How Choosing TV For Your Home Theatre Setup Can Be Made Easier

Remember that line from the TV show FRIENDS, where Joey asks, “No TV? Where’s all your furniture pointed at?” Even though we now live in a slightly different world where Netflix & Chill is cooler than watching actual TV programming, a television is still the centrepiece of most living rooms. Therefore, choosing TV for the right setup is critical.

Who this article is for:

  • If you haven’t yet bought a TV for the planned Home Theatre, then hang around.
  • If you need advise just for picking the right TV, hang around for that too.

Televisions are now available for every type of budget, but it’s important to pick the right one. Let’s understand these.

Choosing TV based on the room’s size

Since your room will be a major factor in deciding the size of your TV, let’s tackle that first. There is a simple formula that states the ideal viewing distance from TV should be 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal screen size. So, if there’s a 4 to 6 feet of viewing distance available, the ideal screen size should be a 32-inch TV.

The above formula is based on the fact that you’re opting for a Full HD (1080p) resolution for your TV. Our advice? Stick to 1080p, even though 720p resolution TVs may appear sharp, the future of content being made is all in 1080p. There is some available in 4K too, but we’d recommend sticking to a 1080p TV rather than upgrading to 4K, since very limited content is available with that resolution.

To summarise, here’s a cheat sheet that will help with choosing TV on the size you ought to get for your room, based on available space.

Screen Size Viewing Distance
32 inch 4 – 6 feet
40 inch 5 – 8 feet
42 inch 5.2 – 8.75 feet
50 inch 6 – 10 feet
55 inch 7 – 11.5 feet
65 inch 8 – 14 feet

The other important aspect to consider here is the couch in which you will be sitting. Well, not just you but your family and friends too. If it’s a wide couch with some furniture to the side as well, then also consider the viewing angles of the TV.

Angle and viewing area

Simply put, this refers to the angle from which you comfortably view a TV from. If you’re dead-straight in front of the TV, that’s a 90-degree angle but if you’re sitting almost parallel to it, that’s a 180-degree angle. Naturally, the higher the number, the better it is for people with wider couches and side seating.

Although it’s not ideal to watch anything wider than a 120-degree angle, at time you might have too many guests and for those unlucky to be seated at the side, a wider viewing angle will be beneficial. A wider angle ensures the picture doesn’t look washed out and is nearly as sharp as it is when watching TV at a dead straight angle.

LED, LCD or Plasma? What should you buy?

You’ve probably heard terms like Plasma TVs, LCDs and LED TVs for a while now, but do you really know what they mean? Essentially these are the ‘panels’ which produce the final image running on different technologies. The most popular among these is an LED TV, which has small LED lights which illuminate the panel but the panel powering the picture is still an LCD.

choosing tv
Choose a TV that fits correctly with the room’s size

In recent years, we’ve also seen an emergence of OLED TVs, which are essentially made of organic LEDs lighting up each pixel. The resulting picture quality is stunning, however in India, only LG sells OLED TVs. If money is not an issue, then we’d recommend an OLED TV for the best viewing experience.

While LCD panels may be cheaper, we recommend you look at LED TVs in a similar price range. LED TVs used to be expensive at one point in time but now you’ll find one for every budget range. I’ve personally purchased a 40-inch LED TV for a sum of about Rs. 23,000, which probably wasn’t possible a year or two ago because of fewer options.

What about those Smart TVs?

Smart TVs have gained popularity this year but the advantages they provide over a regular TV aren’t that great. Especially in India.

Why? Firstly, every Smart TV would need a good Wi-Fi connection. If your living room isn’t able to catch the Wi-Fi which the router kept in your bedroom is generating, then that’s too bad. The Smart TV will function as a non-Smart TV.

smart-tv
Smart TVs are cool, but not necessary

Secondly, with the advent of gadgets like Google’s Chromecast and Apple TV, it essentially takes a different gadget connected to your TV to turn it into a Smart TV. The older generation Chromecast was listed for a mere Rs. 2,000 not too long ago but even the current generation Chromecast costs Rs. 3,399.

