All posts by Brian

Brian Westover is an Editor at Carrier Devices, covering everything from TVs to the latest PCs.

How Much Power Do You Need for a Portable Generator

Portable generators are often used for a variety of reasons. There are plenty of choices once it involves getting a generator. They are available in all told shapes and sizes, and you initially have to decide that vogue you wish.

So it can be a question for you how many watts do I need for a portable generator. This is often determined by the generator’s application. For RVs, camping, and tailgating, you’ll desire a recreational generator.

For home backup, you wish to associate an emergency generator, either transportable or standby. You’ll then have to size your generator in step with your power desires.

How Many Watts Do You Need for a Portable Generator

One of the primary issues in obtaining a portable generator or any generator can be deciding how many watts you will need to cover your preferences.

Portable generators are typically convenient power choices that are used as key and backup ability options during a sort of thing. You ought to use a light-weight generator simply as:

  1. An emergency thanks to getting power for the house or enterprise institution.
  2. For outside recreation as a key supply of ability for tailgating, tenting out, and RVing.
  3. To change on tools in a job, farm, or maybe a construction website.

Camping Generator Watt Requirement

For a small camping trip, you will probably need a portable small camping generator to power the lights and charge your phone and laptop. For a bit tenting trip, you’ll doubtless have to force the lighting and charge your phone and notebook.

As well, a bit generator hierarchal 1000 W or fewer can do. Major campers, with many instrumentalities that need a heavier power, would want a generator with a raised power rating around 1000W – 2000W. For instance how much watt some of these types of items consume in functioning:

  • Lights – 100W.
  • Laptop charger – 200W.
  • A Blender – 300W.
  • Coffee maker – 600W.

So, here your acquirable power in the range is 1000 – 2000 watts.

Recreational Generator Watt Requirement

Thanks to light-weight generators, campers, and RVers equally relish similar power edges to those that notice themselves joined to the grid; like for instance having the flexibility to use their cellular devices to stay touching friends and relations. they might use varied appliances for the room to organize dishes and to cool-down the place victimization and cooling.

Home Generator Watt Requirement

The quantity of power that you’ll need in your house depends upon the electrical devices and systems as put in. besides you wish to decide that appliances can undoubtedly be running at the same time just in case there’s an electrical outage.

This could facilitate you establish however huge is that the light-weight generator that you simply must get for the house emergency desires.

If you’re working with a pump motor to draw drink from a well for home create use of, and you’d even currently wish to figure it once the most grid ability fails, you then would force a sturdy generator that’s capable of cardiopulmonary exercise the pump together with different appliances.

A proper pump might require a lot over 3800W of potential for functioning. You, therefore, would like a generator hierarchical 5000W and on top of to utilize the pump motor and power different appliances in your house.

Other household devices that require quite a lot of power to function include:

  • A small chamber may take away 3000W of capacity.
  • A pressure washer hierarchal at 3600W.
  • Electric heaters hierarchal at 4500W and antecedently mentioned.
  • An electric dress drier hierarchal at 5400W.

Portable generators are found in several power scores, with common within the range of 3000 – 5000 watts. With this specific quantity of ability, you’ll all at once run many devices like for instance your AC, Television, and appliances for the room.

RV Generator Watt Requirement

A portable generator is purchased in handy once running up the assorted appliances among your motor-home. The devices among your self-propelled vehicle consume many more powers than those that you simply can discover with a traditional camper.

That’s thanks to the existence of industrial quality devices for example an air-con instrumentality, a fridge, together with different room appliances sort of a microwave, and an influence kettle.

The AC, that rates as a result of the best power taking in appliance typically in most RVs, will treat 2000W of ability however wants regarding 3000W to start-up. To change one of these devices you’ll require a portable generator rated at 3500 watts and above.

Job site Generator Watt Requirement

The construction-related site requires a lot of power. A median 10 inches saw, as an example, needs 4500W beginning power, and eventually stabilizes at 1800W running power. The power will increase as you increase the load. So, for the job site work, you’ll need an effective generator.

Final Verdict

Moreover, there are lots of advantages to a generator. You’re able to power appliances at home and on camping sites. We tend to can’t select the generator that’s best for you. However, hopefully, we’ve been able to provide you with many nice choices that will fit your desires.

The Best Coffee Makers Reviews (Automatic Drip)

The only thing worse than starting your day without a warm cup of coffee? Starting it with a bitter mouthful of burnt-tasting java. Ugh.

Some coffee makers seem to be a safe ticket to over-extraction land, but some others are guaranteed to provide you with a barista-worthy black coffee. So how do you avoid buying the first type? 

Don’t worry: to make things easier for you (and as a cheeky excuse to drink lots of coffee), we’ve tested many different brands and models to narrow your choice down to the 6 very best drip coffee makers on the market. 

