Consumers purchased more than 225 million televisions worldwide in 2020. Americans purchase more than 35 million TVs each year.
Unsurprisingly, more than a dozen companies manufacture TVs around the world. This includes electronic giants like Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Vizio, Sony, Panasonic etc.
People consume billions of collective hours’ worth of content via television set on an annual basis.
Many households subscribe to cable and streaming services that offer hundreds of channels for viewing live and on-demand content.
All the above mean that a TV set is one of the most popular electronic devices that exist in our households.
In this article we’ll discuss and explain the various types of TVs in terms of screen size, resolution, television technologies etc.
Today’s Televisions Come In Countless Configurations
Of course, televisions come in many different screen sizes and resolutions. Even screen type and screen technology varies from unit to unit.
Potential buyers need to consider the abundance of technologies baked into certain televisions as well.
Plus, televisions with similar specifications vary widely in overall picture quality and audio quality.
An individual cannot purchase a TV unit without knowing what they’re buying. Nothing is worse than setting up a new television and realizing that it’s lackluster.
Let’s start by discussing TV types by screen size:
Types of TVs by Screen Type:
Most television manufacturers long ago settled on flat-screen TVs with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
That particular configuration remains the sweet spot regardless of screen size or screen technology.
Nonetheless, curved televisions hit the market starting in 2013 thanks to Samsung and LG Electronics.
Flat and curved screens remain the two options on the market, but consumers won’t need to consider other screen types.
Square, circular, and oval television screens don’t really exist, for instance.
An overwhelming majority of consumers will purchase a flat screen television. They’re simply more common than curved screens these days.
To the viewer, such TVs offer great viewing angles and an excellent viewing experience.
It doesn’t matter whether one person or five people sit in front of the TV. Flat screens provide the smallest possible overall footprint as well.
Simply put, manufacturers and consumers alike have prioritized flat screen televisions for many years now.
Curved televisions rose to prominence in 2013 and were manufactured by multiple companies.
Manufacturers touted them as a more immersive viewing experience. Individuals sitting close to the screen may see more screen content because the curve wraps around their peripheral vision.
However, curved screens don’t accommodate multiple viewers well for this same reason.
This screen type never gained much traction in the market. Only a few curved television models remain on the market at the moment.
On the other hand, curved computer monitors remain somewhat popular among gamers.
Types of TVs by Screen Technology:
Screen technologies have evolved over many years. In fact, early televisions relied on mechanical parts to display an image.
Today’s televisions rely on electronics to relay and display content. Cathode-ray tube (CRT) TVs gave way to Plasma TVs, which then lost market share to LCD, LED, QLED, and OLED televisions.
Each of these technologies comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Strangely, CRT and Plasma TVs remain popular on the secondhand market for certain types of users and viewers.
CRT (Direct View) TVs
Manufacturers released the first CRT televisions in the 1930s. They remained prominent through the early 2000s and stopped production in 2015.
As suggested by its name, the CRT relies on a vacuum tube with electron guns to display images.
Images are essentially created by electrons which are shot onto the screen at the speed of light, line by line.
Viewers won’t notice this occurring and will instead see a crisp and clear image on screen. A given CRT TV provides crisper and smoother images than other types of televisions.
CRTs typically range in screen size from 19 inches to 43 inches. During their manufacturing cycle, these televisions were produced on the smaller end of that scale.
It’s almost impossible to find larger CRTs in any meaningful number. They also have fewer port and connection options due to their popularity before technology evolved. Nonetheless, CRTs remain popular on the used market for some categories of gamers and other users.
Since CRTs used a vacuum tube, such units were often quite bulky. They look nothing like today’s televisions from the rear view.
Viewers will immediately notice the weight and size of these units. To the average CRT enthusiast, none of these details matter compared to the benefits of owning and using a CRT television, though.
Plasma Screen TVs
Plasma televisions utilize plasma cells that respond to electric fields in order to display images.
In the 1990s, the first widely available plasma TVs were sold to consumers. Such televisions offer excellent brightness and a wide color gamut.
The blacks of a plasma TV look much deeper and darker than LCD panels. Also, a plasma TV offers excellent viewing angles and high refresh rates.
Plasma displays offer a great viewing experience for everyone in the room.
On the negative side, plasma TVs suffer from screen burn-in during prolonged use.
Power consumption is higher for plasma TVs compared to LCD TVs. These units often weigh more than LCD televisions with a similar screen size.
At one point, consumers purchased millions of collective plasma TVs. This particular type of television started to lose market share rapidly in 2007, though.
No major manufacturer currently builds and sells plasma televisions in any meaningful quantity, if at all.
Nothing is more popular than the liquid-crystal-display (LCD) TV. Consumers buy more LCD televisions than any other television type.
In simple terms, liquid crystals are manipulated electronically to produce an image.
Manufacturers released LCD televisions in the 1980s, but they didn’t rise to prominence until 2007.
That year saw LCDs take over CRTs for market dominance, and nothing has changed since. LCD televisions are available in virtually all screen sizes from small to large to gigantic.
LCD televisions provide a strong balance between affordability and overall characteristics.
For example, they’re thin and light compared to other television types. They tend to cost less money than competing LED or OLED panels as well.
Consumers sacrifice a bit on higher power consumption. Similarly, LCD panels output a lower contrast ratio and poorer color gamut compared to other technologies.
More than a thousand light-emitting diodes power the average LED television. Each LED lights up in order to light up pixels on the TV screen.
