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post #1 of 36 Old 10-17-2016, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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10 Things to Consider When Shopping for a TV

As we approach the holiday shopping season, many people will be searching for a new TV. I am often asked what's important to think about in that search, so I thought it would be helpful to list 10 things to consider in order to narrow your search for the best possible TV for your budget.

1. Seating Distance and Screen Size

- The first thing to consider is the distance you will be sitting from the TV, which determines the optimum screen size. Warning: it's probably larger than you think.

- For HD (1080p), the optimum screen size (measured diagonally) is roughly 0.67 times the seating distance; for a seating distance of 10 feet (120 inches), the optimum screen size is about 80 inches diagonally.

- For 4K/UHD, the optimum screen size for a given seating distance is twice as large; for a seating distance of 10 feet, the screen should measure 160 inches diagonally!

- Clearly, these sizes are too large for most homes and budgets. The point is, do the math and get a TV that is as close to the optimum size as your room and budget will allow.

2. 4K/UHD or HD?

- These days, it's difficult to find a TV that isn't 4K/UHD.

- Only low-end models are 1080p anymore, so unless your budget is extremely tight, 4K/UHD is the way to go.

- There isn't all that much 4K/UHD content yet, but it's growing and will continue to do so; it's now available via streaming, DirecTV satellite service, and UHD Blu-ray.

- Over-the-air terrestrial broadcasting will add 4K/UHD when ATSC 3.0 is launched in a year or two, and cable providers will probably offer it when the installed base of 4K/UHD TVs is large enough.

3. HDR or Not?

- High dynamic range (HDR) and its inseparable cousin, wide color gamut (WCG), are still in their infancy and, in some ways, not fully baked.

- There are currently two main HDR formats: HDR10, an open, free-to-implement standard, and Dolby Vision, a proprietary, licensed system from Dolby. (HLG is a third format that could become important in broadcast content, but it's not really available much right now.)

- Many argue that Dolby Vision is ultimately better because of its backward compatibility with SDR displays (depending on how it is created) and dynamic metadata, but it costs manufacturers additional money to license it to use in their products.

- Both formats can be used with streaming, and most such content uses HDR10. A couple of services, most notably Vudu, use Dolby Vision, but they now offer a choice of either format.

- UHD Blu-ray can use both; HDR10 is required, while Dolby vision is optional, and no UHD Blu-ray titles have been released with Dolby Vision up to now.

- It's important to understand the difference between "HDR-capable" and "HDR-compatible." A TV that is HDR-capable can reproduce an HDR video signal with its increased dynamic range, while an HDR-compatible set can accept an HDR signal, but it is displayed in standard dynamic range, so you lose the real benefit of HDR. Of course, many manufacturers obfuscate this difference, so do your best to read between the lines in the specs.

- Even though the HDR landscape is not yet completely settled, I strongly recommend getting a TV that can accept and display HDR if you can afford it—that is, get an HDR-capable set, not one that is merely HDR-compatible.

- Virtually all manufacturers implement HDR10 in their HDR-capable TVs, while a few—such as LG and Vizio—include both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

- I think having both is a good idea; HDR10 is most important right now, but who knows if Dolby Vision will become more widespread in the future?

- If a TV does not have Dolby Vision, it cannot be added with a firmware update—it requires special hardware that must be installed during the manufacturing process.

4. Flat or Curved?

- I have a strong preference for flat TVs, and most manufacturers that have tried the curved approach are now moving back to flat designs.

- Curved screens distort any reflections—points of light become lines—and viewing from off axis (away from dead center) causes apparent geometric distortion. Plus, wall-mounted curved screens jut out from the wall on the sides.

- Curved screens are wonderful for the one person sitting dead center.

5. LCD or OLED?

- LCD can be much brighter than OLED, making it better suited to environments with high ambient light, but its blacks are not as deep. And to be fair, OLEDs do just fine in rooms with some ambient light.