OUR TOP PICK

Technivorm Moccamaster (10-Cup Drip Machine With Thermal Carafe)

Handmade in the Netherlands, this company’s iconic coffee makers are the teacher’s pets of the Specialty Coffee Association! 

This model, in particular, will provide you with the best coffee you’ve ever tasted thanks to its precise copper boiling element, while its high-quality stainless steel carafe will keep it piping hot without compromising the flavor.

Five Things to Consider Before Choosing a Coffee Maker

Whether they add sugar, milk, or enjoy it black, all true coffee lovers take their joe in the same way: seriously. If you’re like us, we recommend taking the time to consider a few things before buying your next home coffee maker, so that there won’t be any unwelcome surprises and you’ll be sure to meet all of your coffee needs.

SCA-certification

If you’re after the best of the best, just look for the SCA-certification. Not many drip machines meet the strict requirements set by the coffee science experts and professional tasters of the Specialty Coffee Association, so this prestigious award is a warranty in itself!

Carafe: glass or thermal?

This seemingly aesthetic-based choice can influence the final flavor of your coffee. Because glass carafes rely on a hot plate to keep it warm, your java is essentially being stewed and can end up developing a burnt taste due to over-extraction.

Thermal carafes, on the other hand, keep it piping hot for longer thanks to their stainless steel walls, without compromising its flavor. They’re also much more durable! The only instance in which we’d recommend a glass carafe is if you usually pour your freshly-brewed coffee immediately, want to save some money, and value elegance and design above everything else.

Serving size

Not only is it important to check the size of the carafe: think of how much coffee you usually enjoy.

If you only brew large pots for your entire household, then most coffee makers will do, but if you also want to be able to brew half a carafe, a travel cup, or a single-cup of coffee, then don’t forget to look for this specific feature, or else you’ll end up wasting lots of precious java.

Extra features

Do you just want to press a button and hear the coffee gush into a carafe? Then no point spending more money for a coffee maker that’s packed full of features! Do you enjoy waking up to a brewed pot? Want to be able to tweak the hot water temperature? Select a pre-infusion mode? In that case, compare the extra features of different coffee makers before rushing into buying the first one you like the look of.

Unit size

This might be the least of your concerns at the moment… until you buy the coolest automatic dripper only to realize that it doesn’t fit underneath the cupboards above your countertop. Ouch. If your kitchen is on the small side, check the size and, most importantly, the height of each product. To help everyone find their perfect coffee maker, we’ve included smaller compact models, too.

Best Drip Coffee Makers 2020 – Top 6 Reviews

From pre-infusion modes to built-in grinders, each of our picks has a unique feature or design element. Let’s start with an overview of all 6 drip brewers!

PRO TIP: If you’re a fan of strong espresso shots, frothy drinks, and smaller servings, you might want to check out the best espresso machines and single-serve coffee makers, too.

1. Technivorm Moccamaster 10-Cup Drip Machine With Thermal Carafe – Best of the Best

At the time of writing this article, only 28 drippers can flaunt the prestigious SCA certification. The fact that 12 of these are Technivorm Moccamaster models is a warranty in itself!

PROS

  • SCA-certified
  • Quiet, fast, and precise
  • Handmade in the Netherlands

CONS

  • Not programmable
  • A bit of an investment

The reason behind the coffee industry’s hype for these coffee makers goes beyond their iconic, immediately-recognizable design: they do make some damn fine coffee and are incredibly precise.

This is due to their signature copper boiling element in the easy-to-reach water reservoir: it ensures that the hot water temperature stays between 196 and 205º F, which is the recommended range for a perfect extraction.

While it’s very quick, it optimizes its brewing time to allow for a proper bloom within the 4-6 minutes that it takes to fill up the 40 oz thermal carafe. Thanks to the manual-adjust brew basket, you can let your coffee steep for longer or remove the carafe whilst it’s still brewing to enjoy your first cup of coffee.

Handmade in the Netherlands and declared the best automatic drip coffee maker by America’s Test Kitchen, this bad boy comes with a handy 5-year warranty.

Discover more about The Best Jura Coffee Machines: the Ultimate Guide and Reviews.

Bottom Line

The Technivorm Moccamaster is more than just a coffee maker: it’s a bold statement. A statement that makes the best drip coffee that you can dream of, of course.

2. OXO Brew 9-Cup Coffee Maker – Also Great

Are you after a simple and intuitive dripper that is programmable and will guarantee a top-notch cup of coffee? Say no more. 

