August 18, 2014

Buyers’ Guide for TVs — How to find the best energy-efficient TV

LED, LCD, Plasma, OLED

Written by
Toby Welch

TVs are one of the most difficult electronic devices to buy. The wide variety of sizes, types, models, brands, features and personal requirements makes it a daunting task to narrow it down far enough to make a comfortable purchase decision. Enervee can help — our buyers’ guide doesn’t only show you what the options are, we also help you find an energy-efficient model that fits all your needs!

Different types — LED, LCD, Plasma, OLED

Most TVs that you’ll come across will be LED or LCD. Those two types are technologically not very different, only the way the screen is illuminated differs.

LCD TVs are illuminated by CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps. They can be inexpensive while still having a great picture quality with bright colors and crystal-clear pictures. Especially in well-lit rooms LCD TVs perform great. LCDs are often not as thin as LED TVs and tend to use more energy.

LED technology is becoming more common than LCD — LEDs are thinner and more energy-efficient while having similar tech specs otherwise. They are great no matter how the lighting situation is in your room, and the picture quality is excellent.

Within the LED category, there are two different types: Direct LED and Edge LED. Direct LED allows for great contrast with effective brightness/darkness adjustment. Edge LED make super thin displays possible, but the picture quality isn’t on the same level as directly lit LEDs.

Plasma TVs offer better picture quality than LED/LCD with great colors and contrast. With their glass screens, they are heavier than LED and LCD TVs, they are better suited for darker rooms and have wider viewing angles.

OLED TVs are the latest technology and offer the best picture quality. Even fast-moving scenes can be displayed blur-free. OLED TVs are currently more expensive than LED/LCD TVs and not many devices are available at this time.

Resolution

Which resolution you choose for your TV depends on different factors: How important is the picture quality to you? What screen size are you looking for? How far away from the TV do you sit?

HD TVs have at least 1,024 x 768-pixels while full HD TVs have 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Ultra HD/4K TVs have an even higher resolution than that with 3840 x 2160 pixels. While this will certainly offer you a higher picture quality, there is currently only very little native 4K content available, which means that in many cases, the difference between full HD and 4K will not even be noticeable.

Refresh Rate

The refresh rate (in Hz) of a TV tells you how often per second the picture is refreshed. The more often that happens, the smoother the picture will be. The standard rate of a TV is 60 Hz (which means that the picture is refreshed 60 times per second), but now 120 Hz and 240 Hz TVs are available. Whether the difference is noticeable or not (especially the difference between 120 and 240 Hz) depends on the viewer and their subjective experience. For some content, it is even recommended to turn the refresh rate down since the high rate might make people’s facial expressions look doll-like.

Size

TVs come in many different sizes and bigger is not always better. Depending on how much money you have available, you might be better off with a smaller TV that has a better resolution than with a huge TV with a bad resolution. Also take into account the size of the room and how far away from the TV you’ll be sitting: A small TV might almost vanish in a big room, but if your room is very small, a huge TV screen might not give you the best watching experience. The best viewing distance for a 40 in TV is 6.5 ft and for a 50 in TV 10ft — do you have a room big enough to sit that far away from your TV? If not, a smaller device might be the better choice.

Inputs

If you’re planning to connect any devices with your TV, pay attention to the input options: The most common input for high-definition devices is HDMI and your new TV should have at least one slot for each device that you want to use with your new TV. Getting more adapters later will cost you extra money, so better plan ahead.

Features

New features come up constantly and it can be hard to keep up, but do some research before you buy a TV to find out what’s out there and what you might want to have: 3D: There are more and more movies and games coming out for 3D TVs and if that’s something you can see yourself watching/playing, make sure your TV is 3D ready. You’ll need 3D glasses and a Bluray-player before you can enjoy this feature, but if your TV doesn’t support 3D, you can’t just buy and use those items later.

Internet access

TVs are becoming smarter and more internet-accessible, a nice feature if you enjoy watching youtube-videos or streaming from services like Netflix or Roku.

Energy Efficiency

One factor for energy efficiency in TVs is size: Generally, bigger TVs use more energy than smaller TVs. LED TVs tend to be more energy-efficient than LCDs. The great picture quality found in Plasma TVs comes at a cost: they typically consume two to three times as much energy as an LED TV.

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