These dongles can connect to your home Wi-Fi and let you stream media from any smart device to the TV where it’s connected. They are relatively easy to set up and don’t require any maintenance, making them ideal to save money while getting Smart TV-like features on any TV.

Understanding the terminologies

There are various terminologies involved, with brands opting to define their own colour panels in a certain way and coming up with terms for patented technology. Let’s look at the broadest of these.

1. Refresh Rate

This term can be easily defined as the number of times an image is displayed per second. A TV is showing us moving images and this term defines exactly how many images is the TV capable of showing within a second. Thus, if the spec sheet of a TV lists the Refresh Rate at 60 Hz then it means that the TV is capable of showing 60 frames in a second.

For most users, this is the magic number – 60 Hz. TVs below 60 Hz should not be considered and those boasting of really high refresh rates of 120 and above are ideal for people who follow fast-moving sports (read: Formula 1, Table Tennis, etc.) as well as gamers who want a big display to enjoy their latest console games.

2. HDR and Dolby Vision

HDR support ensures the deepest black and and the best whites you can possibly get on a display of any kind. But content made for HDR TVs is even more rare than that made for 4K TVs, especially here in India.

Another variant of the same technology is Dolby Vision. TVs equipped with Dolby’s special chip are the ones certified with Dolby Vision but they are few and far between. These features aren’t really needed but if feel like spending more, then by all means get a TV with either HDR or Dolby Vision.

3. Triluminous and Quantum Dots display

Sony and Samsung have released TVs with Triluminous and Quantum Dot technologies in the past few months. Both these technologies are similar as they make use of a nanocrystal layer between the panel and the LED array for a wider colour gamut.

quantum-dot-tv
Quantum Dot Technology is Samsung specific | Image courtesy: Flickr

These are brand specific terms and won’t be found in other brands like LG or Panasonic.

4. Local Dimming or Active Dimming

This term describes the active dimming of LEDs at particular positions to give a deeper black, thus increasing contrast. This term will be found in Full HD LED TVs only. Also, it would be better to select a full array backlit LED TV than an edge-lit LED variant.

Things to keep in mind

1. Positioning the TV

It is imperative that you get the position of your TV just right. It should ideally be at eye-level and wall-mounted is preferred for saving space that a wall-unit may occupy. Even if you have a wall-unit, it’s okay to work with it and adjust the TV so that it meets your eye-level while seated on the couch.

ideal-tv-position-wrong
Not an ideal position for any TV

Another important factor to keep in mind here is the exact position with respect to light. Nothing ruins a good TV-watching experience more than direct light falling on it. So, keep your TV in such an area where there is little to no sunshine coming across in the evening and none of your indoor lighting is falling on it.

2. I/O ports

Since we’re choosing TV for a Home Theatre system, it’s important that it has the right type of I/O (Input/Output) ports. You should definitely aim for a TV with more than 3 HDMI ports, as 2 will be needed for a set-top box as well as a console. Additional components will need more ports.

Moreover, if you’re willing to pay more for a 4K TV then ensure it has HDMI 2.0 ports. All 4K content needs this port for the best viewing experience whereas for the best audio experience look for the optical audio port. A TV which fulfils both these requirements will surely have the right number of USB and other ports you need for connecting other components of your Home Theatre.

3. Curved TVs

The new kid on the block for TVs has curves and it provides a more immersive viewing experience than any other kind of TV. The biggest disadvantage with them, other than the ostensibly high price tag, is the fact that they can’t be wall-mounted. Which means some kind of wall-unit is always needed.

curved-tv
Oh, those curves | Image courtesy: Flickr

Though the idea is definitely not a gimmick (like 3D TVs), it still is very expensive to own a curved TV right now. Sure, they look amazing, but aren’t practical for setting up a Home Theatre.

Alternative: Projectors

If you want an even bigger display to enjoy your movies and other media, then a bigger TV won’t cut it. What you need is a projector. There are various kinds of projectors out there but if you have a large white wall with deep pockets, then a projector is a great alternative to an expensive 4K TV.

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