The Goods

Your guide to TV shopping in a world of smart technology

Tech expert Jesse Hirsh answers all the questions that make this purchase such a process.

Tech expert Jesse Hirsh answers all the questions that make this purchase such a process.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

If you've recently shopped for a TV and found yourself struggling to make sense of all the tech acronyms and fancy terms, you're not alone. New innovations are emerging every single day so it can be hard to keep on top of the trends. Thankfully, tech expert Jesse Hirsh stopped by The Goods to answer all the questions we had about such a confusing purchase. Here's his primer on TV features and trends to help make your shopping a little less complicated.

How much should I spend on a TV?

Hirsh's strategy is to not invest too much in a new TV, since styles and features are always in flux. It's difficult to stay up to date on all the new features and that's because whatever model you buy today will inevitably be obsolete in the not-so-distant future. This is a result of the "planned obsolescence" that governs the tech industry, meaning companies release products they know will age rapidly due to the rapid rate of technological change and our current high pace of innovation. But companies also need to keep up with demanding consumers who want the newest innovations today, so he explained that it's a bit of push and pull between offering new products and not angering recent customers.

What makes a TV 'smart'?

A 'smart' TV is actually a computer with a monitor, so it can run apps and connect to the internet. Some smart TVs and their remotes even have microphones so that you can verbally interact with them, meaning you can change the channels just by speaking. While this coach potato feature may appeal to some, Hirsh noted that we need to remember that it also has potentially serious implications when it comes to privacy. Like any computer, smart TVs can be hacked, so he says it's a good idea to check the privacy policy and the privacy settings on these devices to make sure you know what you're sharing. That microphone can listen, so it could potentially record what it hears. Be sure to ask about updates and about the software features that are included as part of the TV before you buy to avoid any surprises down the line.

What's the difference between 4K and OLED?

4K speaks to resolution. It's ultra HD, which allows for even greater detail. But if you buy an internet-enabled TV, and want to watch Netflix, YouTube etc. in 4K, remember that your home network and internet connection needs to support those speeds, especially if you plan to connect via Wi-Fi. Look at the number of inputs on the TV to be sure it meets your needs (i.e. multiple HDMI inputs, etc). Right now, there isn't a ton of programming in 4K, but there will be in the future, so keep this in mind if you're thinking about buying.

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. It means that every single pixel can have a different colour and brightness. This technology allows for greater control over each pixel which results in a more dynamic colour range, resulting in a deeper and sharper picture.

How can I incorporate it into my decor?

Despite TVs getting smaller and smaller, and much more aesthetically pleasing, a lot of people hate the look of a TV in off-mode. Samsung's solution is a model called The Frame, and more brands are likely to follow suit because a TV like this can switch from art mode to programming for a much more pleasing look. It looks like a piece of framed art that can be hung on the wall and Hirsh believes this device illustrates how we're no longer really talking about television, but rather a window unto the world, given that these devices are often connected to the internet, thousands of TV channels or on-screen images. This particular model even has a sensor that detects the light of the room so it can automatically adjust for the correct contrast and brightness. As Hirsh pointed out, perhaps one day we'll have computer/television/art hybrid devices like this hanging in every room.