Buying a TV isn’t as easy as it was 10 years ago. You have tons of brands to choose from and different price-tiers within each brand. While there are many articles and general buying guides out there, that will give you the information on what to look for in a Smart TV, when it comes to video-streaming there are several key points, that you really need to consider before buying a new Television.
This is where the following list with 5 very specific questions comes in handy. We have really looked into video-streaming and what you need to be mindful of, when buying a TV. Besides an explanation why you should consider those questions and what you should be aware of, we have also added some useful tips and charts that will help you make the right buying decision!
What devices do I need to plug into the TV?
The first thing you need to consider as someone who wants to video-stream a lot is definitely what devices you need to plug in. The most important thing you gonna need these days are HDMI inputs. And you probably are going to need more than you think.
If you buy any kind of device, that plugs into your TV in 2019, chances are, it’s probably hooked up with an HDMI cable. From video game consoles, to streaming-video players, to laptops. If it’s a newish device, it’s gonna be HDMI.
You don’t really have to pay attention to the type of HDMI or quality of connection, because contrary to popular believe the HDMI input and output don’t have anything to do with picture quality. Either it works or it doesn’t.
The types of content you consume really make a difference when buying a TV. For examples Sports need different types of settings compared to Hollywood movies, or TV dramas.
But make sure to have at least 4 HDMI inputs and one output in your new TV, so that you don’t have to plug stuff in and out all the time, because with most TVs those HDMI plugs are kind of hard to reach and can be a hassle.
Tip on how to have the right inputs:
It’s going to be a little more difficult if you want to plug in older devices. For example older gaming consoles used to have what’s called “SCART” which you won’t find on most Smart TVs. There are however some exceptions.
But really, it’s not worth ruling out all Smart TVs because of that one outdated type of input. You can fix this really easy, by buying an HDMI to SCART Converter. They typically don’t cost you more than about $20 and do the job. But you will have to plug them into an HDMI input, so again, make sure you have enough of those.
What kind of content do I consume through video-streaming?
Typically, TVs that are shown in showrooms will have very specific settings and preview video to highlight deep blacks, slow-motion movement, make colors seem particularly vibrant. Depending on the brand and the type of store you are visiting, they might show movie trailers or scenes from movies.
Tip on how to get the right picture quality for your content:
Bring your own content.
In most cases customer service people will habe no problem with you bringing a USB stick, or Bluray and watching it on the TV you are interested in. If they know what they are doing, they might even help you browse the settings and make sure that the picture is perfectly set up for whatever movie or TV show you are testing out. This way you will instantly see if the TV plays nice with the type of media you typically prefer.
Another good trick is to turn on cable.
Most TVs in show-floors should be connected to cable in one way or another. Switching from the preview reel to actual TV program, that the sales people can’t control, will give you a far better and more accurate (pardon the pun) picture.
Here is a handy table for easy settings that you can change, that will really showcase the content you want to try out. Just use those settings when you test a TV, to say how well it handles the different kinds of media. Also it’s important that you use the same settings on every TV, in order to really have a fair comparison. Otherwise you might wonder why your favorite movie looks crappy on a specific TV, even though all it would’ve taken, was changing the picture mode or color temperature to get a far better image.
|Mode||Cinema||Gaming||Standard or Sports |
(depends on brand)
|Backlight||About 50% – 65%||70% – 80%||Between 70% – Max, |
depending on sport
How do I consume that content?
The how is almost as important as the what. In this case this really comes down to streaming-platforms and devices you are using. If you are relying on platforms like Netflix and Hulu you should make sure that they are compatible with your new TV.
But, while compatibility is one thing you need to worry about it, really is also the ease-of-use. As we will discuss later, Smart TVs have different kind of operating systems and depending on the operating system the ease-of-use can be quite different.
This comes down to two parts:
1. How easy is it to navigate? The different TV manufacture Especially mid-tier to high-tier models of some brands TVs, such as LG tend to have more advanced types of navigation, like touch pads or full keyboards on the back of the remote. You want to make sure that you can navigate, search and find your content as easy as possible, without the hassle of having to laboriously type out words or phrases to find something.
2. How good is the support? TVs operating systems are pretty similar to what you know from your smart phone. And like with your smart phone, it all comes down to apps. Depending on the TV operating system the amount of apps you are able to get will vastly differ. Some operating systems have only a couple of hundred apps in their respective stores, while others support a few thousand. This can make quite the difference when you want to stream very specific types of files from your computer, for example.
What kind of room do I have?
It really isn’t all about the gear you buy, but also very much about where you set it up. You want to make sure that you are not to far away from your internet router and that you get a good connection. In general, we really recommend to plug the TV directly into your ethernet.