- All LCD TVs tend to look washed out with less contrast when viewed from off axis—some more than others, but they all suffer from this problem to one degree or another—while OLED TVs do not.

- OLED TVs can exhibit a slight color shift when viewed off axis, but in my opinion, it's not nearly as much of a problem as the off-axis performance of virtually all LCD TVs.

- OLED TVs are generally more expensive than comparably sized LCD TVs, though one can come up with exceptions.

6. FALD or Edgelit LCD?

- I'm a big fan of FALD (full-array local dimming) over edgelighting because of its better screen uniformity and potential contrast.

- Vizio is the only company I know of that makes only FALD LCD TVs; Samsung, Sony, and most other brands use FALD only in their top-tier sets, implementing edgelighting in their step-down models.

- It's important to have as many FALD dimming zones as possible. For example, the Vizio M series has up to 64 dimming zones (depending on the model), while the P series has 128 zones, which results is less haloing and more precise control of the contrast. In the Sony Z9D, each individual LED in the FALD backlight is independently dimmable, providing many hundreds if not thousands of zones. (Sony will not reveal how many LEDs are used in its FALD backlight system, but it's a lot.)

7. Refresh Rate

- This is among the most confusing aspects of TV specs.

- Refresh rate is how often the image on the screen is refreshed or redrawn, which roughly corresponds to frame rate.

- Movies are almost universally at 24 frames per second, while video is essentially at 60 fps. All TVs can refresh the screen 60 times per second (which is referred to as "60 Hz"), but many can now do 120 or even 240 Hz.

- Higher refresh rates allow the TV to play 24 fps movies at 72 or even 96 fps, displaying each frame three or four times, just like triple-flashing at commercial cinemas, which is a good thing.

- Higher refresh rates also allow the TV to synthesize new frames and interleave them with the incoming frames, a process called frame interpolation. This sharpens the detail in moving objects, but it also causes the "soap-opera effect" (SOE), because it makes movies look like they were shot on video. Many videophiles hate SOE, so they make sure to disable frame interpolation in the TV, preferring to live with motion blur.

- Manufacturers often obscure the refresh rate by specifying an "effective" refresh rate. If the backlight is flashed on and off during each frame, that can help sharpen motion detail as well, so some companies might specify a refresh rate of 240 up to 960 Hz, which is a combination of the LCD panel's native refresh rate and the effect of backlight flashing to achieve motion sharpness that exceeds either one alone.

- I recommend getting a TV with a native refresh rate of 120 Hz—and turn off frame interpolation if you don't like SOE.

- If money is tight, a 60 Hz TV will work plenty well.

8. Pay for Calibration?

- A professional calibration can cost several hundred dollars, so if your TV cost less than $1000, it's not worth it. Simply adjust the basic user controls using something like Disney's WOW disc, and the TV will look as good as it can without a pro calibration—which is often pretty darned good. For more on how to do this, click here.

- If the TV is over $1000, a pro calibration becomes more worthwhile, because it occupies less of the total budget.

- I'm a big advocate of viewing content as the creator intended, so a full calibration is important to me.

9. Don't Base Your Decision Solely on What TVs Look Like in a Big Retail Showroom

- A retail showroom is nothing like the environment in your home, making it nearly impossible to judge how a TV will look in your home.

- TVs on display in most stores are set up to be as bright and blue as possible to grab your attention, but this is not how they should look in your home.

- Some retailers have home-like demo areas, which are much better than a brightly lit showroom. Seek out these retailers.

- When you find a retailer with a home-like demo area, make sure the TVs are calibrated or at least have the basic user controls adjusted properly. Ask to do it yourself if they won't.

- Bring along Blu-ray or UHD Blu-ray discs you are familiar with and watch them on the TVs you are considering.

10. Budget & Recommendations

- When shopping for a primary TV, I recommend spending at least $1000 to get one that is fairly large and has reasonably good performance.

