 feet. Of course, all that’s totally subjective, as I mentioned above. Based on their size chart, I could conceivably go up to 75-inch.
I have devices that can help make whatever television I choose “smart”. However, I found that flat-screens in the $1000 and up price range invariably come with that technology already embedded.
Now, that I have this gorgeous flat-screen mounted on my wall, I think I’m going to have to buy a more comfortable recliner. I have a feeling I’m going to be spending a lot more time in it.
Flaws But Not a Deal Breaker
This is actually not a reflection on the product. However, display is only going to be as good as your media platform. Unless you have access to 4K high-resolution entertainment, the quality of the picture you see in the showroom is probably not going to be what you see on your flat screen TV.
Best Flat Screen TV Runner-Up: Samsung QN65Q7C Curved 65” QLED 4K UHD 7 Series Smart television
The Samsung QN65Q7C Curved 65” QLED 4K UHD 7 Series Smart television was my choice for second runner-up. I’ve always thought that having a curved television would create a truly immersive, cinematic experience. An anti-glare display makes it easy to see in a brightly-lit room. It also helps to avoid that annoying reflection of background windows on the screen.
One really unique feature of this model is that it can be put into an “ambient” mode. When you’re not watching it, the flat-screen resembles an actual picture hanging on the wall.
Another feature of this flat screen TV is that there is something called a “connect box”. It is designed to keep those unsightly wires that connect all the components out of sight. Best of all, it simplifies the whole set-up process.
Flaws But Not a Deal Breaker
A curved-screen television looks pretty cool on the showroom floor. However, unless you have home theater-style seating in your home, it would be more of an unnecessary feature. If you positioned yourself in the perfect spot in front of the curved screen, it would be amazing. But, what if you’re lying across your couch at home in not such a perfect viewing spot? Would it be as wonderful then?
Keep your space in mind and the people who will likely be watching tv.
Best Flat Screen TV Honorable Mention: Sceptre 65" 4K Ultra HD 2160p LED 4x HDMI 2.0 HDTV 3840x2160
The Sceptre 65" 4K Ultra HD 2160p LED 4x HDMI 2.0 HDTV 3840x2160 would have done the least amount of damage to my budget, to be sure. However, of my three choices, this one offers the least features. This is great if you’re just wanting to upgrade, but don’t need all of the bells and whistles. This television sells for less than $600.
At 70 pounds, the Sceptre 65″ 4K Ultra HD 2160p LED 4x HDMI 2.0 HDTV 3840×2160 is quite a bit heavier than LG’s OLED. It measures 57 x 10 x 35, making it only slightly larger than the LG OLED.
Flaws But Not a Deal Breaker
I had a pretty decent budget with which to purchase a flat screen TV. However, I was keeping my options open by considering this Sceptre 65″ 4K Ultra HD. If I only had a $600 budget to work with, I would have definitely considered this flat-screen panel.
For the money though, it would be really hard to beat the Spectre.
Purchasing a television can be very much like purchasing a car for many people. If we’re not careful, we can make it emotional. It’s easy to get swept away by the beauty and excitement of the high-definition displays with all of their intuitive features.
The key to buying the perfect flat-screen television that your family and your budget will be happy with is to do your homework. Study the reviews written by the experts and consumers alike. Arm yourself with knowledge about the different technologies. Use that information to narrow your choices down before you walk into that home entertainment showroom.