Choosing the best TV for your needs can be a little overwhelming, but it’s easy once you know what to look for. Having a few key specs in the back of your mind during your search will streamline the entire process, and ensure your new TV meets all your needs while staying within budget.
It’s probably no surprise that we’re TV experts here at Freeview – so if you’re not sure where to begin in your quest to find the perfect telly, read on for our top five things to look out for.
1. Freeview Play
This one’s a no brainer: if you want easy access to a seamless combination of live, catch up, and on demand content in one place and at no extra cost, Freeview Play is the way to go.
Happily, it comes built-in to most TVs on the market – and even if your TV of choice doesn’t have Freeview Play, a set-top box is all you need to get watching.
So, what do you get with Freeview Play? The smart platform comes with more than 70 standard and a selection of HD live channels, 30 radio stations, and 11 on-demand players – that’s over 60,000 hours of on-demand content and over 1,500 boxsets to enjoy.
And, should you want to top-up your viewing options, Freeview Play supports add-ons such as Netflix, Prime Video, and Now TV for a fully tailored content package.
See our guide to the best Freeview Play products for the top TVs and set-top boxes to buy now.
2. Go 4K if you can
For the best picture quality, a 4K (also known as Ultra HD) TV is the best option. These TVs have four times the resolution of Full HD model, which means you’ll get more detail from your favourite shows and a more cinematic experience.
4K TVs also support High Dynamic Range (HDR) images, which improves contrast and brightness on supported content for a more vivid picture.
Of course, to get the best out of a 4K TV, you’ll need some Ultra HD content to get stuck into. The good news is that the number of Ultra HD providers is increasing, including BBC iPlayer.
HDR is available in a few different standards, and not all TVs support all of them; however, TVs typically support the widest-used HDR standards, so you shouldn’t have a problem viewing content. Check out our guide on how to watch 4K content for more information.
3. The right panel
There are a few different panel types to choose from, each with their own pros and cons:
- LCD (Liquid crystal display) - This panel is typically seen on older TVs, though some manufacturers are still making new LCD models in 2023. Usually cheaper than other panel types, LCD technology can be combined with LED (white lights) or quantum dots (coloured lights) for a brighter look – the latter is known as QLED.
- LED (Light-emitting diodes) - These are used for backlighting in lots of TV panels, often behind an LCD screen to make it brighter.
- OLED (Organic light-emitting diodes) - This is the latest screen technology that allows for thinner panels that have the best contrast levels, accurate colour, and good brightness. Look out for this if you want a really snappy viewing experience.
- QNED (Quantum Nano-emitting Diode) - Like QLED TVs, QNED TVs use mini LED technology, but place a nanoparticle layer in front of the quantum dots layer to absorb unwanted light.
If all that techy jargon fills you with terror, just think of it like this: if you want a cheaper, but good-looking TV, go for LCD or LED. For the best contrast and truly cinematic viewing in a room where you can control the lighting conditions (for example, with blackout curtains), OLED is your best bet.
If you’re watching in a light living room, QNED will likely work better, as these panels tend to be brighter, so you’ll be able to see all the action onscreen without pesky reflections and sunny conditions getting in the way. However, these panels can be pricy.
For gamers, QLED TVs are usually the best option. These screens tend to handle quick-moving imagery more adeptly thanks to variable refresh rates (VRR) and low input lag.
4. Watch out for the manufacturing year
While specs can tell you a lot about a TV, it’s worth finding out which year it was manufactured. Most brands release new TVs every year, but stores will have stock of the previous few years’ models.
These older TVs tend to be cheaper as they won’t come with the very latest technology – so if it’s state-of-the-art viewing that you’re after, go for the most recent model you can.
However, if you’ve seen a quality TV from a few years ago at a decent price and it meets all your needs, there’s nothing wrong with opting for a more dated model.
5. Check the sales price
So, you’ve found a TV you like and best of all, it’s on offer! But how do you know whether you’re actually getting a good deal?
One way to check, is by using CamelCamelCamel to track the price of a product on Amazon. All you have to do is go to Amazon and find the model you’re looking at, then copy and paste the web address into CamelCamelCamel’s search bar.
This will give you a graph showing how the price has changed over time, including the maximum and minimum prices. You may well find that a product has been cheaper before, so isn’t such a good deal; the best TV deals are those where the price is usually high and has been significantly reduced.
Looking for more budgeting advice? Read Freeview’s top tips for saving money on TV.