Good news: You're about to get a brand new TV! Bad news: You have to sort through the jargon and the hype of actually buying a new TV. There are always new features and capabilities to contend with, from the industry's refusal to stop talking about 3D, to questions about 4K televisions and OLED screens. Some of the confusion is probably intentional – TV-manufacturers want to arm salespeople with new terminology to justify upgrades and higher prices for premiums choices. So let's cut to the chase and talk about the options and specs that really matter, and some that don't. Here's our no-nonsense advice for buying a great TV, minus the buyer's remorse.
Get An LED, Not An OLED
The most popular flatscreen technology is the LCD, or liquid crystal display. They're thinner than the rear-projection displays that are now extinct, and cheaper (on the whole) than the plasma screens that are nearing extinction. But in their ongoing quest to confuse customers, TV-makers have started calling newer LCD models LEDs (light-emitting diodes), because their screens are backlit with brighter, longer-lasting, and more energy-efficient LEDs. To make things even more disorienting, the past year or so has seen the release of a handful of OLED (organic LED) TVs, which are even more vibrant than LED screens.
Here's all you need to know: LED flatscreens are a legitimate, worthwhile step up from standard LCD TVs, with increased durability and better picture quality. Big screen OLEDs, however, are barely out of the lab, ludicrously expensive, and something you should think about in five to ten years.
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