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Here are the main points to consider when shopping for a new set, as well as the best TVs we've tested. The TV resolution question used to be between the options of p 1, by resolution, or just under one million pixels and p 1, by 1,, or just over two million pixels. Then it moved on to p versus Ultra HD, or 4K 3, by 2,, with eight million pixels.

Now it's no longer a question: 4K has become the standard for medium-sized and larger televisions from every major manufacturer. Realistically, you'd be hard-pressed to find a TV from a major brand larger than 40 inches that isn't 4K.

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In fact, every TV on this list is 4K. Nearly all 4K TVs have connected features that let you stream 4K content.

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These platforms are full of features and offer access to most major streaming services, along with features like voice assistants, local media streaming, and a variety of apps. If you have a very fast internet connection, you can watch some excellent shows on Amazon and Netflix in 4K and most new original programming on the services is being produced at that resolution.

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New films are also coming out digitally in 4K through various on-demand streaming services like Vudu. Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are a relatively new physical media format similar to Blu-ray discs. The good news is that it stores 4K video with HDR explained below , and even can handle advanced surround sound audio if your speaker system supports it. Since it's a physical media format, you don't need to worry about your internet connection to be sure you're getting 4K, either.

That's it. Don't worry about 8K for now.

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You might have heard about it, and the new HDMI 2. But 8K TVs aren't going to be meaningful for consumers for several years.

For the last few years major TV manufacturers have been showing off big-screen 8K TVs as proof-of-concept models, but they haven't become much more than that. Currently there are no 8K TVs available to buy in North America, and there aren't any on the horizon. Even by , that number will only hit , worldwide, of which only a fraction will be in North America. We'll start to see consumer 8K TVs sometime in the next few years as very high-end and expensive models strictly for early adopters. It will be another few years after that before 8K becomes the standard flagship TV characteristic, and even longer for 8K TVs to become affordable to most buyers.

There's also no consumer-ready 8K media available, and no major studios or distributors have even talked about releasing 8K movies or shows. There aren't even physical or streaming media standards that let 8K video be commercially released. Even if you can find an 8K TV, at best you'll be able to watch upconverted 4K video on it. So for the time being, don't worry about 8K suddenly replacing 4K. It won't happen anytime soon. While 4K is now established as a no-brainer, there's a new next-step video technology to consider when shopping for a TV.

High dynamic range HDR content gives much more information to the display than a standard video signal. The resolution remains the same as UHD, but the range of color and amount of light each pixel can produce is significantly broader. Thanks to new LCD and OLED panel technology, high-end televisions can display wider color gamuts and finer gradients of light and dark than before.

Standard video was built around the limitations of older televisions, intentionally using a set range of color and light information in the signal. HDR breaks those limitations and uses expanded ranges with finer values between them. Basically, this means HDR displays can produce more colors and more shades of gray or, rather, luminance values than standard dynamic range displays. HDR is still a developing technology, and it's easy to be confused by it.

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HDR 10 is an open platform that uses bit color values. Dolby Vision is a closed standard used by Dolby, which supports bit color and determines ranges in the signal it provides to a display on the fly, based on the display itself and the needs of the scene. Televisions that support Dolby Vision will note so on their packaging. We'll see how they are adopted in the future. Whether one standard is better than the other is difficult to determine at this point; HDR 10 uses more concrete values and is easier to technically evaluate, but Dolby Vision is designed to specifically fit the needs and limits of whatever television you use.

No matter which you use, HDR-capable televisions can produce a better picture than TVs that don't support the wider color gamuts or increased range of luminance information. This doesn't necessarily mean the prices for the current models will drop quickly, though. New TVs don't usually hit shelves until spring, so you're looking at a solid three or four months where you know what new TVs are coming out.


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If you can find deep discounts for the previous year's models in January, and you know they're good performers based on our reviews, you should go for them. Keep an eye out for sales around big sports events like the Super Bowl, or when football season is just starting. You might be able to find price cuts of a few hundred dollars or more. Like all sales, pay attention to which models are on sale; different tiers and series of TVs can have wildly different performance. Huge price slashes on Black Friday often promote budget or midrange televisions with seemingly big discounts, but their pictures might not be nearly as good as higher-end models.