PROS 

  • Programmable 
  • SCA-certified
  • Intuitive interface

CONS

  • Slightly smaller carafe than most drippers

This sturdy but sleek OXO model also meets the rigid standards of the Specialty Coffee Association. Not only does it maintain the correct temperature: thanks to the rainmaker showerhead and the microprocessor-controlled brewing cycles, it mimics manual pour-over methods to ensure a uniform extraction and full flavors.

If you don’t want to prepare a whole pot of coffee, you can simply select the number of cups thanks to the user-friendly LED interface and single dial, which also allows you to wake up to the smell of coffee (#MorningGoals) by programming it up to 24h in advance.

Does it take you a while to function, in the morning? Not a problem: the double-walled stainless steel carafe will keep your perfectly-brewed coffee nice and hot for hours, and this dripper even comes with a freshness counter.

Like the sound of it? Find How to Choose the Best Drip Coffee Makers – and What to Look for Before You Buy!

Bottom Line

Since it can wake up before you do and it’s so user-friendly, you and this Oxo brewer are guaranteed to get along.

3. Bonavita BV1900TS – The most straightforward

The fact that you’re not after many extra features doesn’t mean that you should compromise on the quality of your coffee! The Bonavita BV1900TS is a simple dripper that achieves outstanding results. 

PROS

  • SCA-certified
  • Pour over-style brew
  • Dishwasher-safe parts

CONS

  • Smaller carafe
  • Not customizable or programmable

Another SCA-certified coffee maker, this Bonavita model is guaranteed to meet the strict Golden Cup standards for a perfect brew. Thanks to the optional pre-infusion mode, its enhanced showerhead, and the flat-bottomed basket, it was designed to achieve the very best extraction in a uniform, manual-style way.

While it’s also available with a glass carafe, we recommend the double-walled stainless steel option, which will keep your coffee at the correct temperature for longer. 

With its auto-off feature and the one-touch brew operation, the Bonavita will be easy to operate even for the least tech-savvy coffee lovers.

Bottom Line

The Bonavita is a straightforward machine without bells and whistles that does exactly what it was built for: brew a perfect pot of coffee with the touch of a button! Simple as that.

4. Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker – Best Budget Pick

A lot of cheap drippers can be dodgy, but you can still enjoy a nice cup of black coffee on a budget… if you know where to look! Are you looking at Mr. Coffee? Then you’re safe.

PROS 

  • Budget-friendly but excellent value for money
  • Programmable and customizable
  • Small on the countertop

CONS

  • The glass carafe might compromise the flavor if left for too long

This Mr. Coffee model will take up minimal space on your countertop, but it will still stand out thanks to its curious design that combines the classic vintage look of diner-style drippers and modern elements such as its brushed chrome accents. 

Given its low price tag, we were surprised to discover so many practical features: from the strength selection to the 24h programmable options to the 2-hour shut off feature, this small brewer offers perks that not even some more expensive models can boast. It even includes the handy grab-a-cup auto-pause option, that stops the cycle to allow you a cup of coffee before the whole jug is brewed! Nice one, Mr. Coffee.

Bottom Line

If you don’t want your new dripper to be an investment but you are not planning on giving up on programmable and customizable features (why should you?), look no further.

5. Cuisinart DGB-800 – Best 12 cup dripper with grinder

Nothing can replace the taste and aroma of freshly-ground coffee! If you don’t own a grinder and are not planning on investing in one, we have a solution for you: how about a coffee maker with a built-in grinder?

PROS

  • Built-in grinder, but can also brew pre-ground beans
  • Programmable and customizable
  • Includes a permanent filter

CONS

  • Not as precise as more professional grinders

This Cuisinart model allows you to go from bean to cup within minutes. The sealed lid on the half-pound hopper is another guarantee of the freshness of your brew, and the burrs will provide a much more uniform result than blade grinders. 

This little dripper comes with lots of customizable options: want a regular, bold, or even an extra-bold brew, just like the best French press coffee? Less than 12 cups? A start in 24h? You’re in charge!

Whether you opt for its glass or thermal carafe, we’re sure you’ll appreciate its comfort-grip handle. As well as its gold-tone permanent coffee filter, we love the fact that it includes a charcoal water filter in its reservoir, perfect for removing impurities and ensuring an even cleaner extraction.

Bottom Line

Considering that it combines a burr grinder and a dripper, the Cuisinart DGB-800 is a fantastic option to enjoy freshly-ground coffee on a budget!

6. Cuisinart DCC-3200 14-Cup – The most programmable

Do you love waking up to the smell of coffee and, perhaps, the sound of your full carafe being ready? We’ve found your new alarm & coffee maker combo!

PROS

  • Programmable and with alarm when ready
  • It will tell you when it’s time to descale it 
  • Water filter and a permanent coffee filter, but can use paper if you prefer

CONS

  • No pre-infusion mode

This beautifully-designed Cuisinart dripper is available with a 12 or a 14-cup jug, perfect to meet even the greediest coffee drinkers’ needs. 

