tv-tipsEveryone wants the biggest and the best when shopping for a new TV. You search endlessly for the perfect deal, but get confused when products use complicated language like “pixel pitch” or “dynamic contrast ratio.” At this point, I’m pretty sure they just started making words up to sound cool. But fear no more! I am here to dumb it all down far enough that you could probably let a toddler buy your next TV, though I don’t recommend that.

There are five basic specifications to look for when searching for a new TV. In order of importance, they are: Screen Size, Resolution, Refresh Rate, Display Type, and Input/Output Types. Accumulatively, these are what separate a TV worthy of a Super Bowl party from a TV that would get used less than your laptop screen. You have probably heard most of these words before, but understanding them can be a different matter.

Screen Size

This is an easy one to understand – the bigger the TV, the bigger the picture, and the less you have to see of the outside world. In theory, everyone could use a 75-inch TV, but in most cases, that’s probably overkill. Think about this: the average dorm bedroom will give you about a 12 foot by 10 foot wall to put your TV on. That’s 144 inches wide by 120 inches tall. You don’t need over half of that space going to a TV. A 50-inch TV would look very respectable on a wall that size. Plus, that will give you some extra room for the little things. You know, like food and clothing.


We are all aware of the buzzwords for resolution, and we’ve all had random Best Buy employees yell “720” or “1080p” at us. Lately, you will hear whispers of the all elusive “4K,” so let me translate those for you. Every display is made up of tiny little building blocks called pixels. The more pixels you can cram into a space, the less blocky your picture will look. Don’t buy anything with a resolution lower than 1080p (1080 x 720), because any lower quality isn’t worth any sort of savings you will get. Now 4K (4096 x 2160) is becoming the new standard, but it is very expensive right now. Stick with 1080p. Or don’t, I’m not a cop.

Refresh Rate

This one sounds complicated, but it’s actually very easy to understand. Basically, the refresh rate is the amount of times the TV looks for a new image per second. There are really only two refresh rates to worry about: 60 Hertz or 120 Hertz. I would opt for 120Hz because the higher the number, the less “glitchy” your picture will look. No one wants to be watching an action movie and have it look like a YouTube video on a bad connection.

Display Type

You get your choice of LCD, LED, Plasma, and OLED. With LCD, you may get a cheaper price, but it will likely be bulky, heavy, and might not get as clear of a picture as the others. With LED, you get an efficient, compact TV that is brighter than most. With Plasma, you get great color for a good price, but they don’t make Plasma screens any smaller than about 42 inches. And finally, OLED offers you excellent color and contrast, but can be very expensive. Out of them all, LED or Plasma would be the way to go.

Input/Output Types

What inputs or outputs to look for depend on what you want to plug into your TV. For almost any video player, an HDMI port is what you need, and the more of them you have, the easier your life will be. Almost every TV has a different set of inputs or outputs, but the three basic necessities are an HDMI, a Composite Input, and an Audio Output for things like headphones or a surround sound system.

Let’s review.

We have finally reached the end of our journey, and hopefully you have learned something. If you didn’t read any of this post and just skipped down to the end, I will make it simple for you – you want a 50-inch LED TV, with 1080p resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate, with a few HDMI inputs and some sort of audio output. I have now officially done all of the hard work for you… You’re welcome. Now go out, buy a TV, and binge watch Netflix until your eyes fall out, like any well-adjusted student would.

Do you have a question about your new TV, or do you need to buy a Coaxial cable to get it set up? UMHB’s Information Technology department can help you with all that and more! Check out our website or stop by and see us in Sanderford.