- At the low end of this budget scale, I generally recommend the Vizio P series of FALD LCD TVs ($1000 for the P50, $1300 for the P55, $2000 for the P65, $3800 for the P75). The M series models are a few hundred bucks less; both series use FALD and both do HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR, but the P series has at least twice as many FALD zones. Still, if your budget is really tight, I would definitely consider the M series.

- If your budget is in the $3000-$5000 range, the LG B6 OLED is worth a serious look. The 55B6P lists for $2300, while the 65B6P lists for $3500. (The curved-screen C6 models are the same price, but as I mentioned earlier, I don't like curved screens.)

- Other good options among LCD TVs in this price range include the Sony XBR-75X940D FALD LCD ($4500) and Samsung UN65KS9800 FALD LCD ($3500, see our review here), though the Samsung has a curved screen.

- If money is no object, the flagship LG G6 OLED offers a super-cool industrial design and the same superb picture quality of all OLED TVs. The 65G6P lists for $6000, while the 77G6P is a whopping $20,000.

- Another good option is the Sony Z9D FALD LCD TV, which represents the pinnacle of LCD performance. The XBR-65Z9D sells for $5500 directly from Sony, the 75Z9D is $9000, and the massive 100Z9D is a budget-busting $60,000!

I'm sure that AVS Forum members have many opinions about all of this, so I invite you to share them in the comments. What are your most important considerations when shopping for a TV? What models do you recommend at different price points?

Please do not click on the Quick Reply button at the bottom of this article, which will quote the entire article in your comment without you knowing it. Wading through the entire article in the comments is quite annoying! If you want to quote a portion of the article, click on the Quote button and delete everything that does not pertain to your comment. Otherwise, use the Quick Reply comment editor at the bottom of each page, which does not quote the original post. Thanks!
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post #2 of 36 Old 10-17-2016, 01:38 PM
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#1 should always be "Do your our research" as the sales staff are not much help, will led you down the wrong path or worse just make stuff up if they do not know the answer.
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post #3 of 36 Old 10-17-2016, 01:50 PM
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I know it isn't easy to limit things to a small list because some items end up of course being left out and everyone has different priorities.

Somehow, if would have value to include somewhere inputs and outputs to look for and also, a mention about "smart tvs" and what to look for given that other devices may do the same and which probably does a better job.
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post #4 of 36 Old 10-17-2016, 02:04 PM
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Nice article but I think I'd leave off section 1 and just say: get as large a screen as you can fit within your budget and space.


Fact is, no flatscreen is ever going to be too big. My screen is 100" at 1080p resolution and I sit right around 9-10 feet away. That feels about right to me. It's big enough to be immersive but not so big that watching less-than-pristine content is an issue. You're never going to get close to that with a flatscreen so I say don't worry about getting too big a screen-- worry about getting too small a screen!

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post #5 of 36 Old 10-17-2016, 02:22 PM
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I wonder what I'll do when my bedroom 42" Panny plasma reaches its useful life (it's nine years old now, doing great). I'd hate to get a LCD and also going larger than that.

Maybe at the time sanity would have prevailed and there will be 40-42" 1080p OLED TVs.

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I wonder what I'll do when my bedroom 42" Panny plasma reaches its useful life (it's nine years old now, doing great). I'd hate to get a LCD and also going larger than that.

Maybe at the time sanity would have prevailed and there will be 40-42" 1080p OLED TVs.
If you see OLED that small it will be 4K at the very least.
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post #7 of 36 Old 10-17-2016, 03:56 PM
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If you see OLED that small it will be 4K at the very least.
At the least ? ... So this 8, 16, 64K stuff is coming ?
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post #8 of 36 Old 10-17-2016, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
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I know it isn't easy to limit things to a small list because some items end up of course being left out and everyone has different priorities.

Somehow, if would have value to include somewhere inputs and outputs to look for and also, a mention about "smart tvs" and what to look for given that other devices may do the same and which probably does a better job.
You're right, it isn't easy to pick the items that will be included in any such list; also, everyone does have different priorities, and it would be impractical to include them all. But I was hoping that folks like you would point out other things to consider, and you did; thanks!