It features a smaller 1-4 cup setting, a handy brew-through lid, and the practical brew pause option. Thanks to the large showerhead, it guarantees an even extraction and, if you enjoy stronger brews, you can select the bold option. 

The feature that stands out the most, though, is its programmability: not only can you set it to brew a carafe up to 24h in advance, but you can also choose to have the alarm sound on.

Check out our review: Best Ninja Coffee Bars to Buy of 2020.

Bottom Line

We recommend this coffee maker to anyone who needs a very large pot of coffee before they are expected to function properly in the morning.

FAQs About Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

If you still have concerns or questions, here are some of the common ones we get.

Are drip coffee makers better than K-Cups?

Yes, drip coffee makers are much better than machines that rely on K-Cups.

This is because K-Cups and coffee capsules in general contain stale coffee, end up being more expensive in the long run, and, being made of unrecyclable plastic, have a terrible toll on the environment. Drip coffee makers, on the contrary, rely on fresh grounds and guarantee a fuller extraction.

Are expensive coffee makers worth it?

Expensive coffee makers are only worth it if you truly appreciate the flavor of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, and if you’re going to make the most of their extra features.

If you just want to drink coffee to stay awake and don’t care about the science behind extraction, then you’ll probably be just as happy with a more budget-friendly brewer.

However, if you’re a dedicated coffee aficionado and you’re after a barista-worthy brew, expensive high-quality coffee makers are worth it, and we’re sure you’ll be able to tell the difference.

Are drip brewers easy to clean?

Yep, drip coffee machines are incredibly easy to clean compared to other brewing methods. You just need to chuck the used grounds in the bin and rinse the removable components. Some coffee makers have dishwasher-safe parts, but make sure you double-check before adding them to your next load!

Once every few months, it’s important to descale them to help them last longer and ensure the best possible taste.

Buying a TV: 11 Tips You Should Know

Here’s a guide to which television features and specs are most important, and how to buy the right size TV for your expectations and budget.

Smart TV. LED. OLED. 4K. HDR. The world of TVs is looking better every day, but also more confusing. Today, there’s a ridiculously wide array of high-definition (HD) and 4K Ultra HD sets in stores, from bargain big screens to the high-end displays that distinguish the best TVs available.

We’re here with our TV buying guide to help you decide.

TV Buying Quick Tips

If you’re in a hurry, here are the most important things to consider before you buy a television. We explain each of these points in greater detail in the text below:

  • Don’t buy a TV with less than 4K resolution (i.e., avoid 1080p sets) if you want a future-proof set.
  • You can skip 8K TVs (for now): The next jump in resolution isn’t a must-have yet. 8K TVs are super expensive, and you can’t even get any 8K movies yet. It’ll be at least a year before 8K TVs are even something you should consider.
  • Expect to pay about $500 for a solid 50- to 55-inch bargain 4K TV and at least $900 for a 65-inch model.
  • Don’t buy a TV with less than a 120 Hz refresh rate.
  • Look for an HDR-compatible set, which offers more realistic colors and better contrast.
  • OLED TVs look much better than a typical LED LCD, but they are considerably more expensive. For a more affordable middle ground, check out quantum dot displays from Samsung, Vizio, and TCL.
  • Ignore contrast-ratio specs: manufacturers fudge the numbers. Trust your own eyes.
  • Look for at least four HDMI ports, and opt for the newer HDMI 2.1 format if you can.
  • Most TVs are “smart TVs” these days with easy access to Netflix and other online apps. Don’t be tricked into thinking this is a big deal.
  • Plan to buy a soundbar. TV speakers are worse nowadays because the screens are thinner.
  • Avoid extended warranties. Your credit card company may already provide purchase protection.

1. Screen Size: Finding the Sweet Spot

Whether you’re looking for a basic or high-performance TV, the biggest factor in your decision will probably be screen size. Consider how many people in your family typically watch at once and where you’re going to put your new set.

Then pick the largest screen size that will fit comfortably into that space and your budget. The sweet spot today, considering price, performance and the typical living room, is between 55 and 65 inches.

Screen size also depends on how close you sit to the TV. If you can see the individual pixels of the screen, you’re too close. A good rule of thumb is that you should sit at a distance from the TV that is three times more than the height of the screen for HD and just 1.5 times the screen height for 4K Ultra HD. In other words, you can sit twice as close to a 4K UHD TV.

Here’s a more in-depth guide to calculating the proper TV screen size based on the dimensions of your room, as well as the resolution of the TV.

If you have the opportunity, go to a store (and maybe bring your family) and look at the TVs. Even though 4K content is still rare, you may want that higher-resolution technology if you plan to sit close to a very large screen.