Compared to LCD panels, LED panels use 20 percent less power during operation.
An LED television should be thinner and lighter than a comparable LCD television, too.
Unlike LCD panels, an LED television provides a more vibrant and colorful image. Contrast on LED displays is better than the average LCD panel. These televisions tend to cost more than LCD TVs on average.
Quantum light-emitting diode (QLED) televisions work similar to LED TVs. Instead of regular LEDs, they utilize quantum dots to display an image.
With these quantum dots, QLED panels offer incredible brightness and color richness.
QLED televisions often come at a premium and are available in larger screen sizes only.
Buyers will experience lower power consumption and higher brightness than a typical LED television. A backlight is still required in order to power a QLED TV.
QLED types are considered the middle ground between normal LED and OLED TVs discussed below.
Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) are similar to LED and QLED TVs in name. However, consumers won’t find a backlight with these televisions.
Every single pixel on the television is also a small LED light. OLED televisions offer the deepest and richest blacks of any other television type for this reason.
On top of that, they provide excellent viewing angles and refresh rates as well as color gamut and contrast.
OLEDs don’t consume much power and are quite durable to boot. These TV types are the most expensive but they are also considered the best TVs in terms of picture quality.
Types of TVs by Resolution:
Without a doubt, consumers care about screen resolution in this day and age. Resolution determines how many pixels exist within the displayed image.
A higher resolution (and more pixels) amounts to a better looking and crisper image.
There’s an argument to be made that the average person doesn’t notice the difference between the highest resolutions. Regardless, the average person will appreciate the difference between each option.
Standard high-definition (HD) televisions display 1280×720 pixels during use. On smaller screen sizes, viewers will see a crisp and detailed image.
A 720p resolution is recommended for televisions under 32 inches. Most viewers won’t notice the resolution on a small television, regardless of what that resolution is. In most cases, an HD television will cost less than a higher resolution unit with similar specs.
Full HD (1080p)
Typically, most people would consider full high-definition 1080p the standard option for televisions.
These televisions output 1920×1080 pixels in the image. A 32-inch 1080p screen outputs more than double the pixels of a 32-inch 720p screen.
While viewing a 1080p screen, viewers will see crisp images at most screen sizes. The difference between image quality for 720p and 1080p screens is quite pronounced.
Ultra HD or 4K
Ultra HD televisions manage to pack 3840×2160 pixels into their displays. In this case, 4K televisions provide four times as many pixels as a 1080 screen.
Consumers may notice 4K televisions tend to exist in screen sizes over 40 inches.
The benefits of 4K resolutions don’t matter much in smaller screen sizes. As screen size increase, though, 4K televisions provide an incredibly crisp and immersive viewing experience.
4K TVs are nowadays the most popular types sold since many streaming (like Netflix) and cable services started delivering 4K movies as well.
Finally, 8K televisions offer 7680×4320 pixels within the display. That’s 16 times the number of pixels as a 1080p panel.
8K televisions remain somewhat rare and quite expensive at the moment. They’re the newest technology and resolution touted by manufacturers.
For that reason, a purchase might seem egregious due to the cost and sheer number of pixels.
Technically speaking no other resolution provides as crisp and clear of a viewing experience, though.
Important Features of TVs to Be Aware Of
Known as HDR, high-dynamic range allows a television to provide brighter highlights.
Such televisions also provide better color detail than non-HDR televisions. The practical result for viewers is a much punchier and immersive image.
To achieve this result, manufacturers attempt to make darker blacks and brighter whites.
Most high-end televisions include HDR as a feature, but not all content is available with HDR.
Refresh Rate: 60Hz or 120Hz
Refresh rate controls how many times per second the image refreshes on screen.
In basic terms, a TV’s refresh rate controls how smooth and realistic the image appears. Most televisions feature a 60Hz refresh rate by default. The image looks crisp and clear to the average person.
For 120Hz panels, everything looks smoother and more photorealistic. There’s a noticeable difference in quality on larger televisions when it comes to a higher refresh rate compared to a lower one.
TV Ports (HDMI 2.1, USB ports, etc.)
Each television comes with its own assortment of ports. In the past, this meant televisions included HDMI 1.0 ports, VGA connections, and more.
Today’s televisions often include HDMI 2.1 ports for more powerful data transfer.
USB ports range from USB-A to USB-C and allow accessories to be connected to the television such as USB sticks for playing movies included in the stick.
Sometimes, other specialized ports allow the connection of audio equipment and other hardware.
Sound Technologies (Dolby Atmos and DTS:X)
In the end, a television with the best resolution and viewing experience is nothing without high quality audio.
Higher audio quality immerses viewers into the content they’re viewing. Dolby Atmos technology enables sounds to be processed as 3D objects.
Therefore, Dolby Atmos equipped televisions and sound systems output better surround sound. Viewers will hear sounds over a wider range between their speakers for better immersion.
DTS:X is a similar but competing sound technology to Dolby Atmos. Through DTS:X, viewers remain in total control of their surround sound system.
The technology aims to provide more immersive sounds with any home theater sound setup. A properly equipped receiver can customize the sound profile of DTS:X content without the need to move around the physical speakers, which is quite convenient.
Certain televisions feature the hardware and software for these sound technologies built-in.
Otherwise, the software might be installed but require a separate home theater system.
A buyer’s budget will determine how immersive they can make their surround sound setup with these technologies.
Either way, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X make a pronounced and noticeable difference in audio quality and immersion.