Buying a new TV isn’t as simple as it used to be. Once upon a time, if you heard the words “plasma screen” or “high definition,” you knew you were in for a cutting-edge viewing experience. These days, advertisements throw around words like “HDR” and “OLED” without explaining what they mean. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, a gamer, or a film geek, we can help you find a TV to suit your interests.
Best TVs for Sports
Since watching sports is often a social activity, you’ll want to find a large screen for you and your friends to gather around. In team sports, such as football, a bigger screen will also help you track all the players as they move across the field or court. It’s no fun to have to stand next to the screen and strain your eyes just to make out a number on a jersey!
The most important feature for viewing sports, though, is motion handling which is measured by a TV’s “refresh rate.” TVs with a high refresh rate update their displays often enough to keep the image from blurring together with all that fast-paced action.
Best TVs for Gaming
A good refresh rate is also important when it comes to gaming, especially if you want to take advantage of the high frame rates of the Xbox Series X or the Playstation 5.
You’ll also want to look for a TV with low latency (aka “input lag”). This is how quickly a gaming console transmits information to the TV screen. On a TV with high latency, you may see a delay between when you press a button and when you see the result on screen. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms), and the lower the number the better. Anything around 50ms should work great for a casual gamer, but serious online gamers will want a latency of 30ms or less to keep up with the competition!
Best TVs for Movies
Cinephiles who love art films will want to see realistic colors and contrast on screen. A TV with HDR (high dynamic range) will provide the best possible visual experience and allow visuals to appear as filmmakers intended. Though resolution isn’t quite as important as dynamic range when it comes to visuals, most modern TVs are “UHD” (ultra high definition) or “4k” and deliver 8 million pixels of viewing pleasure as opposed to the 2 million pixels offered by 1080p TV screens.
A soundbar will enhance every viewing experience, but it may be the most important for enjoying film. As TVs have gotten lighter and thinner, there has been less room for good built-in speakers. So, make sure to factor in sound when budgeting for a new TV. You might consider a bundle that includes a subwoofer, too. The rumble of bass can really make your entertainment set up feel like a real theater.
For more information on picking the right TV, check out our TV Buying Guide.