Bottom Line: Choose a screen size and resolution appropriate for the distance you will sit from the screen. We’d start at 55 inches unless you’re in a small apartment or dorm.

2. Screen Resolution: 8K, 4K or HD?

Resolution describes the number of pixels that make up the picture on a display, described in terms of horizontal rows and vertical columns. More pixels translate into the sharper picture and finer details, so higher resolution is (almost always) better.

For many years, the 1920 x 1080 resolution, also called full HD, has been the standard and is still the most common resolution in TVs across the globe. However, TV manufacturers are rapidly shifting to Ultra HD sets (also called 4K). These 4K models have four times the number of pixels as current HDTV screens. We’re talking 2,160 horizontal lines or 3840 x 2160 pixels.

LG Electronics OLED65C8P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV

The biggest benefit of 4K TVs is that small objects on the screen have more detail, including sharper text. Overall, images appear richer and more life-like than on an HDTV, but the benefits can be subtle. The sharper picture also has the added benefit of letting you comfortably view the screen from a shorter distance, making larger TVs more comfortable to view in a regular-sized home.

Ultra HD video looks great, and it’s getting easier to find. Several streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Video and even YouTube have started offering 4K content, making smart TVs and streaming sticks your best bet for easily finding 4K movies and shows.

While Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are becoming more common, they’re still less common than standard 1080p. Live TV hasn’t fully embraced 4K yet, but DirectTV, Dish Network and Comcast Xfinity have all started offering 4K movies. Although Ultra HD sets can upscale existing HD content, the results can be mixed and do not look as sharp as original 4K programming.

Samsung QN82Q900RBFXZA Flat Screen 82-Inch QLED 8K Q900 Series Ultra HD Smart TV with HDR

The first 8K TVs are just now coming to market, with Samsung’s Q900 8K TV arriving first, and now LG’s 88-inch Z9 OLED. These displays quadruple the resolution seen on 4K sets, offering a giant leap forward in picture quality, but finding content to fully take advantage of that higher resolution is extremely limited. It’ll be at least a year or two before 8K sets are recommended for anyone but the earliest of adopters, so we recommend sticking to 4K.

Bottom Line: Ultra HD resolution, also called 4K, is increasingly becoming the standard, and it’s a better choice if you want to future-proof your investment. Higher-resolution 8K TVs are coming to the market, but it’s not worth buying yet.

3. HDR: Get It If You Want the Most Colors

HDR is a new feature of 4K Ultra HD sets and it stands for high dynamic range, a reference to its ability to deliver more colors, more contrast levels, and increased brightness.

HDR is essentially an upgrade of the 4K, or Ultra HD, format (it does not apply to 1080p HD sets). For this new feature, TV makers are christening new monikers for the sets to distinguish them from standard 4K Ultra HD TVs.

The basic standard for high-dynamic-range content is called HDR10, as set forth by the UHD Alliance, an industry trade group. Dozens of companies are supporting this basic minimum specification for HDR compatibility, so you will see “HDR10” or “Ultra HD Premium” on a growing number of sets this year.

Dolby Vision is a more demanding version of HDR, created and licensed by the folks that brought us Dolby noise reduction and surround sound. In theory, a Dolby Vision set has to meet a stricter set of criteria to display HDR content, and our testing seems to bear this out. So far, Dolby Vision has led the industry in terms of proprietary HDR formats.

There continues to be some HDR confusion. Every HDR-enabled set on the market is currently HDR10-compatible, but Dolby Vision is only found on sets that both meet Dolby’s technical standards and pay licensing fees for the standard. Nonetheless, Dolby Vision has quickly become the industry standard for HDR content and can be found on premium models from most brands (including LG, Sony, TCL, and Vizio). 

Samsung has introduced its premium HDR format, called HDR10+, for all of its smart TVs. (Yes, Samsung’s naming makes things very confusing.) While the HDR10+ format offers a great viewing experience, it’s far less common than Dolby Vision, with HDR10+ content offered on Amazon Prime Video and a handful of UHD Blu-rays.

Even more troublesome, many UHD Blu-ray players don’t support HDR10+ at all, so your options are even more limited if you want to go all-in on Samsung’s proprietary HDR format. You’ll still be able to enjoy the more basic HDR10 format through any HDR-capable player or TV, but HDR10+

 Both Technicolor and IMAX have also brought their proprietary standards to the market, called Technicolor Advanced HDR and IMAX Enhanced, respectively. It’s still far too soon to know if either of these newer formats will have much impact on the market.

There’s not much HDR programming available, but it’s starting to look a bit better. There are a few dozen movies in the new 4K Blu-ray disc format, with a growing number of HDR shows available via streaming services, like Amazon Prime and Netflix.

