What to look for when buying a
television

Quality and Performance

Darks and brights

The quality of the picture can be affected by how well black and white is reproduced on the screen. Higher quality TVs have better ways of displaying pure black and bright white - sounds simple but the results can be stunning.

Energy efficiency

Just like your dishwasher, TVs have different energy ratings. The better the rating the less energy you will consume - most TVs typical use around £15 a year in electricity. One thing to bear in mind simply choosing a smaller TV could save more energy than a bigger TV with a good energy rating.

Picture quality

Probably the biggest difference with a new TV compared to your older one is the quality of a screen. In most models you will be able to sit closer to a bigger TV than before without feeling uncomfortable. If you can afford to spend more you'll gain richer colours, deeper blacks and brighter less reflective screens. To see it at its best you will need a good source like Netflix Premium, Sky Q or a 4K Blu-ray player plugged in.

Richer colours

One of the most recent advances in picture quality has seen a big improvement in the range and richness of colour in TV screens. If you are looking to future proof your TV purchase look for a TV with this capability. There aren't many film/ TV sources available yet that can produce the necessary signal but this will be on the increase.

Sound

Whilst TVs have got slimmer and picture quality improved it has been at the expense of sound. In most cases if sound matters to you then you should look at connecting a separate sound system. Headphones are great for personal use, a soundbar gives you a simple boost in a single box or the ultimate option is a full multi-speaker surround sound system.

Latest model

Like most electronic devices, TVs are being upgraded regularly. Latest models tend to have better features but you can often find that an older model will do everything you need and has been discounted giving good value for money.

Features

Smart

Smart TVs let you connect to internet services (like Netflix or BBC iPlayer) so you can watch catchup TV, stream movies, play games or post to social media sites. This is pretty much a standard feature on all TVs now so you are unlikely to find one without it. If you will use it a lot it's worth checking the range of services on offer before you buy.

Viewing angle

Some types of TV work better at wider angles than others. With lots of people in the room consider a TV with a wide viewing angle. If there are less people sat more centrally then sometimes a lower budget TV with a standard viewing angle can deliver a better picture.

Recordable

If you plan to use the built-in tuner for your TV service (in the UK this is usually provided by Freeview) this may be a useful feature. This will allow you to record and pause live broadcast content coming through your aerial or satellite dish. One thing to note, some TVs can do this but require you to buy an additional hard drive that you plug in. If you use an external TV box like Sky or Virgin you probably won't use this.

Inputs

We identify how many input sockets (called HDMI) all the TVs on sale today have. It's important because if you have a soundbar, games console and TV box this could use up 3 straight away which could leave you short for adding other devices in the future. Apart from some small and lower priced TV most come with at least 3 - ideally look for one with 4.

Innovation

We keep track of TVs with the very latest technology innovations. Innovative features tend to be in the higher end models.

WiFi

With this feature your TV can connect directly to your WiFi network enabling it to access the internet and offer Smart services such as watching catchup TV, movies on demand and even playing simple games. You will find this is standard on virtually all TVs except the smaller and very basic budget TVs.

Size and styles

Curved

This was a trend a few years ago but most brands are phasing these out. Intended to make your viewing experience more immersive. If you are sat directly in front of the TV it can be great however it gives a very limited view for others sat to the side. Some models are still available but they tend to be more expensive than a traditional flat format.

Good on wall

If plan to put your TV on a wall instead of on its stand you will need to consider its size and format. Don't forget to check your wall can support the weight, you get the right bracket, you can access the connectors and ideally plan how to hide the cables. The best ones tend to be slimmer in relation to the overall size and avoid curved TVs as they can look awkward mounted on a wall.

Size

Consider how many will be watching and where you will put your TV then go for the largest you are comfortable with - the quality improvements in the latest models means you can sit closer than you did with your last set. Large TVs at 49-50 inch are ideal for a typical family lounge. Go bigger if you have a large open plan space or you want a cinematic experience.