A Guide to Selecting a 4K TV
The resolution of our televisions improves all the time. 4K resolution has been state-of-the-art since around 2012, even though they introduced 8K resolution TV in 2020! You’ll see 4K TV advertised in a number of ways. Some manufacturers will refer to it as “UHD” (“Ultra High Definition”, as opposed to FHD, Full High Definition), “Ultra HD”, or “4K UHD”. They all refer to the resolution of the screen. A 4K TV has 3,840 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical pixels. The “4K” means that the TV is capable of (almost) 4000 horizontal pixels of resolution. That means that there are over 8 million pixels on the screen! Having so many pixels allows you to produce a smooth picture, even if the screen is very large. So you’ll see 4K TVs in sizes such as 43”, 55”, 65”, and even a humongous 85”! Even if you view the screen up close, the images and action will look lifelike, since the individual pixels are much smaller.
But there are still other specs to consider other than the resolution of the TV and the size of the screen. There are different technologies behind how the screen is lit, which influence the screen’s contrast and color range (as well as the cost). There are also other nice additions, such as voice-control features and object-tracking sound. We’ll try to go through some of these features, to help you decide which TV is best for your needs!
What are the advantages of having a backlit TV display?
Some 4K TVs are edge-lit, but the more expensive ones are backlit. The advantages of a backlit display are:
Less eyestrain: Having a backlit screen increases the total amount of light in the room, so your eyes don’t feel strain when switching from a very bright screen to the average illumination in the room.
Less glare: You won’t need more ambient light in the room, since the backlight lights up the room and the screen.
Better contrast: Dark colors will be more distinct and rich when there is a bright backlight.
Increases TV’s longevity: Since you have a better-quality picture and more contrast already, you can reduce the screen’s brightness. This saves power and is less taxing on your TV.
Types of 4k Tvs
We already know that a 4K TV has a resolution of over 8 million pixels. But there are other specs that can vary from one TV to another. Let’s look at some of the options in the Best Reviews Guide list of the best 4K TVs:
Edge LED backlighting: In this TV screen, there is only a single row of LED (=Light Emitting Diode) lights around the perimeter of the display, distributing light across the screen to light up a liquid crystal display (= LCD) panel. This technology is less expensive, but the contrast and range of colors are not as good as in a full-array LED screen. But the screen can be very thin and light. It also uses less power than the alternatives. An example is the Samsung 55” Class Crystal UHD TU-8000 4K HDR Smart TV.
Samsung 55” Class Crystal UHD TU-8000 4K HDR Smart TV
Full-array LED screen: In this type of 4K screen, the entire screen is covered with LEDs. This allows for illuminating the lighter parts of the display more accurately. An example is the Sony X90J 50-Inch TV. It utilizes a technology called “Cognitive Processor XR”, which detects where the focal point of the action is and recreates the image to emphasize that focal point. Similarly, it recreates the sound so that it comes from the side of the screen where the action is unfolding!
Sony X90J 50-Inch TV
Mini-LED: There are manufacturers that make 4K TVs with full-array LEDs, but where the LEDs are much smaller and denser. This is called “Mini-LED”. Smaller LEDs allow for more accurate control of the backlight. An example is the Hisense QLED Series Quantum 4K ULED Mini-LED 55-Inch TV.
Hisense QLED Series Quantum 4K ULED Mini-LED 55-Inch TV
QLED: This stands for “Quantum Dot LED”. It is an upgrade on backlit LED screens and is cheaper than OLED technology. Instead of using LEDs, it employs phosphorescent nanocrystals to light up the LCD screen. You’ll also see ULED, which stands for “Ultra LED”. It is the QLED technology employed by Hisense in their TV screens. These screens employ local dimming of the individual pixels, as opposed to turning off pixels to produce dark colors. An example is the Hisense ULED 4K Premium 55U6H Quantum Dot QLED Series 55-Inch Smart Google TV.
Hisense ULED 4K 55-Inch Smart Google TV
OLED: You’re probably familiar with an OLED screen without even being aware of it since it’s commonly used in smartphones. But there are OLED TVs as well. This stands for “Organic LED”, and is a totally different technology from the previous LED screens that we examined. The screen contains an organic compound in a layer that emits light without recourse to a LED backlight. An OLED screen can adjust the brightness of each pixel individually, for a better contrast between dark and light parts of the screen. An example is the LG B2 Series 65-Inch Class OLED Smart TV. These are considered to have the widest viewing angle and can be made thinner and lighter than QLED screens.
LG B2 Series 65-Inch Class OLED Smart TV
What reviewers say
Here are some customers’ impressions about the 4K TV that they bought:
HDMI ports: You’ll want a TV with several HDMI ports, to allow you to attach cable or satellite TV, a video game console, or for attaching audio equipment such as a soundbar.
Voice controls: Most of these 4K TVs are enabled with voice controls, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, or Bixby. You can change channels, adjust the volume, or even turn the TV off just with voice commands!
Here are some tips from the manufacturers and users of the most popular 4K TVs:
Object-tracking sound: Besides amazing graphics, these 4K TVs also have very advanced audio features. One of them is “object-tracking sound”, where you’ll hear 3D sound from the part of the screen where the action is transpiring. For example, if a car whizzes by, you’ll hear how the sound is sent to the speakers on one side of the screen to the other! This feature is included in the Samsung 43” Mini-LED Smart TV.
High dynamic range: When choosing a 4K Ultra HD TV, you'll come across the feature of High Dynamic Range (= HDR). HDR is one of the most important features of 4K Ultra television sets. It ensures more colors, enhanced brightness, and greater contrast levels. After going through several 4K TV reviews of various types of 4K TVs, we have found out that most customers look for these features while choosing their television.
Consider the design: Take note of the design of the 4K TV, and find out whether it will be suitable for your living room. You must consider factors such as whether it is going to be wall-mounted, or placed in a cabinet. Choose a minimalist design, because then it will blend seamlessly with the rest of the room decor.
Nits: You’ll see that a TV’s brightness is expressed in “nits”. When talking about TV sets, a “nit” is the level of brightness produced by 1 candela (approximately a single candle) per square meter. The number of nits of a TV display allows you to compare the brightness of different TV sets, as well as to get an idea of how much power the TV must use to be this bright.
Upscaling: An important feature to check for when purchasing a 4K TV is “upscaling”. You can enjoy lots of content that is already produced with 4K resolution, such as TV shows, 4K streaming services, and 4K user-generated content on YouTube or from someone’s smartphone. But, what if you’re viewing content made at a lower resolution, like FHD or 1080p? There are 4K TV sets that are capable of upscaling: they will automatically increase the resolution of a lower-resolution movie and optimize it so that you can view it with 4K quality.
We went through some of the features of the best 4K TVs. They come in a wide variety of sizes, and the size will influence the price. Besides picture and sound quality, consider whether you want to mount the TV on a wall, to the ceiling, or in a cabinet. These 4K TVs can transform your living room into a home theater and gaming station at the same time!