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Televisions can be the perfect complement to a living room, office or den — they provide a centerpiece for hours of entertainment alone or with family and friends.

However, there are several important things to consider before buying a television, ranging from the size of the screen to the desired resolution, and much more. While some of this all might sound like unnecessarily complicated technical jargon, these decisions will have a big impact on the enjoyment buyers get out of their devices.

Here’s a simplified guide to some of the key factors to bear in mind when purchasing a television, and each can have an impact on the budget for making a purchase.

Screen Size

It’s vital to pick a television with a screen size that’s suitable for the room where it’ll be placed. A smaller screen in a huge room will be almost impossible to watch, while a massive screen in a room with limited size will dominate the area. Reduced-size screens of 32 inches or less are ideal for placing on counters in bedrooms or kitchens, whereas screens of 65 inches or more are perfect for big media rooms. For the perfect compromise, a screen somewhere between 32 and 65 inches works well in most rooms.

Screen Display

Just as important as the screen size is the display type, and it can seem overwhelming with the amount of options on the market. The main types of televisions are liquid crystal display (LCD), light emitting diode (LED), and plasma. They all have their own benefits, so the choice when shopping comes down to personal preference and cost.

LCD televisions are often the cheapest, and as the name suggests the images are projected by lighting crystal displays. They’re lighter and thinner than traditional cathode ray tube televisions, and have good color quality and high energy efficiency.

LED televisions are in reality a variety of LCD televisions, and use the LEDs as an alternative method for back-lighting the crystals found in an LCD television. This can lead to a more energy-efficient unit with better picture quality, but higher cost.

Plasma is another variety of television screen display and is best suited for the large (65 inch or more) screens for big media rooms of living rooms where they’ll be used to show sports games and similar events. The plasma technology leads to outstanding picture quality visible from many angles, though this is often the most expensive option.

Aspect & Contrast Ratios

After deciding on the screen size and display type, give some thought to the aspect ratio and the contrast ratio — technical terms that will impact enjoyment of the television.

Aspect ratio refers to the ratio between a television’s height and its width, and while this does not have a direct impact on viewing quality it can impact viewing enjoyment. For example, many movies are filmed in wide-screen, and if the television will be used primarily to watch movies, an aspect ratio of more width to height is preferable.

Contrast ratio, meanwhile, is the ratio between the brightest image that a television can project and the darkest image. This is important for viewing quality, because a low contrast ratio can dull some colors. As a general rule the higher the contrast ratio, the better the image and the more “true” the colors on screen will appear.

Balance The Factors

When buying a television, consider all of the above factors to help make the right choice for the best type of television that also fits the available budget.

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