Some new 4K Blu-ray players also promise to be upgradable to handle the new HDR discs but check before you buy. Finally, cable and satellite have their form of HDR, called Hybrid-Log Gamma (HLG), so you should start seeing HDR pop up now and then for movies and even live TV.

Bottom Line: Don’t choose a set just for its HDR support because the standard has not yet been settled. However, if you want the best, buy an HDR set that is compatible with Dolby Vision, as that format seems to be gaining momentum.

4. Refresh Rate: Faster is Better

The refresh rate, expressed in Hertz (Hz) describes how many times per second a picture is refreshed on the screen. The standard refresh rate is 60 times per second or 60 Hz. However, in scenes with rapidly moving objects, a 60 Hz refresh rate can make things look blurry or jittery, particularly on LCD HDTVs. So, to create a more solid picture, manufacturers doubled the refresh rate to 120 Hz (and in some cases up to 240 Hz).

Since there aren’t that many per-second images in original video content, TVs handle the faster refresh rates in different ways. One method is to simply insert black images between the original pictures, tricking the viewer’s eyes into seeing a less blurry, more solid picture.

Another technique is to generate and insert new images showing a state of movement in between the two adjacent pictures to display more realistic-looking motion. However, depending on how the video-processing is done, it can make a movie or sitcom look flat, or as if it were a poorly lit, old-time soap opera.

Some new models are boasting High-Frame Rate (HFR) support, which means that they have both a higher refresh rate and added support for content with higher than 60 Hz frame rates. With HFR content set to come from both movies and live broadcasts, HFR will be especially good for live sports it’s a feature to watch for in 2019.

 Gamers will be especially keen to get higher refresh rates, but if you’re using a gaming console, 60 Hz is the sweet spot. Most gaming consoles top out at 60 frames per second, and even the best 4K TVs for gaming offer the best performance well below the 120 Hz we suggest for other content.

A word of caution: beware of terms like “effective refresh rate,” which means the actual frame rate is half the stated rate (e.g., a “120 Hz effective refresh rate” is a 60 Hz refresh rate).

Bottom line: Gamers will get a lot from a 60Hz TV, but most TV shoppers shouldn’t buy a TV with less than a 120 Hz refresh rate.

5. HDMI and Connections: Go for More

It may seem like an afterthought, but pay attention to the number of HDMI inputs a set has. Manufacturers looking to shave costs may offer fewer HDMI plugs on the back. These ports can get used up quickly: Add a soundbar, a Roku or Chromecast, and a game console, and you’ve used three ports already.

If you have decided to take the plunge and get a 4K Ultra HD, make sure the set’s ports support HDMI 2.0 to accommodate future Ultra HD sources. Many TVs on the market have only one port that supports the 4K copy-protection scheme known as HDCP 2.2 (high-bandwidth digital content protection).

LG OLED65C9PUA Alexa Built-in C9 Series 65″ 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV

 The newer HDMI 2.1 format has started cropping up on TVs in 2019, and while the biggest benefits of the new standard will be seen in delivering 8K content, there are still plenty of goodies coming to 4K sets. The biggest improvement is the variable refresh rate (VRR) support, which introduces the same sort of frame rate matching seen in Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync technologies.

By matching the TV refresh rate to the frame rates of your content source – in this case, the graphics card inside your game console or PC – you’ll get smoother action and zero screen tearing. It also adds higher frame rates for 4K video and richer HDR data that will allow adjustments at the scene level for more-precise backlighting control. 

As of now, we’ve seen HDMI 2.1 capability popping up on LG’s 2019 TVs, such as the LG C9 OLED, which uses the faster standard for all four of its HDMI ports.

Bottom Line: Look for at least four HDMI ports, and opt for the newer HDMI 2.1 format if you can.

6. TV Types and Jargon Explained: LCD, LED LCD, OLED

Aside from projection sets, there are only two types of TVs on the market: LCD and OLED. Unless you have a lot of disposable income, you’ll probably be buying an LCD TV.

LED and LCD Sets

The lion’s share of televisions today are LED LCD. These HD and Ultra HD sets use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the LCD screen and can be extremely thin. Many of these TVs can dynamically light up specific portions of the screen and dim other parts to better represent a mix of light and dark areas in a scene a feature known as active dimming or local dimming. No-frills LED LCD sets can be had for as little as $200 for a 32-inch screen, while a top-of-the-line 90-inch model can go for $8,000.

Sony XBR65X900F 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

Most LCD sets use LEDs on the edge of the screen. The better of these models support active dimming, but it takes some digital sorcery to do this by merely manipulating lights along the edge.

