How I Find The Best TVs
Sometimes finding the best TV for movies is easy and other times it is hard. Whether it’s the color gamut that just barely makes the cut, the TV just not being large enough, or if it is simply too expensive, I weigh all the options I can to make sure all the heavy lifting (pun intended) is already done. So to help fill in the blanks of my top 5 smart TVs, I’ve organized the most important information below.
Color Saturation Is Key
So if you’ve been shopping for a smart TV, you’ve probably noticed the “4K HDR” tags on nearly everything. Granted most brands use this as a marketing ploy, but the best TV for movies, need to be able to produce a high-dynamic range. The bottom line of a HDR is to help smart TV better replicate a more realistic picture that older television sets were not very good at. So what is it exactly?
In short, it is mainly looking at the nits that a TV can produce. So basically, when you look for the best TVs for movies, you’re literally nit picking, but in all seriousness, nits are a measurement of luminosity from a light source. In the case of TVs, it is in reference to two different concepts: Contrast and Color Saturation or color gamut. Contrast is the difference between the darkest blacks and brightest whites in the picture while color saturation is more of a range. The larger the range, the more colors the TV can represent and produce brightly to you as the user.
Though, as this is a huge game changer for the best TV for movies, be warned that 4K HDR content is not every where and can be hard to find in places that aren’t movie related. This is what makes it an ideal trait though. It allows each movie to look exactly as it was intended while maintaining an immersive feel throughout each scene. To give a little visual I’ve added (to the right or below) some images that represent different standards of color gamuts to give you an idea of what colors you might have at your disposal or the ones you’re missing out on!
back to menu ↑
Contrast and Local Dimming
Another important piece for any smart TV that is meant for movies will be its native contrast ratio, and its local dimming features with how well these features perform. A contrast ratio is a fairly easy metric to understand. It is a measured amount of how much brighter the white pixels are than the black pixels. This infers how deep the blacks in the picture will be and how clear your content will look. It is often expressed as “x:1” where X is equal to white pixels and the 1 equal to the blacks pixels. So, imagine you saw a 5500:1 contrast ratio, this would then mean that particular smart TV displays white pixels approximately 5500 times brighter than its black counterparts. Furthermore, that kind of ratio is well above average and you can expect a nicely crisp picture for your content. In addition to a clearer picture, the contrast ratio also allows for a better viewing experience in a darker room. This is why for the best TVs for movies it is weighted so heavily because no one exclusively watches movies in the daytime.
In conjunction with the contrast ratio is its closely related brother/sister if you will. Think of the contrast ratio as a static measurement that remains that way as content is played, but local dimming is more dynamic and adapts as the same content is played to enhance the contrast ratio. You’ll often see many different smart TVs that have different local dimming zones to help enhance this feature further, but it comes down to whether or not the zones they do have actually work as they’re intended. Some unwanted effects might be blooming around bright colors or solid white pixels, zones that do not respond fast enough because they are too large, and if the smart TV is too assertive with its dimming effects. On the flip-side, the best TVs for movies will usually have many zones that are very small in comparison so that they respond quickly. This prevents parts of the screen from being dimmed when they should not be and overall helps your eyes from becoming annoyed by the changing brightness of the screen.
back to menu ↑
4k vs 1080p Resolutions
Choosing the right resolution can seem hard, but for the best TV for movies, you will want 4k support every time. See, a resolutions is just the number of pixels up/down and left/right in a screen viewing space. 1080p resolutions only have 1920 pixels to the right, and 1080 pixels up which is where the 1920×1080 name came from. On the other hand 4k options have 3840 to the right or left and 2160 up or down. This means that 4k resolutions literally offer 4 times the amount of space as its 1080p counterpart, but what does this mean for you?
This means you have more pixels to fill with information, which leads to a clearer picture and also allows for you to sit further away from the TV while getting the same viewing experience of a 1080p smart TV. The only sincere drawback to 4k TV sets at the moment are that 1080p options are becoming more affordable than ever. So if you’re on a tight budget you may want to consider a 1080p television, but when it comes to the best TVs for movies, you’ll want 4k any day of the week.
back to menu ↑
Inputs Matter No Matter What
This might seem simple enough to skip over, but it is still very important. When looking for the best TV for movies, you’ll want to seek the ideal inputs. This is because even though the TV itself can support an HDR signal, that same information must be transferred through the HDMI cables through our media devices as well.
Though, all of the inputs play a role in fully taking advantage of your smart TV, the most important are going to be the HDMI port with a doubt.
The first being HDMI 2.0A input ports. I recommend 3 or more as many smart TV come with an average of 3 nowadays. This is very straightforward, but without these inputs you’ll being missing out on many details inside of the picture. These bad boys offer 4K resolution support which is another topic I’ll cover below. In short it allows you 4x the pixel space 1080p content allows for which gives you a more refined and sharp picture. HDMI 2.0A also support HDR and Wide Color Gamuts which are linked very closely. Without either the picture quality drops tenfold. Finally, the 2.0A input ports offer 60 fps support. This is truly ideal for content that is sourced higher than 30 fps and prevents judder from being introduced into the picture. This in turns give the best TVs for movies an advantage because they give a much more immersive experience than its counterparts.
|Ideal Smart TV Inputs
Supports 4K, HDR, and Wide Color Gamuts @ 60 fps
Stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection and is needed for playing copywritten content.
|Display Port 1.4
This is a very rare, but sought after input for PC monitor use.
The second are the HDCP 2.2 ports. These work in a similar fashion as the 2.0A ports, but they are needed for watching copy-written content. Also remember that (if you come across content of this nature) a situation like this isn’t a one-and-done scenario. Every link in your viewing/video/audio chain must support HDCP 2.2 ports— your smart TV, video source, and any component the video signal passes through. If one doesn’t, getting a 4K picture will become a hassle.
back to menu ↑
back to menu ↑
I actually have a good article over refurbished smart TVs
with their pros and cons. In short: I do not recommend these types of televisions too often, but they can potentially save you money depending on the situation.
This is actually quite simple once you know what you’re looking for. You should not be looking down towards your smart TV nor be looking more than 15 degrees up towards it either. I cover this topic more thoroughly inside of my TV Viewing Distance
You’ll want to look for a good series of native contrast ratios, low response times, 4K support, and the ability to prevent reflections or glare when hunting for a good smart television. This is especially true when you have a small budget as with the top smart TVs under 500 dollars.
For video games, you will want a low input lag. This helps the TV actually show the changes in the game you make with your controller inputs. As for sports, the best addition to a good picture is a low response time. This helps the action seem smooth and helps prevent eye-tracking.
I use the Minlota LS-110.