Check the model numbers against the reviews for a good sense of whether the discount you see is worthwhile. It could be a steal, or it could be a disappointment.

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Performance among budget TVs varies wildly, and trends toward the mediocre. You'll find a few very good deals, like the TCL P-series that manages to combine excellent picture quality with a low price. You'll also find a sea of cheap TVs that don't measure up. Don't count on big names to be reliably high-quality in their budget lines, either. While companies like LG, Samsung, and Sony can make some incredible flagship TVs, their inexpensive models generally aren't any better than baseline models from more budget-centric brands like Element, Hisense, and TCL—and they're usually a bit more expensive.

As always, our reviews and the picture quality tests we perform can help you find a screen that doesn't trade quality for price. Plasma TVs were the only flat-panel models available when they were first introduced more than a decade ago. They're now a dead category, and you won't see a major television manufacturer offering a new plasma television any time soon.

LCD panels themselves aren't lit, so they need to be illuminated. There are further differences in the various designs. LED TVs can be either edge-lit or backlit. Edge-lit TVs light up their screens with arrays of LEDs along the edges of the panels, allowing the set to be thin and light. Backlit TVs use a large array of LEDs directly behind the panel, making the screen a little thicker, but allowing it to more evenly illuminate the panel and, for high-end screens, adjust individual LEDs to enhance black levels in scenes.

Very good edge-lighting systems can produce excellent pictures, though, and TV manufacturers are making backlit LED arrays smaller and thinner, so the distinction means less than it used to. No matter the technology, an LED TV's thinness and brightness will be roughly proportional to its price range. OLED organic light-emitting diode displays are a rare and very expensive technology for TVs, and despite their name are drastically different from LED-backlit televisions.

In fact, they're closer to plasma screens in how they work. Each diode generates both color and light, like in plasma screens, but they can be much smaller and thinner than even LED-lit panels, and can produce some of the best black levels possible. A big TV that's too close can be just as uncomfortable to watch as a small one that's too far away, so don't assume that the biggest screen available is the best choice.

There are a few different rules of thumb regarding TV screen size based on your distance from it. Generally, the distance of your couch to your TV should be between 1. So if your couch is six feet away from your screen, you can comfortably watch a TV between 42 and 60 inches. If your couch is five feet away, a to inch screen should work well. If you want the absolute biggest picture possible, you should think about getting a projector.

Most televisions have flat screens. Curved screens were a more prominent fad a few years ago, when several TV manufacturers Samsung in particular pushed curved televisions as premium products. Some manufacturers claimed that curved TVs offered some form of visual benefit.


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  • This doesn't reflect in our testing. Performance-wise, there is no reason to opt for a curved television screen. Whereas a smaller curved gaming monitor can provide a more immersive viewing experience for a single viewer, a curved TV can make it harder for large groups to get consistent picture quality.

    Those looking at the screen from an off-center angle may experience distortion. Design-wise, curved screens might look visually striking, but they certainly don't justify an increase in price over a similar flat TV. One of the biggest problems with narrowing your choices to a single TV is the sheer number of specs.

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    To make your job a little easier, two of the biggies, refresh rate and contrast ratio, are safe to ignore. Refresh or response rate, the speed at which your TV's panel refreshes its image, is expressed in hertz 60Hz, Hz, Hz, Hz, or Hz. The theory is that a faster refresh rate results in a smoother image.

    But in reality, there are several reasons this simply isn't true, and it's not worth paying more for a set with a faster response rate. In many cases, 60Hz will do just fine for films and Hz will be plenty for video games and sports though you should probably turn off those higher refresh rate modes when watching most shows and movies, or else you'll get that jarring soap opera effect.

    Contrast ratio, meanwhile, is the difference between the darkest black and the brightest white a panel can display. In theory, the highest contrast ratio possible is desirable since dark blacks and bright whites contribute to a high-quality picture. There isn't a standardized way for manufacturers to measure this spec, though, so Samsung's numbers aren't directly comparable with, say, Panasonic's or Sharp's numbers.

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