Buying a TV – here's how to proceedScreen size, OLED or LCD, viewing angle? Before buying a new TV set, many questions arise. Here are some answers.
Televisions under test Test results for 292 televisions
The right screen size
The prices of large televisions have fallen sharply in recent years. Now, more and more people are deciding to buy a TV with a 55- or even 65-inch screen diagonal (140 or 165 centimeters, respectively).
The devices take up a lot of space. Smaller models are increasingly treated stepmotherly, especially by the big providers: Top picture quality is reserved for large TVs, and quite a few providers are no longer even launching 32- or 24-inchers on the market.
From giant to normal size. Four common screen diagonals in size comparison. © Stiftung Warentest
And what seat distance?
– We consider rules of thumb for calculating the minimum seat distance, such as screen diagonal times three, to be outdated. – It depends on the quality of the picture material: With a series in UHD resolution, no pixels will be visible even from two meters away. The year-old vacation video, on the other hand, looks blurry up close.
Choosing the right screen type
Anyone who wants to buy a new TV has a choice between two types of screen:
Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED).
Standard for many years have been LC displays with liquid crystals and LED backlighting. New developments include LCD televisions equipped with nanoparticles, often marketed under the terms LED, NanoCell, QLED or Triluminos. In addition, there are full-surface mounted and locally dimmable LEDs that provide better contrast. LC screens are very bright and can display large white areas such as snowy landscapes well. In dark areas of the picture, however, the backlighting sometimes shines through a bit. The result: areas that are actually black tend to look dark gray.
Tip: In our big TV set comparison, you can look for test results for
In OLED televisions, the individual pixels light up themselves, which is why they do not need a backlight. They display a very rich black, because the pixels no longer glow when switched off. Even at oblique viewing angles, the picture on them is usually still good, unlike LCDs. In our tests, OLED TVs achieve the best marks for picture quality – but they are also more expensive on average than the LCD competition.
Tip: In our database, you can find the test results for
Personal preferences also decide
All techniques have strengths and weaknesses that can be generalized. When buying, however, it naturally depends on the specific model: In individual cases, an LCD TV may well be better than an OLED set.
The manufacturers of the screens, called panels, continuously reduce their specific disadvantages. OLED TVs show brighter images than before, and LCD models create richer blacks, meaning better contrast and crisper images than just a few years ago.
Good TV pictures even from the side
Flat-screen TVs lose contrast when viewed from the side. Images then look flatter than when viewed from the front – when looking at the screen head-on.
If you often watch movies with the family or invite friends over to watch soccer, you should pay attention to the individual rating "viewing angle" – which you can find in the comparison view of our TV database, for example, by opening the group rating "picture.
Setting the TV correctly
As delivered, TVs often do not deliver the best possible picture. To find out how to improve the picture and sound, read the article Setting the picture and sound optimally.
The correct resolution of the television
Flat-screen TVs can show sharp images. But for this, they need appropriately detailed signals. The state of the art is television broadcasts in high definition (HD). Images are sent with up to 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, or around 2 million pixels. You can always receive the public channels in HD. Set the program places immediately to the HD programs of ARD, ZDF and so on. Private broadcasters charge a premium for HD quality.
Tip: You can find out more in our article How to receive HD and UHD television.
Televisions with Ultra HD
Ultra High Definition (UHD) has 3,840 by 2,160 pixels – four times as much as Full HD. UHD TVs not only show more detail, the newer ones also improve contrast and show more color gradation (HDR).
UHD still ekes out a niche existence in conventional TV programming, but streaming portals are gradually converting their offerings to UHD via the Internet. An alternative are Ultra HD discs, but they only run on UHD Blu-Ray players.
Glossary: TV Chinese explained
Your head is buzzing with technical terms? Our TV glossary explains key terms such as LCD, OLED, upscaling and HDMI.
If you want to delve deeper into the topic of power consumption and the energy label, you can find information on this in the article Standby: Off is off?
Why HDR is important for televisions
The abbreviation stands for High Dynamic Range, for a high contrast range. Televisions with this technology can provide more color gradations. Display stronger contrasts than devices without HDR.
In particular, larger models with UHD resolution should definitely offer HDR, because without this technology, the high resolution is of little use.
Pay attention to the power consumption of the TV
Factor in the cost of electricity. These depend heavily on the size of the screen: even if a small and a large TV are in the same energy efficiency class, the large one normally draws significantly more power. With the trend toward particularly high UHD resolution, energy consumption for the same screen diagonal has increased significantly. HDR mode also usually consumes more power due to the higher maximum picture brightness.
When you buy the TV in the store
Keep in mind: It is often much brighter on the sales floor than at home. Have the room lighting turned down if possible.
View the right test program
The movies shown on the TVs are produced specifically for the high-definition devices. Detailed images of the Serengeti. Models in front of a vacation scenery should inspire you. That's a trick.
Stay critical. Ask to bring in TV images from a news station. Does the presenter's complexion look natural? Blurred or jerky font scrolling in the news ticker?
Have the picture settings of the demonstration device shown
Is the picture bright enough without brightness and contrast being at maximum?? Can you still see colorful pictures even from the side? If the TV is set to "store" mode?