Full-array LED sets to have light-emitting diodes directly behind the screen, in a grid of “zones” that can be lit up or darkened individually. Such an arrangement makes the backlight more precise and allows a more-detailed picture regarding contrast. Full-array backlighting was once reserved for top-tier models, but with more Ultra HD sets appearing at lower prices, this feature is becoming more common on modestly priced sets.

Another LCD technology, called quantum dots, is becoming more common, spurred on by the requirements of HDR to produce a wider array of colors and more brightness. An LCD that uses quantum dots has another layer or added “rail,” of different size nanocrystal dots that light up when the LED backlight hits them. The result is a wider color spectrum and increased brightness.

Be aware that some brands offer confusing labels. The biggest offender is the name “QLED”, featured prominently on Samsung’s premium sets and coming to TCL’s 2019 models this fall. These are quantum-dot LCD TVs with LED backlighting not to be mistaken for OLED.

Samsung Flat 65-Inch QLED 4K Q60 Series Ultra HD Smart TV

And while quantum dot displays still can’t match the true black levels of OLED, the gap is narrowing as manufacturers work to improve the technology. For an affordable middle ground between basic LCD and pricey OLED displays, quantum-dot enhancement is a smart way to go.

Pros: Wide array of prices, sizes, and features; Some affordable Ultra HD 4K models; Bright screens visible even in a sunny room; Image quality steadily improving with full-array backlighting and quantum-dot technology.

Cons: Exhibits imperfections when displaying rapid motion, as in sports; Loses some shadow detail because pixels can’t go completely black (even with full-array backlighting); Images fade when viewing from the side (off-axis).

OLED TVs

OLED TVs go one better than full-array LED-LCDs with a few dozen lighting zones. In place of a backlight, OLEDs use a layer of organic LEDs, controlled at the pixel level, to achieve absolute black and stunning levels of contrast. (Footage of fireworks against a black sky is a favorite demonstration of OLED technology.)

LG isn’t the only company actively pursuing OLED technology in large screen sizes, with Sony offering premium OLED sets as well. The best-in-class display technology is seen exclusively on 4K sets (and higher, with the introduction of LG’s 8K OLED), and range in size from 55 inches on up to 75 inches or larger. But OLED has also gotten much more affordable, with 55-inch models selling for less than $2,000, and 65-inch models selling in the $2,000-3,000 range.

Pros: Best TV picture, bar none; Colors truly pop, deeper blacks and better contrast and shadow detail than LCD TVs achieve; Retains image quality when viewed from the side.

Cons: Premium prices; lower peak brightness than some LCD sets, uncertainty about how screens will fare over time, including whether they will retain “ghost” images (also known as burn-in) from displaying a static picture for too long.

7. 8K Resolution: Hold Off

If you thought the jump to 4K resolution was amazing, you’ll be floored by 8K, which ratchets up the detail even further with 7680 x 4320 pixels. It’s amazing to see, and it’s the next big thing in consumer TVs. But it’s not worth spending your money on just yet.

TV manufacturers are betting big on 8K displays, and there’s no doubt that it’s the next big thing in TVs. But all that eye-popping detail is still missing an essential element: Content. There are no 8K movies available for purchase, and streaming in 4K is already more taxing than many people’s internet connection can handle.

So far, companies are hoping that fancy AI-powered upscaling will make everything look good enough to justify prices that far outstrip the cost of premium 4K sets. The 8K models on the market are several thousand dollars more than the top 4K models, like Samsung’s 85-inch Q900R QLED 8K TV, which has a MSRP of $14,999(US)/£14,999(UK), or LG’s 88-inch Z9 8K OLED, which sells for $29,999(US)/£29,999(UK).

Bottom Line: You can leave the pricey 8K TVs to the early adopters. Until the content is available, you’ll just wind up paying a lot of money for an upscaled 4K video.

8. Smart TVs: Most Already Are

An increasing number of sets come with built-in Wi-Fi for connecting Internet-based services like Netflix for streaming videos or to run apps for watching special-interest programs, downloading on-demand movies, playing games or even posting to Facebook. The latest models can even search for content across streaming services and live to program on cable and satellite.

The interfaces are generally getting better. Vizio, LG and now Samsung use a handy bar of icons at the bottom of the screen. Roku offers its famously intuitive interface in budget TVs from Hisense, TCL and other inexpensive brands.

Google provides its Android TV platform to companies such as Sony and Westinghouse, and Amazon has jumped into the mix with Amazon Fire Edition TVs from Toshiba and Insignia (Best Buy’s brand). While most smart TVs include the major services, such as Pandora, Hulu, and Netflix, check to make sure the TV you buy has the options you want. Our guides to common questions about smart TVs and comparison of smart TV platforms are good places to start.

