Everything looks nice on a better TV, but how can you choose the right TV for you? With so many types of televisions out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We’ve created a comprehensive guide featuring all of the television types out there.
Table of Contents
Types of Televisions by Technology
Technological advancements in the last few decades have enhanced our television viewing experience. But what are the options available today, and which one should you get? While your decision depends on your preferences and needs, let’s discuss each TV type by technology.
Quantum Light-Emitting Diode
Quantum light-emitting diode (QLED) displays are the newest types of televisions on the market. These next-generation TVs use nanoparticles in the LCD to improve color and brightness.
OLEDs shave better contrast ratios over QLEDs, but QLED screens are larger and aren’t prone to burn-in. Plus, QLED TVs are more budget-friendly than OLED TVs.
Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) Display
This type of television contains an organic compound located between two transparent electrodes that emit light. Unlike LCDs, these OLEDs don’t require a backlight because the compound is light-emitting. Also, OLEDs can display deeper blacks than LCD screens and display better contrast ratios in ambient light. They can also be thinner and lighter than LCDs because filter layers aren’t needed.
Because OLED TVs don’t feature backlighting, they also use approximately 45% less power than LCD screens, saving you money on electricity bills. And in addition to many application possibilities, OLEDs are cheaper than LCD screens are today.
One major disadvantage of OLED TVs is the capacity for burn-in of images. Many companies are working on this issue. However, OLED TVs on the market still suffer from burn-in, contributing to the limited lifetime of the television.
LED TVs are backlit with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of cold-cathode fluorescent lights (CCFLs) used in LCDs.
This TV technology has existed since 2007 and is still widely available at every popular tech store. If you’re looking for sleek TVs with LED backlighting, this one’s a good bet. Because with this technology the manufacturers can make thinner televisions and it’s more efficient than fluorescent lighting.
While popular, they are costlier than regular LCD TVs.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
Liquid Crystal Display TVs are the most common TV type out there. LCD TVs feature a unique state of matter called liquid crystals or fluid molecules that retain a specific structure. Each pixel contains several liquid crystal molecules aligned between two electrodes and two polarizing filters for LCDs. So when you shut the screen, no light can pass through.
Unlike previous TV technologies, LCD screens are flat and lightweight. They also offer a high resolution at 1080p (1,080 × 1,920 pixels), with similar frame refresh rates of 60 Hz up to 240 Hz. Additionally, LCD TVs also have a big market for use as outdoor TVs, with features including waterproof casings and extra bright LEDs.
Lastly, LCD TVs are affordable, and you can buy medium to large-sized TVs for a few hundred dollars.
Plasma Panel TVs
Plasma display panel TVs became popular in the ’90s and were the first flat-screen alternative to cathode-ray tube technology. Plasma TVs have similar phosphor screens as cathode-ray tube technology, giving both technologies a similar color depth. However, plasma screen technology has a faster frame response, refreshing up to 600 times per second (600 Hz).
Most manufacturers discontinued their plasma TV production in 2015 because plasma TVs were bulky and susceptible to burn-in. So if you’re interested in plasma TVs, look for used and refurbished models.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
Digital Light Processing (DLP) TVs were introduced by Texas Instruments in the 1980s, using a unique technological approach. DLPs have an optical semiconductor chip with over a million mirrors that process digital signals by reflecting light in multiple directions to create an image. The resulting viewing experience has several advantages over plasma TVs, including longer lifespans, 3D projection, and lighter weight.
Direct TVs are a rebranding of the classic cathode-ray tube TVs. Most TV manufacturers have stopped Direct TV production in favor of newer technologies. However, if you’re into playing older games, having a direct view TV may be necessary. Many classic video games are well-suited for the cathode-ray tube technology. Older games played on modern TVs look torn and lag. This isn’t a problem with direct view TVs.
Direct TVs may feel outdated now, but they could be reclassified as vintage and enjoy a resurgence soon. And while you can’t buy new direct-view TVs anymore, there are plenty of used options available.
