Over the past ten years ever since the first plasma television went on sale the whole of the global community have gone crazy for super-thin TV’s. Like almost any machine within the technology industry, televisions have advanced enormously with new features and right now, in 2013, the greatest ever TV’s are upon us; the question is, what do all of these new features really mean?
Well, we’ve tested our fair share of TV’s over the past 7 years and I’m personally considered by those who know me as a little bit of a TV junkie; by that I mean I use my televisions an awful lot and in recent times I have changed my TV every 6 – 12 months due to becoming either bored of its design or because of a new feature coming out which I simply must have. Of course, I’m also a technology reviewer, so my taste for the very latest kit sends me on trips to computer stores and specialist boutiques quite regularly.
Without further ado then here is everything you need to know about the latest features within televisions being sold at a store near you.
Before you rush out and buy a HDTV you need to look out for a sticker which says ‘HD ready’ on it. HD ready means that your TV does not natively scan the airwaves for HD channels, you will have to have an external box for this. HD ready TV’s are generally not a great purchase for a lot of people, because it will only display a HD picture if a HD source is input in to it. What’s more, HD ready TV’s do not always support full HD 1080p and usually only support the lesser 720p resolution. With that said, HD ready TV’s are very affordable televisions, so if you already have a HD set top box, this should be fine. Television channels are not broadcast in full 1080p HD, anyway, however Blu-Ray discs and some games are.
HD ready branded televisions are most usually those of the smaller display variety, at under 32-inches.
When a TV is sold as ‘full HD’ this means that the television set is capable of displaying a picture at 720p/1080i/1080p. This does not mean however that it will natively scan for digital channels and pick up HD channels, for this, you need to look for a TV marked ‘Freeview HD’ or ‘Freesat HD’. If you have a HD television package from Virgin or Sky, though, this will not matter. Full HD TV’s have a resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is around 2 megapixels. Most televisions sold nowadays are full HD.
With thanks to excellent display technology, full HD LED TV’s are now considered to be the very best televisions money can buy due to picture quality, vibrancy and power efficiency.
Ultra High-definition TV (Ultra HD)
This form of technology is not yet within any televisions on the market however it will be in the future. Ultra High-definition is the new and official name of 4K TV, a technology which allows televisions to display images and video 4 times crisper than the full HD we all love today. Numerous television manufacturers including LG, Samsung and Sony all have 4K TV’s in the pipeline. When they do become available for the average consumer however they will undoubtedly be very expensive bits of kit.
4K television coming to mass market is one of the most hotly anticipated developments within the consumer electronics market.
Gone are the days when if you wanted to watch a movie in 3D you had to take a trip down to your local IMAX cinema with a 3D film being available to watch. Now, you can watch 3DTV from the comfort of your own home, including 3D supported Blu-Ray’s and also regular TV if you have a 3D package from a selected service provider like Sky. Football and sports look amazing in 3D however there are two main types of 3DTV available; passive and active. Both of these require glasses to be worn by the viewer, and this is where the two types are different – active glasses use liquid crystal shutters that run on batteries, while passive glasses use simple polarizing lenses
Passive 3D glasses are cheaper than active glasses and passive technology is widely considered the way forward in terms of 3D TV’s of the future.
Apps have changed the way we access and consume content on a multitude of different devices. Smartphones, tablets and even computers have application stores which allow users to quickly grab content without the need to access it via a web browser. Apps make for a cleaner overall experience of services, too, and for some services apps are perfect for cross-compatibility on multiple devices. Smart TV’s feature their own little in-built hub which allows you to access services like Netflix, YouTube and Twitter all from your TV by using your remote control. Of course, an internet connection is required, and all Smart TV’s are able to connect to the internet.
There are two types of internet connection Smart TV’s have; WiFi or Dongle. WiFi TV’s are more expensive than their dongle loving counterparts.
WiFi ready / via Dongle
All Smart TV’s are internet ready however as touched upon above there are two main ways they can connect. Most Smart TV’s are WiFi ready, meaning you will simply have to input your broadband PIN in order to connect much like a laptop or smartphone. Other Smart TV’s (namely lower priced ones) do not include this feature, however, and have to be connected to the internet via a Dongle or LAN connection if your TV features a LAN port. Dongles usually are included in a Smart TV package or come as an optional extra. For all intents and purposes, a WiFi ready TV the simpler method over the two.
When shopping for a Smart TV be sure to check which models you like are WiFi ready. This is an excellent feature and will allow you to connect to the internet anywhere in your home.
Freeview and Freeview HD
Freeview and Freeview HD are fantastic services which allow you to enjoy digital television at absolutely no cost. That’s right; as amply noted in the services name, Freeview is ‘free’ for anybody and features over 50 of your best loved digital channels as well as tens of extra digital radio channels. Freeview HD features everything that is great about Freeview however you will also get access to HD channels. Freeview utilizes your televisions in-built aerial in order to deliver crystal clear content, and it is impeccably easy to set up straight from the box.
Freeview is a fantastic service available to anybody with a TV which features either of the services built in. Separate Freeview boxes can be had for as little as £20. The only drawback to Freeview is that in some areas the coverage is not that good, and signal loss or no channels at all may occur / be found. It is always best to check your area first.
Freesat and Freesat HD
The concept of free TV is the same for Freesat as it is for Freeview however Freesat is less common. Introduced by the BBC and ITV as a Freeview alternative in 2008, rather than use your TV’s aerial to grab a signal this service requires a set top box and a satellite dish in order to function. Freesat can be used with any pre-existing satellite dish on your property however if there isn’t one you will have to have one installed, a drawback to which has seen this service not take off as much as Freeview. Freesat features over 150 subscription-free digital TV and radio channels.
For the most part Freeview is a more practical alternative to Freesat for most people, especially if your TV has Freeview built straight in.
SRS Trusurround HD
Quite a lot of televisions feature SRS Trusurround HD however few boast about it. For sure, this technology is not a main selling point for any TV however it always pays to know what it is. So, what is it? Well, SRS Trusurround is a sound processing technology that enhances two speaker systems (i.e. your televisions). It offers surround sound virtualization for 1.0 to 6.1 input channels and up to 3.1 output channel configurations, as taken from the official website. In the real world, this technology enhances your listening experience by providing high‐frequency clarity enhancement, and is designed to provide the listener a virtual surround sound when only 2 speakers are utilized.
SRS Trusurround HD is one of those features which you will turn on and appreciate for a short while. After that, it becomes the norm, and reverting your TV’s speakers back from SRS results in a noticeable change. Whether that change is for the better or not is up to you, as all ears are different.
Energy efficiency class
As the name suggests the energy efficiency class of a television is a scale that manufacturers use to tell consumers how energy efficient any one particular model of television is. These range from A+, A, B, C, D, E, F and G with A+ being the highest achievement available. Most LED TV’s feature an energy rating of either A+ or A, most Plasma TV’s feature an energy rating of B and most LCD TV’s feature an energy rating of C. So in order of most efficient, the general consensus for us is that LED is best for energy efficiency, Plasma is second and LCD is third.
Many TV’s have advanced energy saving functions hidden away in menus. As such, your TV can only be as efficient as you tell it to be. Key energy saving tips include dimming the screen and of course selecting ‘eco mode’ or ‘power saver’ mode from your menu, if you can.
About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is the founder of Technology Blogged. 23, with a love for good writing, you'll find Jakk playing 'Drag Racing' on his Nexus 5 and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to his feed for unique editorials. View author profile.