Correction appended Friday, Mar. 10
It’s not easy buying a TV, and retailers don’t like simplifying it, either. Urban legend has it that big box stores often tweak the settings on their wall of televisions to subtly guide consumers to the model they want to sell that day. Turn down the brightness here, add a pinch of contrast there, and viola, you’ve got one screen outshining the rest.
In theory, online shoppers should have an advantage in weeding through all the options. But without the naked eye as a guide, and with a dizzying array of marketing terms and specifications to wade through, its very difficult to weigh one screen against the others.
The glossary below eliminates the noise and cuts to the chase, helping you determine which specs matter so you can pick the right television for your baseball games, Bachelorette viewing parties, and, most importantly, your budget. Once you’re ready, check out our list of the best TVs for every budget.
Here’s the most important thing for you to know about 1080p TVs: they’re just about obsolete. Also called HD or high-definition, 1080p (and 1080i) was the latest and greatest tech 10 years ago. Today, though your cable company still only broadcasts in high definition (and not in 4K), you don’t want to buy a 1080p TV — unless you’re working with a very small budget. 4K is here, and unless you’re on a shoestring budget, it’s worth buying a TV set capable of displaying it.