When TVs first became available and affordable in the average home it was common to buy one set and use it basically for the life of the owner. The box cabinet would be set up in the corner of the lounge room and pretty much stay there forever, only to be retired when the picture literally became unwatchable.
Now though TVs are retired young, way before their prime as bigger, better and thinner screens become available pretty much yearly, if not more often. Add to that the flux of new technology that falls into (and out of) favour; 3D TV, plasma, rear projection, Smart, and it seems as though you’re almost required to get a new TV every two years.
So when do you actually need to upgrade?
First thing’s first, if you are looking to buy a TV for the backyard we actually advise against it. Instead, upgrade the TV in your home and move your existing flat screen TV to the outside. While SealTV provides IP rated fully weatherproof/shockproof cases for outdoor viewing, the best place for your newest and brightest technological addition is inside.
Other than that, from a practical point of view, your upgrade should really happen when the new models on sale significantly outperform your current TV.
In the past five years flat screens have increased picture quality but not by much, so if your current TV is less than five years old then you are probably best to hold onto it for a while longer. The only real advantage to upgrading within the five year block is to get a better looking TV, so it’s your casing and surrounds that can determine the look and feel of your watching space, or to go larger if the TV you have is proving just too small for your viewing space and number of people.
With size these days, anything is possible including cheap and easy to run projector screens if you really need to fill a space.
Super thin and super large screens are now so affordable, it can feel like you are obligated to keep up with the Jones’s.
Attractiveness is probably one of the biggest things that will have you considering a new TV and the market is aiming at that with curved screens, no border and art like images to keep things stylish even when the screen is off.
If you current TV is more than five years old, chances are technology has improved enough that you will get better results from an upgrade.
How to tell which screen outperforms your current one is a little trickier as you can’t slot your existing TV in beside a new one at the shop so that you can do a side-by-side comparison. The best you can do is compare online. Try a website like CNET to see if you can gain a visual comparison between screens and get some specs that might help you decide how much a new screen will impact your viewing.
Start with contrast ratio to give you an idea of picture quality. While contrast ratio is not always as accurate as the manufacturer would like to claim, it’s a good starting point. Pay attention to the black levels (the lower the better). It gives a cleaner picture, contrasts with colour more vividly and helps with the illusion that the action is actually happening inside your darkened lounge room.
The other element that gives a significant contrast boost is High Dynamic Range (HDR).
HD4K TVs do not add much to picture quality despite the quadrupled number of pixels compared to a standard 1080p TV. You’ll find the viewing pretty much the same, but with a cheaper price, although it might still be a viable option if you watch a lot of Blu-ray quality movies.
If you already have Foxtel IQ or a subscription to a streaming app like Netflix then this will be a redundant feature because you can already access online movies and TV on demand (albeit through your computer or through an additional box conversion). A smart TV has all the standard streaming features and apps built in as well as the ability to check email and use the internet. However, if this is your only reason to upgrade perhaps wait until the unit you upgrade to offers a few more features to your current model, unless you know you will get the full use out of your TV steaming and prefer this to a laptop.
Want to save the planet (or maybe just your power bill?) the difference in energy output is not going to outweigh the costs of buying a new unit or the environmental damage of disposing of the old one.
Again, if you are moving your old TV outside, the running costs will actually increase with an additional unit, not decrease, no matter how ‘green’ you go.
Overall, if you find a deal on a new TV that’s too good to miss then go for it and enjoy your TV time, but make sure the investment is one you will actually use.