Tip on setting up your room for video-streaming:
If ethernet is not an option, but you have a thick wall or several rooms between you and your router, invest in an Wifi Range extender. The one we have linked by SmartDom has excellent reviews and won’t cost you more than $30. It’s really worth it to make sure your internet connection is as reliable as possible. There’s nothing, I repeat – NOTHING – more frustrating, than your internet crapping out while you’re in the middle of an exciting moment in a TV show, or a close play watching football.
Besides that also think about light. As much as having big windows is nice, in most cases, when you’re looking for the best TV experience, bright daylight coming in is the last thing you want. Make sure you can darken the room with curtains or window-shades.
Another important matter is room size. Specifically how far away from the TV you are going to sit, makes a huge difference.
But, again it really also depends on the type of content you usually consume. If you have a Netflix account with 4K, and a good internet connection you can sit closer than if you watch mainly DVDs or lower resolution content.
Tip on buying the right TV size:
We have a handy guide for you, that shows you what size TV works well with the distance you to the couch:
|TV Size||Distance for lower picture quality |
|Distance for higher picture quality |
(4K and up)
|50” TV||8 – 10 feet (2,5 – 3 meters)||4 – 6 feet (1,2 –2 meter)|
|60” TV||9 – 12 feet (2,7 – 3,5 meters)||5 – 7 feet (1,5 – 2,3 meter)|
|70” TV||10 – 14 feet (3 – 4 meters)||6 – 8 (1,8 – 2,5 meters)|
|75” TV||11 – 15 feet (3,3 – 4,5 meters)||7 – 9 (2,3 – 2,7 meters)|
|80” TV||12 – 16 feet (3,7 – 5 meters)||8 – 10 feet (2,5 m– 3 meters)|
|85” TV||13 – 17 feet (4 – 5,2 meters)||9 – 11 feet (2,7 – 3,3 meters)|
What Apps do I use for video-streaming?
Today, how good your TV watching experience is, is very much connected to the apps you are using. Very much like the iOS vs Android question when it comes to smartphones, the question of the operating system you want to use to watch content on your TV, is quite important.
Basically, you can go two routes: Use a streaming-video playey, like a Roku, an Apple TV or a video game console like the Playstation 4 or the Xbox One. The other route is to use the built in Smart TV features inside your TV, to do all the work of playing apps, video-streaming etc.
But how do you know what’s right for you? Well, it really depends on what you are already using. If you already have a Roku, Apple TV, Firestick etc. and you have all your favorite apps loaded onto it, best stick with it. If you are undecided you should take a deeper look into the different kinds of TV operating systems out there.
What TV operating system is best for me?
There are three TV operating systems, that most TVs use and are honestly the best and most feature-rich. If you’re getting a TV with a good operating system, app support and many features, you should choose one of those three. We have those three quickly summed up for you:
TV Brands that offer Roku TV: Philips, TCL, Element, Insignia, Sharp, RCA, Hitachi, and Hisense.
It’s basically what you get when you buy any type of Roku box, with a couple of extra features. What’s great about Roku is, that since it’s an independent company it get’s basically all apps from all providers. Right now it’s at over 4000 apps total. Roku TV has a really good interface, with a surprisingly competently working voice-assistant feature, that helps your search for things without using the remote. Roku TV is usually used on cheaper brand TVs, instead of the most well-known premium brands.
TV Brands that offer Web OS: LG TVs
LG has long been struggling with it’s WebOS, but in the last couple of years the software has really started to shine. The central part of the operating system is a small launch bar at the bottom of the screen, that allows you easy access to all your favorite apps, without having to leave your program.
Thanks to the integration of Google Assistant, WebOS has probably the best voice integration out of all operating systems.
What’s really cool: You can ask one question and then a follow up question and the Google Assistant will understand that those two questions are related (for example you could search for Will Smith and then refine the search by looking for Actionfilms starring him).
With only a couple of hundred apps integrated into the systems, it does however lack the depth of the Roku TV library.
TV Brands that offer Android: Sony, Hisense, Phillips, Sharp
Android TV brings a lot to the table, when it comes to features. You will get Google Chromecast build in and of course the amazing Google Assistant. There are also tons of ways to combine it with other smart devices, powered by the Android platform.
As a TV operating system in itself user’s tend to describe it as a little more on the buggy side. So if integration with other devices outside the living room, is not a concern, it is probably not the best out of all TV operating systems.
So, there you have it. Those are our six question. If you think all of those through, you are going to find the perfect Smart TV for the best video-streaming experience possible, for sure! We hope this guide helped you out. If you have any more questions, or think we left some points out, let us know in the comments. Happy purchase!