Why are 4K TVs stupid

Smart or dumb: choose the right TV

Anyone who is currently looking to buy a new television set will find a lot of offers. The large selection makes it cheaper, but not necessarily easier. You should therefore determine a few basic decision-making criteria: what size and features are the minimum, what is the price limit.

The question of resolution does not currently arise: Everything over 32 inches diagonal (80 centimeters) should have 4K resolution with 3840 × 2160 pixels. Even more pixels like those on 8K displays are currently of little use - the content is missing. You shouldn't rely on the supposed future security: Anyone who buys an 8K TV today is unlikely to be equipped for the next few years. Too much has changed in terms of video formats and interfaces for that.

Some people may not be looking for a TV at all, but actually just a large display: A "stupid" TV, i.e. a smart TV without smart functions, can be made fit for Netflix & Co. with a streaming client. But you will hardly find them on the store shelves of Saturn, Expert & Co. Instead, there are smart TVs that have built-in apps for streaming in addition to tuners.

Large displays without smart functions and without TV tuners are usually significantly more expensive than their smart colleagues. The reason: They are designed for 24/7 operation. There are a few "stupid" TVs with tuners but no internet connection. However, these have disadvantages compared to smart TVs: They typically lack special processors for image processing such as moving image compensation, effective noise filters or sophisticated image presets. Smart TVs generally have much more to offer here.

The right display technology

When searching for TV, you are confronted with various technologies: LCD, QLED, LED, OLED or even micro-LED. The first three are televisions with liquid crystal screens, micro-LED also means LCD TV or describes a completely new display variant, OLED TVs use an organic display.

If you don't want to spend more than 1000 euros, the question of whether LCD or OLED currently arises - OLED TVs are generally more expensive. LCD TVs are recommended for very bright rooms because, thanks to their higher maximum luminance, they also present images with sufficient contrast. Attention: With the cheapest liquid crystal screens, the manufacturers save on the backlight, this does not apply to such devices.

In principle, OLED TVs are very high-contrast because their pixels simply remain off at the points where the picture content is black. Color perception also benefits from the rich black. However, the maximum brightness of OLED TVs is lower and the black level increases due to reflections on the screen in a bright environment. That is why the display on the OLED TV fades in the light-flooded living room. OLED displays offer the largest viewing angles, i.e. images with high contrast and color, even if you look at it from the side.

In the case of displays with micro-LED technology, a distinction must be made between conventional LCDs, in the back of which many small diodes illuminate the LC layer, and displays in which the LEDs themselves serve as pixels. The latter are still a long way off. On the other hand, you can already buy LCD TVs with a direct LED backlight and local dimming (FALD): If the TV has a large number of LED zones, this ensures impressive contrasts, which is particularly beneficial for HDR content. The black level of the LCD pixels is not better as a result, and the FALD backlight does not help against the viewing angle dependency of many LCD TVs.

High-contrast display

Modern televisions can almost always reproduce high-contrast HDR content. However, the result depends heavily on the device and the TVs support different HDR formats depending on the manufacturer and model: HDR10 and HLG can handle almost all of them, but opinions differ on HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision. With HDR10 + and Dolby Vision, the video data is dynamically adapted to the respective image content: Samsung relies on HDR 10+, Sony and LG on Dolby Vision, manufacturers such as Panasonic and Philips avoid possible conflicts and simply support both.

If no HDR formats are played back, for example when watching TV, most TVs can still process their display in an HDR manner. As a result, you often see brightly colored, overexposed images.