Buying a new TV should never be a spur-of-the-moment decision. Money issues aside, new TVs bring with them a host of potential problems that need to be carefully considered before the television is even turned on. Simply buying one without taking the following factors into account will, in all likelihood, result in a return to the retailer. Why waste the time?
Before considering the brand or model, it’s important to measure the physical space where the TV will go. How much room is available? Measure the space horizontally and vertically and write down those numbers for future reference. It’s also wise, when looking at the television on the showroom floor, to bring a tape measure for comparison.
This does not mean that a snug fit is a good idea. It’s important to be able to get behind the television, usually for swapping component cables. If the television is going into the corner of a room, make sure it can swivel or otherwise turn without hitting the wall. This also requires sufficient surface area to set the television on. If possible, hang a flatscreen on the wall using a bracket for ease of movement.
Popular wisdom has it that bigger is better. And, as usual, popular wisdom isn’t always right. Though old tube TVs are still much harder on the eyes than modern plasma or LCD models, it’s still unwise to sit too close to a large TV. Consequently, huge televisions should not go in small rooms. Laurence Sheinman of HomeESP.com provides a safe guideline: take the diagonal measurement of the television and multiply it by 1.5. That’s the minimum distance, in inches, that seats should be away from the TV. Any closer and viewers will probably strain their eyes. If the room is too small to accommodate that length, it needs a smaller television.
The television’s maker will always be an issue. In general, brand name televisions – Hitachi, LG, Sharp, Samsung – are safe to buy and their manufacturers will offer reliable technical support. TVs from unknown makers should at least be researched first, as many no-name companies use inferior parts that won’t last.
Regardless of the manufacturer, it’s crucial to look at reviews of a specific model before buying. Even the big name companies release the occasional dud model and seeing one of these on a store shelf might seem like a great deal. Sites such as CNET can prevent a lot of aggravation.
Modern technology, in general, does not last as long as the old stuff. Purchase an extended warranty for a new television, whether it has a good reputation or not. Read the warranty carefully to avoid loopholes, as many companies will do everything they can to avoid replacing a glitchy television.
Picture quality is more important to some than others, but it’s generally advisable to go for the highest resolution possible when buying a new television. Picture quality from some devices can suffer significantly without the proper resolution and in many cases (particularly with a high definition signal) the connection won’t work at all. If possible, buy a television that can handle a 1080p signal. 1080p-ready televisions typically have a sticker or label denoting as such on the box. If not, check the TV’s tech specs before buying.
Related to resolution is scaling. Lots of folks still have their old VHS and DVD players and these devices will look atrocious on a giant screen. If this is an issue, make sure that the television’s screen size can be scaled down to more appropriate levels.
Old technology has its uses, but it’s generally advisable to purchase a television that was made in at least the last decade. Why? Because older TVs lack the necessary inputs for modern devices. An older TV isn’t going to work with HDMI cables. Many cable companies are also switching to digital signals and older televisions either won’t accept these signals or will require extra equipment. Forgo the extra hassle, even if it means spending some extra dollars.
New buyers aren’t likely to completely outfit their television with the latest gadgets, such as a sound system or any number of gaming consoles. It’s nevertheless important to make sure that the television can accommodate these additions without having to constantly switch out component cables. Try to buy a television with at least two or three complete audio and visual port sets for standard and high definition cables.
As Robert Silva of About.com notes, a big TV might not fit in your car. Giant televisions may require an entire van to move. Plan ahead for this little snag by either borrowing or renting a larger vehicle. Even smaller TVs can be difficult to jam into a trunk or backseat, so carefully measure the TV’s box in comparison to where it’s supposed to go in your car. Worst case scenario, it may have to be delivered at an extra cost.
Though they’re not quite as durable as television sets of old, modern TVs should last for at least a decade. Take proper care of your new TV, shut it off when it’s not in use and enjoy.