From OLED to UHD: The ABCs of Today’s TVs

At times, it seems like TV manufacturers are throwing out random letters to label their new tech innovations.

But don’t sweat it – we’re here to help explain.

With the Big Game mere weeks away, you might be looking for a new screen to watch those hits, scores and commercials. If so, here are some helpful definitions for the most-used TV acronyms and terms.

HDTV

If you’ve purchased your television in the past few years, it’s most likely an HDTV. That stands for high definition, and it’s probably 1080p. So that means the short side of the TV has 1,080 pixels – you know, the individual dot you see when you peer closely at a screen – and the long side has 1,920 pixels. Bet you never realized your screen had 2 million pixels, did you?

4K or Ultra HD

These terms are interchangeable, so rest easy. And the math is simple. This TV technology has four-times the pixels than an HDTV, giving it a much sharper, higher-resolution picture. Along the short side of a 4K TV are 2,160 pixels, and the long side has 3,840 pixels, offering up 8 million total pixels. While cable, satellite and over-the-air channels aren’t currently offering 4K content, a 4K TV will upscale the picture to make it near-4K quality. As for a true 4K channel to tune into, that’s where DirecTV comes in. You’ll need the latest Genie HD DVR, a DirecTV package and a 4K TV to make it happen.

Upscaling

If you have a 4K UHD TV at home and you’re watching a Blu-ray disc, or TV on cable, satellite or over-the-air, your 4K TV will upscale or boost the picture to make it even sharper. If you want to stream 4K content, you can snag a 4K streaming device like Roku Premiere+ and Chromecast Ultra, or a 4K UHD Blu-ray player. Speaking of streaming and Roku, did you know you can stream the game for free on Roku. Here’s how. 

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

We’ve been talking about more pixels with the previous two definitions. Now we’ll talk about better pixels. High Dynamic Range offers a wider color gamut – or range of colors – for the TV to display. Compare the color range on a TV to crayons. TVs with HDR play with bigger boxes of crayons, creating images with more shades of color to provide a picture that’s more lifelike than ever. Not only that, but the HDR contrast creates the detail that makes the screen pop.

LED TVs

LED stands for light-emitting diode. LED TVs are the most common TV type on the market, delivering a great overall picture quality. LED TVs are a good choice for all lighting conditions, especially well-lit rooms, and they often have very thin profiles. LED TVs are actually part of the LCD (liquid crystal display) TV family. If you currently have an LCD TV at home, consider an LED as a good replacement because they feature comparable brightness for well-lit rooms.

OLED TVs

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. These TVs offer great contrast, wide viewing angles and a picture that is nearly blur-free. Each one of the millions of pixels is individually illuminated (LED TVs are backlit), producing true blacks and a wide range of colors. OLED technology also allows for extraordinarily thin screens. If you currently have a plasma TV – some of the first flat-panel TVs to hit the market – check out OLEDs as an upgrade.

Smart TV

Your TV is smart if it has a connection to the internet. Simple as that. This can happen two ways: one, you attach a streaming device like Roku, Apple TV or Chromecast, and two, your TV’s interface has it built in. (Some Sony TVs feature Android TV, others feature built-in Roku.) This allows you to stream Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and surf the web and much more with just a few clicks.

Hertz

When you see 60Hz or 120Hz next to your TV specs, this is hertz or the refresh rate. It’s the number of times in which the screen will completely rebuild its picture in one second. (So either 60 or 120 times per second.)The more times the screen refreshes, the smoother the images will appear. So the higher the hertz, the better the picture.

 

Looking for more? Click here for the TV Buying Guide complete with instructional videos. And if you’re looking to find that perfect television, this handy tool can help.