To your points here, virtually all TVs in the $1000+ price range have multiple HDMI inputs, no HDMI outputs, one component-video input with associated audio, and one optical digital-audio output...no S-video, no composite video. So I didn't include that in my list of things to consider, though the specific number of inputs might be important to some, especially if you're using the TV as the source switcher (which I generally don't recommend).

Also, I think that virtually all TVs in the $1000+ price range have "smart" features—i.e., streaming apps—with lots of overlap (Netflix, YouTube, etc.), so again, this did not seem to be a big deal to me, especially since you can get whatever streaming apps the TV doesn't have from another device like a streamer or disc player. As to which streaming device does a better job, I think that's much less of an issue than the user's downstream bandwidth.

Then there are other "smart" features like voice and/or gestural control, content recommendations based on past viewing, etc. I consider these to be secondary features, which is another reason I didn't include smart features in my list here. My main concern is picture quality.

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Good read, but you forgot #11 (after the sale).


11. NEVER throw a giant TV box away in your trash cans/on your curb before cutting it up thoroughly. Better yet, burn it. It may sound silly, but people who throw 65" OLED TV boxes out on the curb with the rest of the garbage are looking to get robbed, no matter how safe they think their neighborhood is.

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post #10 of 36 Old 10-18-2016, 05:38 AM
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At the least ? ... So this 8, 16, 64K stuff is coming ?
8K is 1000000% coming. I say this decade.

Look for possible 16K TV sets next decade, but I do not see any benefit for 99% of home users at any screen size.
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8K is 1000000% coming. I say this decade.

Look for possible 16K TV sets next decade, but I do not see any benefit for 99% of home users at any screen size.
That settles it. If Commodore is making the 64K then I'm officially waiting for that.
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Good read, but you forgot #11 (after the sale).


11. NEVER throw a giant TV box away in your trash cans/on your curb before cutting it up thoroughly. Better yet, burn it. It may sound silly, but people who throw 65" OLED TV boxes out on the curb with the rest of the garbage are looking to get robbed, no matter how safe they think their neighborhood is.
You could add keep the packaging material. It's very useful for warranty service. It's very useful if you have to move. It's very useful if you ever decide to sell the unit or give it away.
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You could add keep the packaging material. It's very useful for warranty service. It's very useful if you have to move. It's very useful if you ever decide to sell the unit or give it away.
I'm going to take a guess that you don't live in the SF Bay Area. Space is at a premium here. I wish I could keep boxes.
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I'm going to take a guess that you don't live in the SF Bay Area. Space is at a premium here. I wish I could keep boxes.
I did live and rent in mission district for over a decade.

I escaped though and now I own a home 🏡
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I'm going to take a guess that you don't live in the SF Bay Area. Space is at a premium here. I wish I could keep boxes.
Just flatten the box and place it under your bed. You will just need to find a place for your magazines and your wife's toys.


...I forgot in this day and age no one buys magazines.
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Please update the prices for Budget & Recommendations as the prices you have listed are out date. The Sony XBR-65Z9D lists for $7000 (old price)(new price is about $5500) which is now close to your budget recommendations.

If you go to Tom's Hardware site, their reviews and informative articles now use a green Amazon button that lists current pricing for that product. This is a good way to keep articles up to date. And I am not saying that you should use the Amazon site per say, just a site that you like and can get the current pricing from.
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Just flatten the box and place it under your bed. You will just need to find a place for your magazines and your wife's toys.


...I forgot in this day and age no one buys magazines.
Hang them from the ceiling
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Please update the prices for Budget & Recommendations as the prices you have listed are out date. The Sony XBR-65Z9D lists for $7000 (old price)(new price is about $5500) which is now close to your budget recommendations.

