Displays, demystified: How to choose the right TV in 2024
It's shopping for TVs, made simple. Learn all about modern TV technology and how to tell the good from the best!
Looking to pick up a shiny new TV? That’s great!
With Chinese New Year just around the corner (at the time of writing), it’s certainly the perfect time to do so too. However, if this is your first rodeo, do be careful - there are a surprising number of factors you’ll have to consider beyond pricing.
Much like mobile phones or computers, today’s TVs come with their own plethora of tech terms and jargon that can be tricky to understand if you’re not in the know.
But that’s why we’re here - to demystify these terms and help you choose the right TV for your home.
What to consider when buying a TV
Before you buy a TV, you’ll need to know what separates the good from the amazing, and if terms like “High Dynamic Range”, “OLED” or “8K UHD” have ever kept you up at night, rest assured that you’re not alone. With that said, let’s go through some of these terms and learn why they’re important when buying a new TV.
In the realm of TVs, size does matter, but what also matters is the amount of space you’ve got available at home. Buying a TV that’s either too big or too small can be embarrassing to say the least, so you should definitely take some measurements before you set out.
Speaking of which, perhaps the most fundamental point is that displays are always measured diagonally from edge-to-edge, not horizontally. This error might be a simple one, but it can cost a homeowner plenty if they’re not careful, so we’ve put it in bold above.
The other thing you’ll want to account for is the viewing distance, which refers to how far your eyes should ideally be from the display. Today’s TVs can measure anywhere from 32” all the way to a monstrous 86”, and generally, the wider your screen, the farther away the viewing distance. For starters, a 55-inch TV has a viewing distance of around 2.3-2.5m, so you’ll need to experiment depending on the size of your intended TV.
When tech folks bring up “resolution”, they’re talking about the number of pixels that a display has. You’ll often find it listed in pairs like 1,024 x 768 or 1,920 x 1,080, and the higher the numbers, the sharper your images will be.
This is also where terms like 4K UHD and 8K UHD come into play. Basically, they’re used to reference displays with specific resolutions like 3,840 x 2,160 or 7,680 x 4,320 respectively.
As far as today’s TVs are concerned, the former is currently the benchmark, so that’s a good figure to start with. Yet, a higher resolution doesn’t always mean a better investment even if you do have the budget. The vast majority of today’s entertainment content and streaming services are only tailored to accommodate 4K UHD displays, meaning you won’t always get maximum value out of that pricey 8K TV.
High Dynamic Range
High Dynamic Range, or HDR for short is a hardware feature for TVs that widens the range of colours displayed and improves all-around visual quality. Currently, there are three formats for it – HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.
The main difference between the three is whether their settings – which usually affect brightness, contrast levels and other factors, will fluctuate depending on the scene. For HDR10, the settings are fixed at the start of the programme and don’t change at all throughout – in other words, it uses static metadata. On the other hand, both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision can fine-tune their settings along the way to match the displayed scenes and frames – this is what is called dynamic metadata.
Currently, Dolby Vision is considered top dog among the three HDR formats. It exhibits the best colour depth and is also supported by the widest array of streaming services.
With the size and resolution down pat, you’ll then have to figure out what type of TV you want, and there are a metric ton of acronyms that normally show up in this department. Fortunately, we’ve done up short summaries of each down below, meaning you won’t have to wade through more complex aspects like “backlighting”. In addition, QLEDs or OLED TVs are probably the ones you’ll want to focus on since they’re relatively newer technologies.
Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD): The oldest technology on the list, LCD TVs utilise two layers of polarised glass and another layer of liquid crystal in between them to control the amount of light passing through.
Light Emitting Diodes (LED): These operate similarly to LCDs but use LED backlighting to control imaging instead of cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs). This allows for thinner and more energy efficient displays with better colour contrast than an LCD.
Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diodes (QLED): Originally developed by Samsung, QLEDs are a type of panel technology that use tiny particles – the titular “quantum dots”, in tandem with LED backlighting to improve colouration and brightness levels. Recent developments have also led to the creation of Neo QLEDs, which use more advanced Mini LEDs.
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED): Arguably the baseline for modern TVs, OLED screens use special organic compounds to power their pixels, making them “self-emissive”. Consequently, OLEDs can deliver deeper blacks and much better contrast compared to other display technologies, but often come with heftier price tags.
Quantum Dot In-Plane Switching (IPS): Built with LCD technology as their base, Quantum IPS screens are slightly older compared to OLED and QLED displays but are often cheaper to compensate. They use quantum dots to improve colour accuracy and offer an impressively wide colour gamut as well.
Artificial intelligence is practically everywhere nowadays, and our TVs are no exception. Smart TV technology provides us with an immense amount of utility, so if you’ve got the budget, they’re certainly worth looking into.