Types of TVs By Screen Type
The demand for flat-screen TVs is higher than curved-screen. This type of television has a perfectly flat screen and is only a few inches thick.
While curved tech is novel, it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Most people enjoy watching TV shows and news on flat-screen TVs.
Flat-screen TVs are also called flat-panel televisions and are available in plasma and LCD varieties. Flat-panel displays refer to PC monitors in this flat screen design. A flat-screen television is a popular choice for many homes due to its excellent picture quality and wide range of options.
Curved screens offer a more immersive viewing experience. And immersion is a golden standard to work towards. If a TV can make you forget that you’re staring at a screen, then you’re more likely to enjoy the experience.
Curved TVs are engineered in a way that replicates real life. They use a monitor technology called ocular perception to create this effect. Further, they expand on your peripheral vision.
Types of TVs By Resolution
Here are the most popular screen resolution options for TVs.
It won’t be long until you can’t find 720p TVs. And you can’t compare this old-school tech to 1080 HD or 4K screen resolution. However, they are very inexpensive and do a great job on a budget or need a smaller TV.
1080p HD TVs are economical and show clear images. You can get a decent 1080p TV under $200, which is fantastic given the manufacturing cost of televisions. This screen resolution gives you the best pictures available without any distortion.
It also does a better job capturing live sports events and other action footage.
4K Resolution TV
This new screen resolution tech is commonplace, and if you’re getting a new TV. Most of the latest TV models are 4K and are available for under $1,000.
8K resolution TVs are a whopping sixteen times the Full HD resolution. These TVs have screens with 7,680 horizontal and 4,320 vertical pixels, making a total of approximately 33 million pixels.
8K TV is the highest resolution TV released recently among UHD (ultra high definition) TVs. It features four times more pixels than a 4K TV and shows a sharper and more detailed picture quality.
Types of Televisions By Features
Smart TVs offer internet connectivity and support a range of apps. This opens up a world of entertainment options, from streaming video on Netflix and Amazon Prime to playing video games, checking social media, and controlling a house full of connected gadgets, including Alexa compatible and Google devices Home compatible devices.
Most smart TVs can work with smart speakers you might already have, and a few offer built-in smart speakers. Also, these TVs are compatible with other connected devices in the home, including smart lights, smart locks, and other sensors.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) TV
HDR refers to a technique to improve a picture’s dynamic range. In other words, it heightens the contrast between brightest whites and darkest blacks.
Higher dynamic ranges help create real-life imagery on your TV screen. The basic standard for HDR content is called HDR10. Many companies support this minimum specification for HDR compatibility, so you will notice “HDR10” or “Ultra HD Premium” on a growing number of TV sets this year.
Dolby Vision is another popular version of HDR, and it has to meet a stricter set of criteria to display HDR content.
Many TVs include voice activation functionality such as Google Assistant. It’s very helpful if you use streaming services and use voice activation to start the show. You can control the TV using commands such as ‘Chanel Up and Down’ and search for content.
ROKU is a fantastic feature. The latest TVs have built-in roku, but you’ll need to buy a ROKU box if you have an older model.
Important TV Features You Should Know
Whether you’re looking for a basic or high-tech TV, the biggest factor in your decision will be screen size. Consider how many people in your family watch TV at once and where you’re going to put your new TV set. Then pick the largest screen size that fits comfortably into that space.
Screen size also depends on how close you sit to your TV. So if you can see the individual pixels of the TV screen, you’re too close. Try to sit at a distance that is three times more than the screen’s height for HD and 1.5 times the screen’s height for 4K Ultra HD. In simpler words, you can sit twice as close to a 4K UHD TV.
Screen resolution is the number of pixels that make up the picture on a TV screen and is described in terms of horizontal rows and vertical columns. More pixels help form a sharper picture and finer details, so higher resolution is always better.
The 1920 x 1080 resolution or full HD has been the most common resolution in TVs across the globe for many years. Nowadays, TV manufacturers are shifting to Ultra HD sets or 4K TVs.
