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Five tips for when you are buying a new TV to watch Freeview or Freesat

I have been visiting stores where TVs are sold, and I have five tips to help you get the best value for money from your next TV.

How far is the TV screen from the sofa?  Photograph:
How far is the TV screen from the sofa? Photograph:
published on UK Free TV

Why do TV stores have a layout that makes it hard to view televisions from a "sofa" distance? 

 

Tip 1: Measure the distance from your sofa to the set at home and then replicate it in the store

Retail stores show the TVs on sale in a way that is somewhat different to how they are seen from a living room sofa.

Remember that you should view a TV with your eyes in the centre.  If you’re looking down, or looking up, then you won’t be able to see what the set looks like in normal use. 

The following table shows four optimal distances** in meters to be from a widescreen TV set.  The first “typical” value (shown in green) is the distance away you need to see all of the screen without having to move your head.  

"HD" is the viewing distance to see the benefit of Full HD (“1080p”).  Cinema is the distance you should be for optimal viewing of movies.  The "UHD" distance is how close you need to be to distinguish (“4k”) UHD from Full HD.

TV Screen size vs viewing distance

If your set is 3.5 meters away from the sofa, it won’t look any better to you HD than standard defintion,  even it is an "82 inch" model.  

 

Tip 2: Considering your lighting conditions?

You never see TV sets for sale close to exterior windows.   They are almost always at the back of the store where the lighting is constant … and low.

You might have a room like this at home, but if you don’t you might want to consider that the TV could also be in a well sunlit room when it’s being used, or is used to watch summer sport such as Wimbledon.

The less dark the viewing room, the less benefit you are going to be able to get from new technologies such as HDR (where you can see extra detail when pausing some movies).  If it’s a general use set in a well lit family area, paying extra for HDR or UHD may never be beneficial.

 

Tip 3: Can you see the TV you want to buy with live Freeview or Freesat channels?

When you visit, I bet that all the sets are showing wonderful looking mountains, or time-delay aerial city shots or clips from animated movies. 

If you want a TV at home to watch Homes Under the Hammer or Dave Gorman: Modern Life is Goodish or Judge Judy – ask the store to show you BBC One, Dave or CBS Reality live from Freeview or Freesat.  

 

Tip 4: Does your TV need to be “Smart”?

The problem with buying a “smart” TV is the screen will last much longer than the "smart" bits - the built-in apps it will age badly because you can’t replace the built-in computer they run on.  

The software apps on mobile phones are updated daily whilst the software on a “smart” TV gathers virtual dust.    Touchscreen mobile phones have brilliant interfaces, smart TVs with their clunky, fiddly remote controls have the worst interfaces ever invented.

You might like to consider not worrying about a "smart" TV and use a  £30-ish streaming-device such as Chromecast or Amazon Fire stick, Apple TV or Roku.   You can then use the much more conveniennt (Android or Apple) tablet or phone to select things you want to watch.   If and when the streaming box goes out of date it’s another £30-ish:  you won’t need to throw away a whole TV set to get “smart” software upgrades.

 

Tip 5: Use external speakers

Physics says that it is impossible to make a TV flat and get good sound from it. 

So, don’t worry too much about the sound the TV makes in the store, as you won't be using it: either use an existing stereo or a sound-bar.   A good one should last for many years.   

 

 

What do you think?    Do you have better tips?   Tell me in the comments below.  

 

 ** Note: use this equation to calculate viewing distance, d, from diagonal screen size w, using g=30 (mixed usage), 32 (Full HD), 40 (cinema) or 64 (Ultra HD).  



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Comments
Monday, 2 July 2018
B
Brian
9:09 AM

I am having problems with a 'no signal ' ' weak signal ' on my Sony Bravia TV in the Alton area.It was 1st July .....anybody else affected ?
I also fitted a signal booster some weeks ago to the aerial leading to this TV.Would the hot weather affect the signal ?
I have checked all connections.
I am in rented accommodation with 3 outlets in different rooms.
I have 3 TVs .........2 seem fine but the Bravia is giving me trouble.It has been fine since moving in April.
My new27" Samsung TV in the kitchen gives a good picture .Even running the arial from this Samsung outlet doesn't quite solve the problem on the Sony Bravia.
Any ideas.



link to this
Brian's 1 post GB
MikeP
4:20 PM

Brian:

Please provide a full post code so that we can examine the predicted reception conditions at your location.

Have you tried it without the amplifier? Too much signal strength can cause the symptoms described. If you are using an active (amplified) splitter, does it have a variabkle gain control? If so, try turning the gain down. I hope all the TVs are fed from a proper splitter?



link to this
MikeP's 2,480 posts Platinum Platinum GB
Thursday, 29 November 2018
R
Rod
9:57 AM

Your comment about poor sound on a flat screen tv is inevitable ...I would argue that the soind on many tablets is much better....why not use a similar system or is it just down to cost and hoping to sell soundbars....synical or not?

link to this
Rod's 5 posts GB
Saturday, 1 December 2018
M
MikeB
11:26 PM

Rod: Tablets and phones often have small speakers at the front or side of the tablet, and are obviously pretty close to the user. TV speakers are actually a lot more powerful (2 x 10W on a 40in plus), but are generally tucked underneath, for design purposes.

We want slim flat TV's these days, and that means somethings got to give - and thats the sound. To be fair, even the average CRT was not designed to have great sound, it was an afterthought even then, but the weight and bulk of such a set gave a better resonance and simply more space. TV manufacturers are not trying to make TV's sound bad to sell extra soundbars - its just the nature of the beast.

Spend about ?185 or more on a decent mid range soundbar and you will be fine - 300w or more, digital optical and HDMI input (better sound and the ability to control the volume with the TV remote) wireles sub (much easier to hide away). You can spend a lot more (Sonos is very popular), but even a ?80 soundbar from a decent make will greatly improve the sound, if only because it might be 4 times the output of the TV itself.


link to this
MikeB's 2,556 posts Platinum Platinum GB
Saturday, 15 December 2018
M
Mervyn Lammiman
10:56 AM

No BBC HD News 107, is work still ongoing at Sandy Heath 15th December 2018 11.00 am

link to this
Mervyn Lammiman's 1 post GB
MikeP
12:13 PM

Mervyn Lammiman:

No work is being reported at present and no one else is commenting about loss of BBC News HD. Please check all your aerial cables and connections, unplugging all coaxial plugs/socketys and then refitting. That will clear any possible corrosion/oxidation from the contacts, which is a common cause of loss of one or more siignals. DO NOT RETUNE.



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MikeP's 2,480 posts Platinum Platinum GB
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