Currently, apps like Google Assistant (via Google Home synchronisation) are the most common form it can take, but there are loads of other applications available for different TVs. From letting you to search up YouTube videos with a simple voice command, to linking up wirelessly with smartphones and soundbars, and even improving your entertainment experiences in real-time, a Smart TV is truly marvellous to have around.
In techspeak, refresh rate refers to the number of times your screen processes or “refreshes” the displayed image, and it’s commonly measured in Hertz (Hz) or frames per second (fps). It’s basically a benchmark of how smoothly the visuals flow on your display, with 60 fps being the current market standard for TVs.
Of course, while 60 fps isn’t the limit, it is sufficient for day-to-day use. There are many displays out there capable of rendering 120 fps or higher, making your favourite content much more lifelike. You can definitely consider one of these if your budget allows for it. In fact, these will be especially good if you or your family members intend to play games on the TV as well – after all, nothing makes a fantasy RPG adventure more immersive than smoother visuals!
What are the best TVs to buy in 2024?
Now that we know how to assess a TV, it’s time to start the hunt proper. Normally, digging through and scouting for the right models would be a tiresome process, but fret not, we’ve gone ahead and done some of the legwork for you.
Specifically, we’ve rounded up three recommendations below, but feel free to dig around the Internet for other viable options too (like the Xiaomi TV A 55”). If all else fails, nothing beats hopping down to your nearest electronics store to have a look.
Best Value: LG OLED evo C3 4K Smart TV
- Size (inches): 42”, 48”, 55”, 65”, 77”, 83”
- Operating System: webOS
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels)
- Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
- HDR: Dolby Vision
- Works with Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO, Netflix, Apple TV+
Offering a good balance between performance and budget, Synced’s guide to smart TVs highly recommends the LG OLED evo C3 4K Smart TV, ranking it as their #1 OLED option available today. Broadly speaking, LG’s C Series TVs have all been solid performers in their own respective generations, and this entry is no exception.
It’s also currently ranked in 4th place on iprice’s Top 10 TV list too, sporting improved processors and a wider spread of smart TV features than its predecessor. Prices start from S$1,799 on LG’s official site.1
Best Performance: Samsung Neo QLED 8K Class QN900C Smart TV
- Size (inches): 65”, 75”, and 85”
- Operating System: Android TV
- Resolution: 8K (7,680 x 4,320 pixels)
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz, but up to 144 Hz (with PC)
- HDR: HDR10
- Works with Amazon Prime Video, Netflix
When price is no object and you really don’t mind shelling out extra for amazing cinematic experiences, perhaps you’ll want to consider the Samsung Neo QLED 8K Class QN900C Smart TV. On TechRadar, this is currently their top pick for 8K TVs, offering the best detail and exceptional image processing if Pocket-lint’s review is anything to go by.
Admittedly, it does retain Samsung’s long-running lack of Dolby Vision support, but for all intents and purposes, you’ll probably awe your guests with the sheer majesty of this QLED TV regardless. Prices start from S$6,761 on Samsung’s site.1
Best Budget: Samsung Crystal UHD CU7000 4K Smart TV
- Size (inches): 43”, 50”, 55”, 65”, 75”, and 85”
- Operating System: Tizen OS
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels)
- Refresh Rate: 50Hz
- HDR: HDR10+
- Works with HBO, Disney+, Netflix
For those working with relatively tighter budgets but still want a bang-for-buck TV, fret not because the Samsung Crystal UHD CU7000 4K Smart TV is here to save the day. Equipped with razor-sharp 4K visuals alongside HDR10+, this nifty LED display checks most of the boxes you’ll want from a modern TV.
Even if it does (naturally) trail behind OLED and QLED screens in some respects, its fantastic 4.71/5 rating on Bestbuy (over 1,094 reviews) means you’ll be hard-pressed to find better options within this price range. Plus, the 43” model is currently available as a freebie alongside selected StarHub 2Gbps Broadband plans. Otherwise, prices start from S$605 on Samsung’s official site.1
Complete your setup with the best entertainment content
Needless to say, having the best TV out there means little if there’s nothing to watch. With StarHub TV+ Passes, you’ll be able to pick and enjoy your preferred types of content. From enthralling Korean drama series to intense sporting matches, plus access to popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and much more, you’ll have countless options to keep the family entertained.
On top of that, if you think the speakers on your new TV won’t make the cut (spoiler: they often don’t), rest assured that our new TV+ Pro will get the job done. It’s available as an add-on with our TV+ and HomeHub+ bundles, offering solid audio architecture tuned by the experts at Bang & Olufsen, topped off with Dolby Vision and Google Assistant functionality for maximum satisfaction.
1: All prices listed are correct at the time of writing.