If you go to Tom's Hardware site, their reviews and informative articles now use a green Amazon button that lists current pricing for that product. This is a good way to keep articles up to date. And I am not saying that you should use the Amazon site per say, just a site that you like and can get the current pricing from.
Actually, I generally use only MSRPs, not street prices, unless otherwise stated. On Amazon, the MSRP of the XBR-65Z9D is listed as $7000, which is why I used that price. However, other sources have different MSRPs; for example, Crutchfield says the MSRP is $6000, and Sony's own online store sells it for $5500. So I guess I'll go with $5500 in this case.

BTW, the XBR-75X940D now sells for $4500 from Sony's online store, so I changed that price as well.

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post #19 of 36 Old 10-20-2016, 07:41 AM
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- Over-the-air terrestrial broadcasting will add 4K/UHD when ATSC 3.0 is launched in a year or two, and cable providers will probably offer it when the installed base of 4K/UHD TVs is large enough.
What leads you to believe that ATSC 3.0 is going to become a widely deployed USA standard within "a year or two"?

If ATSC 3.0 is coming on the schedule you offer, should you not be advocating mightily for user-replaceable tuner modules?

The ability to offer UHD is not the same thing as widespread availability of same. I submit that it is folly to assert that UHD programming will be an immediate result of deploying any UHD capable broadcast television modulation scheme.
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Maybe at the time sanity would have prevailed and there will be 40-42" 1080p OLED TVs.
Is there a point to OLED without some manner of HDR and WCG driving it?
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What leads you to believe that ATSC 3.0 is going to become a widely deployed USA standard within "a year or two"?

If ATSC 3.0 is coming on the schedule you offer, should you not be advocating mightily for user-replaceable tuner modules?

The ability to offer UHD is not the same thing as widespread availability of same. I submit that it is folly to assert that UHD programming will be an immediate result of deploying any UHD capable broadcast television modulation scheme.
My guest on next week's Home Theater Geeks podcast is Rich Chernock, one of the chairs of the working groups for ATSC 3.0. I will certainly ask him what he thinks the rollout timetable will be.

User-replaceable tuner modules in TVs would be great, but I suspect there will first be outboard tuners. Yeah, I know, who wants another set-top box? But designing and building a user-replaceable tuner module seems very unlikely, since it would probably cost manufacturers more to implement.

UHD is already available via streaming and UHD Blu-ray, and the amount of such content is growing. Adding UHD terrestrial broadcasting will contribute to that growth—perhaps not immediately, but steadily.
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Hey Scott,
I disagree with the way you have been quoting "optimum screen size" ever since the coverage of 4k has started.
I believe what you are talking about is only concerned with visual acuity. What is the closest you can sit to a certain sized screen before the ability of the average human eye to discern individual pixels.
You also need to worry about viewing angle. You don't want to have to move your head in 3 or 4 different directions to be able to see the entire picture.
I believe with 4k content, the optimum viewing distance will be between 2.0x to 2.4x screen height depending on how much in-your-face you like the movie.
Personally I like sitting very close, so I would choose 2.0xscreen height, which for a 16x9 aspect ratio basically works out to the diagonal width of the picture.

So, for me, a 100" TV would be perfect for sitting 100" away (if I could find one and afford one). I don't think you can really go higher than that without compromising field of view.
Most people would probably prefer an 85" TV max from 100" away, but most people will probably buy a 55" TV and sit 100" away and they are missing out on the big picture (pun intended).

Bill.
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post #23 of 36 Old 11-08-2016, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by adrummingdude View Post
Good read, but you forgot #11 (after the sale).


