01.Back to basics
Deciding between a plasma or LCD TV? Or perhaps you're after a HD projection system
. Buying a TV in the 21st century is no mean feat. Even some lower-end models come with a confusing variety of features. Then there are all the different screen types to negotiate – not to mention getting your head around new technologies like 3D
or digital TV
Follow our steps to making an informed TV purchase. Then browse all our television reviews.
The four most important things to assess when buying a TV are:
- Picture quality
- Sound quality
- Ease of use
- For starters, you'll want good picture quality.
- Some TVs can give a good picture for certain scenes, but not for others. So when you're shopping around make sure you give the sets more than just a cursory glance – there are differences.
- Check for realistic and natural colours, particularly for skin tones; picture clarity; and overall tints – sometimes you might see a greenish or yellow tint that can't be removed by adjusting the controls.
- There are differences between models, so make sure you listen closely and adjust the volume to see how loud it is without distorting, though it can be hard to judge sound quality in a noisy store.
- Also check the position of the speakers: some sets have them facing straight down from underneath the screen, which could muffle the sound if you’re intending to put it in a cabinet.
Ease of use
- Play with the controls, especially the remote, and make sure the more commonly used buttons (volume, channel selector, standby and mute) are prominently positioned and easy to operate.
- A good instruction manual is invaluable. Ask to see it, and check that it's well written and easy to read.
- Modern TVs can be very large, but how big is too big?
- You can probably sit closer with high definition screens (around 3 times the screen's diagonal measurement). But remember they have to fit in your room and if you sit too close you’ll have to move your head to see the action, which can be tiring.
Video: TV buying guide
Chris Ruggles takes us through the ins and outs of choosing a new TV.