You might think that TVs are less important these days in the face of ubiquitous smartphones and handheld computers, but that small screen can only do so much for you. Moreover, it’s no secret that smartphone screens can badly ruin your posture and give you headaches. So really, if you’re at home, you need to make it a habit to look at a TV screen instead, and that’s where smart TV specs come in.
There are so many brands and models for smart TVs today competing for your money and attention. And good smart TVs are significantly more expensive than other screens so you’ll be saving a lot if you know which smart TV specs to look for.
As always with screens, the most important specification will always be the number of pixels it can fit inside its rectangular confines. Pixels determine every visual element in a digital space so naturally, you’d want as more of them as you can afford.
And unlike in desktop monitors, higher resolution in smart TVs have no hidden cost– you don’t need a beefy computer to run 4K resolution pixels. The TV alone is fine. Suffice to say, you’d want a 4K TV as a lot of movies and streaming services are gravitating towards that resolution.
1080p is still decent and a lot more affordable, but for TV sizes bigger than 40 inches diagonally, you can likely make out the individual pixels or pixel clusters in 1080p.
As for 8K resolution for smart TVs, it’s still too expensive, but go ahead if you can afford it. The difference is mind-blowing.
The kind of panel your smart TV has or just about any screen is often an underrated specification. Panel type is a lot more important for TVs than it is for monitors since you’ll presumably be watching the TV with other people in the room or at odd angles especially if you like watching TV while lying down (or other positions).
Point is, you don’t want the TV’s colors, contrast, and lighting looking washed out if you watch it at any other focal point that isn’t centered. Panel type happens to be the biggest determinant of a TV’s viewing angle.
If you’re watching as a fairly large family (4+ people), you’d want at least an IPS (in-plane switching) panel for a TV as those have a 180-degree viewing angle with no color or contrast shifts if you’re watching at an extreme angle.
VA (vertical alignment) might be more affordable and might produce deeper blacks or better contrast, but that won’t matter much if the only person seeing those benefits is the one sitting at or near the center. Still a great option if you’re the only one watching or if there’s only two or three people viewing it.
Of course, if you want the best of both worlds, you can always pick a smart TV with an OLED or Mini LED panel– however, those are still painfully expensive, especially if they’re at 4K resolution. Both panel technologies are relative newcomers to the scene and are naturally more pricey.
Size is subjective here and it goes without saying, but bigger is more expensive. Bigger, however, allows you to sit further away and enjoy a more evenly spread out pixel density which is important for 4K.
Bigger TVs naturally tend to have more features packed in since they’re also more expensive. And if you have a VA panel with a big TV, then the viewing angle will be less of an issue.
This will entirely depend on how much wall space you have in your house.
Refresh rate isn’t really as important in smart TVs compared to gaming monitors but if you like watching action movies and shows, or playing fast-paced video games, then they can make a difference. Higher refresh rates result in smoother movements and less motion blur during movements.
120Hz is a good refresh rate for a TV though you’re also fine if a 60Hz model is the only one you can afford. You can still comfortably play video games on that TV.
It’s also important for these kinds of refresh rates to come paired with smart TV A.I. so they can further smoothen out movements and make the frames more consistent.
Color grading for smart TVs typically comes in the form of HDR or high dynamic range, which in photography, determines the range of light and dark tones in images. This can significantly alter colors to make them more vivid and lively.
Higher HDR numbers are naturally better and more advanced, but most smart TVs these days come with HDR10 and that’s a good baseline to aim for during your purchase or window shopping.
Latency is more important for gaming more than anything else since a high enough latency can make televisions unfit for gaming. You’ll be adding the input latency from the Bluetooth controller, the internet (for online games), and the gaming console on top of the TVs latency and the final output might frustrate you if the TV is adding a big chunk of lag to your gameplay.
Sadly, this isn’t something that a lot of stores and sellers list so you’ll have to do your research for specific models if their latency is acceptable for gaming or if they at least have a dedicated gaming mode that lowers latency.
Smart TV Capabilities
A smart TV with its own software that interfaces with Netflix and the most common streaming services is almost a must these days especially with cable packages and networks failing to put out 4K shows and movies.
Always ask for that. A smart TV with its own Android browser or YouTube app is also quite handy if you need something more tailored to your needs and activities. That or at least the cast compatibility from your smartphone is a welcome addition.
Along with your budget or price range for a TV, these smart TV specs are what you need to look out for if you want a good home theater experience.