The best thing about 4K TVs is that small objects on the screen have more detail, including sharper text. Overall, pictures appear richer and more life-like, but the benefits can be subtle. The sharper picture also lets you comfortably view the screen from shorter distances, making larger TVs more suitable for regular-sized homes.
Ultra HD video looks fantastic, and it’s getting easier to find. Many streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and even YouTube have started offering 4K content, making smart TVs your best bet for finding 4K movies and shows. While Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are gaining popularity, they’re still less common than standard 1080p.
Live TV hasn’t fully embraced 4K tech yet, but DirectTV and Dish Network have started offering 4K movies.
You might start watching 4K TV over the air. The new NextGen TV started rolling out to several cities across the United States in 2020, bringing the potential for a better picture, better signal, and smarter features with Internet connectivity. This new technology will expand in 2021, but TVs with NextGen tuners are still few and far between.
Finally, there are some affordable 8K TVs on the market now. These screens quadruple the resolution seen on 4K sets, offering amazing picture quality, but finding content to take full advantage of higher resolution is very limited.
Bottom Line: Ultra HD resolution or 4K has become the standard, and it’s a better option if you want to future-proof your investment. You can buy higher resolution 8K TVs, but we suggest holding off.
Most TVs are too thin to contain high-quality speakers. It’s because of the svelte design of flat panels. So, you have three choices: Use headphones, buy a surround-sound system, or get a soundbar.
Soundbars are popular because they can improve the cinematic experience and be installed in minutes. The best soundbars are thin, so they can fit under TV stands. Most soundbars can also mount under a wall-hanging TV. And several companies offer sound boxes that can slide under a set.
Some TVs and soundbars support Dolby Atmos, a newer audio standard from Dolby that features overhead sound for a better listening experience.
The contrast ratio is the range of brightness levels a TV set can display. Better contrast ratios have more subtle shadows and hues and better detail. However, manufacturers measure such ratios in different ways. And so, this specification is thoroughly discredited. If a salesperson uses the contrast ratio as a selling point, you should shop somewhere else.
It’s best to check how a TV displays shadows by watching a movie with dark scenes and observing how well it reveals detail in the shadows. Experiment with the TV’s sharpness, brightness, and other picture settings before making a final decision.
The best TVs have deep, dark black levels, while less expensive displays glow gray. These grays are known as “elevated black levels” and are common on less premium LCD TVs.
Bottom line: You can ignore the manufacturer’s contrast-ratio specs because they are not comparable across brands. Instead, look for deep black levels and minimum haloing around high contrast objects.
Refresh rate simply refers to how many images a TV screen can display per second. The standard refresh rate is 60 Hz or 60 times per second. But, this refresh rate can make scenes with rapidly moving objects look blurry or jittery, particularly on LCD HDTVs. A higher refresh rate offers a smoother viewing experience, especially when watching sports or playing video games on next-gen consoles, like the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Manufacturers double the refresh rate to 120 Hz to create a more solid picture.
Remember that no 4K TV can have a refresh rate higher than 120Hz. If you see a 4K TV marketed as having a refresh rate of 240Hz, it will only support 120Hz. You can ensure by checking the refresh rate on the manufacturer’s websites.
Some new TV models have High-Frame Rate (HFR) support, meaning they have a higher refresh rate and extra support for content with more than 60 Hz frame rates. It’s a good feature to look out for when buying a TV.
Gamers will be very keen to get higher refresh rates, but 60 Hz is best if you’re using a gaming console.
A word of caution: beware of deceiving terms like “effective refresh rate,” which means the actual refresh rate is half the stated rate. For example, a “120 Hz effective refresh rate” will actually be a 60 Hz refresh rate.
Bottom line: Gamers will enjoy a 60Hz TV, but most TV shoppers shouldn’t buy a model with less than a 120 Hz refresh rate.
Choosing a TV for Gaming
If you’re getting a TV for gaming, you want to choose one with a low input lag or latency. This is how much time it takes for the TV screen to respond after pushing a button on your controller. Preferably, you want a model with an input lag under 30ms (milliseconds).