11. NEVER throw a giant TV box away in your trash cans/on your curb before cutting it up thoroughly. Better yet, burn it. It may sound silly, but people who throw 65" OLED TV boxes out on the curb with the rest of the garbage are looking to get robbed, no matter how safe they think their neighborhood is.
Mine went straight to my local recycling facility. It was quicker and a lot less trouble than cutting it up and there was no sign of it anywhere at my house.
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post #24 of 36 Old 11-17-2016, 10:04 AM
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Back when you could still buy plasma TV, I was with my GF shopping for a 55" LED. BB had a display of a calibrated and non-calibrated sets side-by-side to aid in their pitch of the calibration service. We both liked the non-calibrated picture better, and told them so. The salesman did not know what to say. I assumed the calibration was not proper.
I'm a bit overwhelmed with hokey proprietary HDR names that I find meaningless,10 bit, SUHD vs UHD. That's OK, though; I'll figure it out when I'm actually ready to buy one. My DLP still looks great. I'd know what to do with an OLED box, though. Put it in front of the house of a neighbor you don't like.
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post #25 of 36 Old 11-19-2016, 08:49 AM
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For refresh rate, you should add a point about 120hz signals, and that only Vizio and Sony will allow you to play computer games at 120hz
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post #26 of 36 Old 11-20-2016, 04:12 PM
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this was quite helpful before i made my choice, thanks!
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post #27 of 36 Old 11-21-2016, 09:23 AM
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Nice article but I think I'd leave off section 1 and just say: get as large a screen as you can fit within your budget and space.

Fact is, no flatscreen is ever going to be too big. My screen is 100" at 1080p resolution and I sit right around 9-10 feet away. That feels about right to me. It's big enough to be immersive but not so big that watching less-than-pristine content is an issue. You're never going to get close to that with a flatscreen so I say don't worry about getting too big a screen-- worry about getting too small a screen!
I have to disagree here - I feel that too many people are shelling out good bucks for hi-res screens that they are getting no benefit from. I know, its their money and doesnt effect me but Item #1 is the most important one IMO! I DO agree that people ought to get the biggest screen possible but very often they end up with something that is just too small for their seating arrangements. I fully realize that room setup and other factors come into play here - not all of us have dedicated theater rooms for gigondous TVs and even if we did we'd have projectors

Ironically Im violating my own "advice" here and sit about 10 feet away from my 65" 1080p plasma. I really ought to have at least a 75" screen or larger. So, if/when I go 4K thats what Ill have to get...maybe even larger. Yikes $$$$$
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post #28 of 36 Old 11-23-2016, 11:04 AM
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#1 should always be "Do your our research" as the sales staff are not much help, will led you down the wrong path or worse just make stuff up if they do not know the answer.
Cmon man. I work at a Best Buy. I would like to think we do a good job informing the public.
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post #29 of 36 Old 12-02-2016, 07:57 PM
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Input Ports!

On a couple of sites I have seen posts of people who have purchased a TV or a Display device, get it home, and then discover that it doesn't have an input port that is needed. Please do a quick inventory of what input ports you need the TV to have, and when you go shopping, verify that the TV or Display device you purchase has those input ports. (In one case, someone purchased a Display device, but needed the ATSC tuner for over-the-air broadcasts, and that person ended up having to buy an external tuner. In another case, the person needed a composite video port, which that particular TV did not have, and ended up having to get an A/V-to-HDMI converter.) If you need or want an ATSC tuner, be sure you get a TV because neither a "Display" nor a "Monitor" have a tuner.


Screen Size (revisited)

My approach on my first big TV was to measure the maximum size I can fit in the target location, and pace off my viewing distance. Then at the store pace off my viewing distance from a perspective TV or Display device and see what I think from looking from that distance, and, if need to, double-check the TV isn't larger than the space it will go. On my first HDTV purchase, I settled on a screen size larger than my friend thought was reasonable, but I stuck to my decision, and I am glad I did! A couple years later he purchased a larger TV for his own home, so he must have realized how having a large enough screen helps in enjoying a good movie.

There are differences in personal tastes for screen sizes, which is why I recommend trying viewing a potential purchase from your normal viewing distance; some people may want to be closer, some like me may want to be further back, which translates to a larger or smaller screen than the "recommendation" based strictly on viewing distance.

My very humble setup:
Spoiler!
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post #30 of 36 Old 12-07-2016, 03:01 PM
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Best Buy maybe, but Wal Mart is no help whatsoever.

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Originally Posted by Based_legend24 View Post
Cmon man. I work at a Best Buy. I would like to think we do a good job informing the public.
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