If you have a relatively old TV you can actually buy almost anything because the technology has developed enormously over recent years, and even cheap TVs are very good now. At the same time you obviously want the best value for your money, so it’s a good idea to read our expert tests to get a better idea of what’s gone on since you last bought a TV.
One old rule of thumb is 10 inches per metre you have between you and the TV. So in other words you need a 30 inch TV if you're 3 m away and so on. Today large TVs are relatively common and cheap so you can easily break that rule. At the same time, you need to take into account the room where the TV will be, your budget and your own personal preference.
TVs – and screens of all types – are measured in inches (1 inch = 2.54 cm), diagonally across the screen.
When you wall mount a TV, you should generally try to place the middle of the TV screen at roughly your eye height when you’re sitting down. It’s not actually wrong to install it higher than this, but you need to think about what’s comfortable to watch without getting neck pain and so on.
Smart TV simply means an internet-connected TV. Using apps – either built-in ones or downloaded via your TV – you can access streaming services such as Netflix direct on your TV. Modern TVs also have built-in solutions for wireless transfer from your mobile, such as Chromecast or Apple Airplay, and support for voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant.
OLED is a technology unlike the normal LCD technology used by most screens. While LCD/LED/QLED has a light source behind or to the side of the screen, in OLED (organic light emitting diode) screens each pixel is illuminated. In other words, each pixel in an OLED screen is its own light source and, most importantly of all, can be switched off completely too. This means that OLED has much greater possibilities for displaying depth in blacks. At the same time OLED screens struggle to be as bright, which is becoming increasingly important as TVs include different HDR technologies.
It’s the resolution of the screen – in other words the number of pixels high and wide it is. HD/720p has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels and Full HD/1080p has a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. 4K/2160p quadruples the number of pixels to 3840x2160 pixels.
HDR (high dynamic range) is a collective term for a couple of different technologies that give a broader spectrum of colours and higher contrast. It works by merging several images with different exposures, which when combined give more detailed blacks and colours. If the TV and the film you’re watching have HDR, this usually feels like a bigger image improvement than the difference between 4K resolution and 1080p.
Switch off your TV and wipe the screen with a damp microfibre cloth. If there are spots that you can’t remove like this, you can buy special screen cleaners. Spray this onto the microfibre cloth (never directly on the TV) and rub on
The easiest way is to use Apple AirPlay, which can send images and film from an iPhone or iPad. For this to work you need either a more recent TV that supports Airplay, which some manufacturers have supported since 2019, or you need an Apple TV that can act as the receiver for Airplay for your TV.
Another slightly cheaper approach is to connect a Chromecast, which is supported by some iPhone apps you can use to transfer images and film but isn’t quite as convenient as using Airplay.
If you have an Android phone or tablet (which is pretty much all of them except Apple devices), Chromecast is the cheapest and easiest way. If you have a more recent TV, support for this is usually built-in, but otherwise you can buy a Chromecast quite cheaply and insert it into your TV. To find out more about Chromecast, see our detailed guide on the subject.
We're assuming you're buying a TV to get a bit of a cinematic feel at home. If you’re just going to watch the news, it doesn't matter much.
Naturally, it's important that it will fit on your TV stand or wherever you're planning to put it. Thinking it would be nice to mount it on a wall, but don't know how? Check out this guide we've found for you.
Furthermore, there are dozens of other more or less scientific studies that will tell you how big a TV you should have in relation to how far away you'll be sitting from it. A simple rule of thumb is to have a distance of half a metre per ten inches, so if your sofa is about three metres away, you should have a 65-inch TV.
Finally, it rarely hurts to go up a size if you have space for it and you find the larger size to be affordable.
Whether you’re playing PS5, PC or Xbox, gaming is the new hot topic on the TV market. If you're running a PC on your TV, you should keep an eye out for Freesync or G-Sync support, depending on your graphics card. Naturally, both PC and console players should strive for refresh rates of 120 hertz and the potential of automatic VRR (variable refresh rate) adaptation.
We hate to say it, but the sound on new TVs is terrible. A TV's speaker will provide sound, but it is generally not very good, nor particularly powerful.
Add a sensible soundbar to your TV budget if you’ll be watching more than the news, because we're not kidding when we say half the experience is in the sound. Browse our soundbar category and see if you find one that suits you.