Ports and Connectivity
When buying a TV, you’ll also need to ensure it has the right ports. You want a TV with multiple HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 2.1 ports. These high-speed connectors support higher resolutions and faster refresh rates from your other devices.
Nowadays, HDMI 2.0 is the most popular HDMI standard. But, if you own an Xbox One X and you want a future-proof TV, buy a TV featuring at least one HDMI 2.1 port. Also, you’ll need a high-speed cable to take advantage of your HDMI 2.1 ports.
If you have a smart TV, you’ll also want to look for an Ethernet port. This will let you connect your TV directly to your router to get a strong signal.
One of the biggest revenue generators for electronics stores is the extended warranty. That’s because they are so rarely needed for a TV set. Most of the components in a TV are remarkably resilient, and even the LEDs used to light the images are virtually shockproof.
So, if you do get a defective piece, it’ll become apparent immediately or at least within the first 30 days of ownership. A regular store-return policy usually covers this period. Plus, most manufacturers offer a one-year warranty.
Quick Tips for Buying TVs
Here are the most important things to consider before you buy any type of television.
- Don’t buy a TV set with less than 4K resolution. And avoid full HD or 1080p sets.
- You can skip 8K TVs because they’re super expensive and 8K movies and shows aren’t available yet.
- Expect to pay about $500 for a decent 55-inch 4K TV. And at least $950 for a 65-inch model. Models with better pictures, built-in speakers, and features will cost more.
- Look for a 60 Hz or 120 Hz refresh rate.
- Look for an HDR-compatible set because it offers more realistic colors and better contrast.
- OLED TVs look better than most LCD sets. And the QLED TVs from Samsung, Vizio, and TCL are a budget-friendly middle ground.
- Look for at least four HDMI ports. And get the newer HDMI 2.1 format if you can.
- Plan to buy a nice soundbar. TV speakers aren’t awesome nowadays because the screens are thinner.
- Avoid extended warranties. Your credit card company may already provide purchase protection.
Frequently Asked Questions
When were televisions invented, and how did the first models work?
The original television was mechanical, relying on a spinning disk for viewing. This type of TV was first commercialized in the late 1920s. Such TVs were massive, bulky, and heavy. The image created was only the size of a postage stamp, requiring a magnifier to be built into the system. With a resolution of 30 lines of pixels and a frame refresh rate of a few frames per second, mechanical televisions needed an advanced mechanism to improve the popular TV viewing and radio combo.
That advanced technology came in the form of cathode-ray tubes, featuring a vacuum with an electron gun and a phosphorescent screen to create clearer images. This type of TV technology was a huge hit, expanding the screen to 600 or more lines of pixels and a refresh rate of sixty times a second (60 Hz)
Introducing electronic transistor circuits in the 1950s allowed TVs to become more compact and portable. At the same time, color TV was invented using three electron guns and phosphorescent screens in red, blue, and green. Cathode-ray tube TVs dominated the tech industry until the commercialization of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) in the early 2010s. Since then, numerous TV types have appeared on the market, making it difficult to find the best TV for you.
Do newer TV models have good sound quality?
The bulky casing needed for cathode-ray tube TVs allowed massive speakers to provide high-quality sound. The rise of flat-screen TVs has left little room for speakers, and these built-in speakers lack bass response. While TV display technology has advanced dramatically, no TV manufacturers have fixed the sound issue in their current models. However, many companies offer soundbars for improving TV sound quality.
What type of TV is known as a Smart TV?
Smart TVs are the technological convergence of a TV, computer, and set-top box. They can also access the internet. Smart TVs are well-suited to multiple types of TV display technologies. As of late 2019, most major TV manufacturers only produce smart TVs.
What’s a voice-assistant TV?
Voice-assistant TVs feature built-in voice control technology, often with Google, Apple, Amazon, or artificial intelligence. Many high-end TVs today offer this as an option.
How big are TVs?
TVs keep growing. You can still buy smaller TVs, but you can also buy TVs up to 99″. There’s no doubt the size will keep growing until TVs take up entire walls.