 Streaming apps available on smart TVs are also one of the best ways to find and enjoy 4K and HDR content. With movies and shows offered by services from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube, it’s quick and easy to find both 4K resolution and HDR-enabled content easier than finding Blu-rays with the desired formats. The only concern is whether your internet connection can provide enough bandwidth.

 But not all smart TVs are created equal. Many budget-friendly brands will offer smart TV functionality without naming the actual platform that they use. In these cases, expect to run into limitations. Off-brand smart platforms frequently suffer from severely limited app selection, sub-par performance, and gaping security holes.

In the past, you could have bought a less expensive “dumb” TV and made it smart with a streaming device like the $50 Roku Streaming Stick. But nowadays, it’s hard to get a TV that isn’t smart, even if you’re going for a small bargain model. Find out more about the functions and features in our guide to smart TVs.

Bottom line: Smart capability is becoming a standard feature in TVs, so it’s less and less of a factor in your buying decision.

9. Contrast Ratio: Unreliable Numbers

The contrast ratio describes the range of brightness levels a set can display. Better contrast ratios display more subtle shadows and hues, and thus better detail. However, the way manufacturers measure such ratios varies widely. Indeed, the specification has been so thoroughly discredited that if a salesperson uses it as a selling point, you should shop somewhere else.

We use the same method for examining contrast ratios in all the TVs we test, so we can say roughly how well they compare to each other. Nevertheless, it’s still best to see for yourself how a TV displays shadow detail by finding a movie with dark scenes and seeing how well it reveals detail in the shadows of, say, a Harry Potter movie. Experiment with the TV’s brightness, sharpness, and other picture settings before making a final judgment. (Hint: select “movie” or “cinema” mode on the TV.)

 The best TVs will have deep, dark black levels while less expensive displays glow with a dark gray, even when they should be showing black. These grays are called “elevated black levels” and are a common problem on less premium LCD TVs.

Bottom line: You can ignore manufacturers’ contrast-ratio specs since they are not comparable across brands. Instead, look for deep black levels and minimal haloing around high contrast objects.

10. Audio: Get a Soundbar

Even the finest, most expensive HDTVs have an Achilles’ heel: poor sound. It’s a consequence of the svelte design of flat panels there’s not enough room for large speakers that produce full, rich sound. So, you have three choices: Use headphones (which can make you seem antisocial), buy a surround-sound system (which can be a hassle to set up and produces clutter) or get a soundbar.

Soundbars are popular because, for $300 or less, they can significantly improve the cinematic experience and yet be installed in minutes. Check out our top soundbar picks. Newer models are thin enough to fit under a TV stand without blocking the bottom of the picture. Most can also mount under a wall-hanging TV. Several companies also offer sound boxes or stands that can slide under a set.

Some TVs and soundbars also support Dolby Atmos, a newer audio standard from Dolby that includes overhead sound for a fuller listening experience. While you can get the Atmos effect using in-ceiling speakers, many soundbars have Atmos audio processing and upward-firing speakers built-in to create more realistic sounding audio that doesn’t require the multiple speaker placement that you’d have with 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound.

And don’t stress about additional cable clutter. Nearly all current TVs feature at least one HDMI port with Audio Return Channel (ARC) capability. This standard HDMI feature provides lets you use HDMI as both an input and an audio output, letting you not only send audio to the TV from your external media devices but also out to your soundbar. That ARC connection means that you get great sound for all your devices, with no special receiver needed.

Bottom Line: Movies and sports benefit from the addition of a soundbar.

11. Extended Warranties: Save Your Money

One of the biggest revenue generators for big-box electronics stores is the extended warranty. Why? Because they are so rarely needed, especially for a flat-panel LCD set. Most of the components in an HDTV are remarkably resilient; even the LEDs used to light the picture are virtually shockproof.

So, if you do get a lemon, it’s likely to be apparent immediately or at least within the first 30 days of ownership a period usually covered by a regular store-return policy. Beyond that, most manufacturers offer a one-year warranty. Credit card companies may offer additional automatic coverage on purchases, so check with your provider.

Bottom Line: Save your money and contact your credit card company to see if it has a price protection policy.

Pay the Right Price: Bargains are Out There

While you’ll always get the latest features and best capabilities by paying full price, a lot of shoppers are holding off because they think current TVs are too expensive. The reality is that TVs have not only never been better, they’ve also never been this affordable.

While premium models can easily run upwards of $2,000, there are plenty of great TVs complete with all of the 4K resolution, HDR support and smart features we recommend for much less. You can still get a solid bargain on a 50- to 55-inch TV for under $500, and 65-inch models can be found for under $1,000.

Even better, there’s almost always a great sale coming up, and if you’re willing to make some small concessions, you can save thousands of dollars when you buy your next TV.