4k Television Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Source material – is it 4k

• Size of TV desired

• Distance from view point to screen

• Refresh rate

• Display type – OLED vs LED

• Dynamic range and black levels

• Color and clarity

• # and types of inputs

• Integrated speakers or not

• Curved vs flat display

• Location – wall mounted or stand

What To Look For When Buying a 4K TV

4K TV sets are starting to become the norm for the way we watch TV. It's the heir apparent to Full HD and it does a fantastic job of improving on 1080p - by a lot. Here's what you need to know when buying a 4K TV.

What is 4K resolution and Why is it the Future?

In technical terms, 4K resolution is 4096 x 2160 pixels. To put it bluntly, that's a LOT of pixels. In fact, it's 8 million more pixels than 1080p resolution. All these pixels mean more information can be put into a single image, which in turn produces a sharper, crisper image. This, of course, means a better viewing experience.

So why can't buying a 4K TV be as easy to understand as this?

Because Manufacturers Use UHD and 4K Interchangeably

You may have heard of the term "UHD" (ultra high-definition) before. Its resolution is 3840 x 2160. This is the common resolution of most 4K TVs. Understand that 4K is really only used in movie theaters and not a lot of TVs have true 4K resolution. So when you're hit with the terms "4K", "UHD", or "4K UHD", remember that they are all the same.

What Do I Need for 4K TV?

Luckily for you, 4K TV sets are finally getting some love. Services like Netflix and Youtube offer 4K streaming to take advantage of all those extra pixels. However, if you still use cable or satellite, the TVs will still show you 1080p content. No service provider has so far offered any UHD channels, but this should change in a couple of years. Basically, if you don't use online streaming and just stick to cable, you're better off continuing to use that 1080p TV.

What 4K TV Size Do I Need?

This is what might be the most important aspect of buying a 4K TV that you need to pay attention to. If you get the wrong TV size, you will never notice the difference in pixel density on a 4K screen. Here's some homework to do. Whip out a ruler and measure the distance from where your TV will be and how far you'll sit from it. Say you'll sit about 6 feet from the TV. Then you'll need at least a 50-inch screen to appreciate all the goodness and glory 4K is. The basic rule of thumb is, the farther you sit, the bigger the screen. If you have to go for a smaller size, be prepared to sit closer to the TV to really see the difference between 4K and 1080p.

Materials? Brands? Anything Else I Need To Know?

OLED (organic light-emitting diode screens) displays are better than LCD screens, as they produce a higher range of colors. More colors = better quality. The best screens have HDR (high dynamic range), which brings out more detail in pure black or white spaces, which again leads to better quality. A screen with HDMI 2.0 (the newest standard for HDMI cables) will play videos at 60 frames per second, resulting in smoother playback. All these features are what makes a 4K TV different from another.

Some of the top 4K TV brands to look at are Samsung, Panasonic, LG, and Sony. There are others that fly below the radar with some really quality screens, but you don't want to go for a total unknown.

And lastly, 4K technology is really starting to take off. While it's slowly gaining in popularity, it still has some ways to go before it completely replaces 1080p. Good luck when buying your 4K TV.