Business Personal Finance

Friday 17 January 2020

Size really does matter with sound and vision

When it comes to a replacement, TVs are more like vacuum cleaners than phones: you tend only to buy a new one every seven or eight years (and sometimes 10 years), writes Adrian Weckler

Stock image
Stock image
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

If you haven't changed yours in a while, it's likely that you have what would be regarded as a 'small' set by today's standards - perhaps 28, 32 or 40 inches.

These days, the starting point for most sitting-room TVs is now between 40 and 43 inches. But a 40-inch model today is probably about the same overall dimensions as a 32-inch model from 12 years ago, because today's models have very thin 'bezels' (the metal or plastic frame around the screen). So in relation to the layout of your living room (assuming that this is where it's for), a 40-inch model shouldn't look any bigger as a piece of furniture than a 29-inch or 32-inch set. And for those who still have an even older 'fat' CRT television (with a large rear end), it will be even less disruptive as you don't have to place it in a corner.

Most new tellies sold are closer to 50 inches, which is a good size for someone with a medium- to large-sized sitting room. It is also good for someone whose eyesight isn't great anymore (like large-screen smartphones or large-print books).

If you look around, you'll see that most 40-inch TVs now range in price from around €250 to €800. The main differences between the cheaper sets and the more expensive ones are the quality of the picture, the sound, the physical design and the connections. All of these are worth considering.

You'll also hear a lot about '4K'. It's good but, for a 32-inch or 40-inch set, not essential. For a 40-inch set, a bigger consideration is high dynamic range (HDR), which separates shades and colours better, meaning that you see much more detail in a night-time scene. There's little in home electronics more disappointing than buying a new telly only to find the blacks washed out in shades of grey.

Related to this are differences in the way the screen is physically illuminated from within the set. I won't get into the technicalities, but it's safe to say that for each €50 to €100 you go up in price, you'll get better picture quality. A good example is the difference between, say, Panasonic's TX43GX550b (€370) and Samsung's Q60R (€779). The cheaper set does most of what the dearer one does, but the image quality is unquestionably brighter and more vivid on the Samsung. You'll see this if you walk into any of the big electronics superstores (Harvey Norman, Curry's, DID, Power City, Expert).

The other important feature that is often overlooked when shopping for a new TV is the sound quality. Ever since televisions all moved to a flat-screen format, the audio has suffered a lot due to thinner speakers. The result is often tinny sound, leaving you wanting an additional sound bar (which is a pain to set up and usually costs over €100).

Also, most new TVs now have wifi and direct links to Netflix, Amazon Prime Movies or YouTube built in- but there are still one or two that don't. These built-in smart apps are very handy.

Irish Independent

Also in Business