The Xbox One X is set to be released on 7th November with 4K Gaming and HDR at the top of its many selling points. Even though Microsoft claim that the new Xbox will still look great on a 1080p TV, the raw power of this new machine makes it the most powerful console ever made and to fully take advantage of its full capabilities, you are going to need a 4K TV. With that in mind buying the right 4K TV can seem a little daunting to some so I have put a few basic buying tips together that I believe is essential when looking at purchasing a 4K TV to go with this monster of a console, I will also give you some advice with my opinion on what should be the key things to consider when jumping on board the Ultra High Definition train and I explain a little about what these features mean.
Resolution: When looking at buying a new 4K TV the first thing you need to know is the resolution of 4K which comes in at a whopping 3840 x 2160 pixels which is 4 times the resolution of a full HD TV and this is what you should be looking for when eying up a new set. The Xbox One X will still look superb on a 1080p screen but to take full advantage of the new consoles capabilities, you will need a TV that will be able to hit this 4K resolution and have HDR too.
What is HDR: Known as High Dynamic Range or HDR for short and what it means is it can produce far better more precise contrast, a greater brightness level and a much wider colour palette. It’s about making your games look more natural and realistic. Some 1080p TV’s are capable of HDR but it’s at its best when combined with 4K resolution and it looks absolutely fantastic in full flow.
Branding: There are many forms of branding with 4K TV’s and I’m not talking about Manufacturing brands, I’m talking about the branding of 4K capabilities. It can become confusing with all the terminologies used but the main tags you need to look for will say either 4K, UHD or both together. The next one you need to look at is the Premium tag attached to those. The difference between having Premium branding or not is the brightness levels that the TV can reach to hit true HDR and that it can hit the resolution of 3840 x 2160. Not having this Premium branding doesn’t mean that the TV’s don’t have HDR though but keep in mind that on cheaper TV’s it may not be true HDR or it’ll be a very toned down version. So if you want 4K with true HDR then you need to look at the Premium branding or the manufacturers equivalent. For a TV to be eligible to be classed as Premium it must hit the resolution of 3840 x 2160 and it’s brightness and colour must meet imaging standards that make it certified. Do some research on this or ask a member of staff in the store of where you’re looking.
OLED vs LED: We are currently seeing OLED screens become more widely available on the market at a more reasonable price but they are still considerably more expensive than LED screens. The difference between the two is quite a substantial one as OLED screens are made up of very tiny individual pixel lights behind the screen that recreate the deepest most accurate blacks you will see on a TV and a slightly more refined image compared to an LED where the lighting is projected from the edges of the screen, which can cause blacks to look very slightly washed out in some areas. The downside to OLED compared to LED is that most OLED screens don’t quite hit brightness levels of an LED screen, so they lack the full punch that HDR delivers tremendously on edge lit displays. There are pros and cons to both of these and you have to weigh up your options based on your requirements and most importantly budget. As long as you get a Premium set then either OLED or LED with these standards will look stunning.
Screen Size: My advice in this area is based on personal opinion only and will differ to your own, but to fully enjoy 4K HDR content you need a screen size of at least 50″ on your TV and an average viewing distance of around 6ft – 8ft depending on what screen size you choose. This will also depend on your budget and room size too, but anything below that size will still look great but may not show the resolution and its clarity to its full potential.
Input Lag: This is the response time it takes for the button presses from your controller to transmit to the action on screen and will be a feature looked for mostly by competitive online gamers. For the casual gamer this won’t make a huge amount of difference, and wouldn’t be something to look for, but just for reference I would aim for response times that are anything around the 25ms or under mark for serious competitive gaming or look for anything around 50ms or less for casual gamers. It isn’t a deal breaker when buying a 4K TV unless you are the very competitive type but the lower these response times the better.
Price: This is a big factor when buying a new TV in general, not just a 4K one so you have to look at different options based on the amount you have to spend. The panel quality is what you need to look for within your pricing range and it has to be noted that a 4K TV priced below £999 at full RRP will most likely have an 8 bit panel and TV’s priced at £1,000 plus at full RRP will have a 10 bit panel. This is a big factor as 10 bit panels will process 4K and HDR to a higher quality that an 8 bit panel would because of the processing involved and will produce a higher quality picture. It is also worth noting that a 10 bit panel will be able to cope with updated HDR versions through firmware updates whereas 8 bit panels may not be compatible with newer versions that are released in the future.
Future Proofing: it’s important that when looking at buying a new TV that you get one that is firmware upgradable as this will allow for your TV to receive updates to its technology. With HDR+, the next version of HDR starting to become prominent, it’s important that you get a TV that was released in 2016 at the earliest as most mid to top range 2016 and 2017 TV’s with at least a 10 bit panel will have the capabilities to be updated to HDR 10+ via a firmware update, but some later 2017 TV’s will have this already equipped straight off the shelf.
Buying a new 4K TV is going to come down to budget, room space and personal preference. If you have an unlimited budget then you may want to consider a top end OLED screen but be mindful that while it’s defined black levels will be unmatched it may lack the brightness levels needed to run HDR to its full potential. In my opinion OLED is still quite early in its cycle and it isn’t perfect, but I definitely see OLED being the future necessity 4 or 5 years down the line when looking at buying a new TV so it may be something to consider in a few years when looking to upgrade your TV again by which time OLED technology will have been more refined. Edge lit displays will always have lesser quality blacks compared to OLED but still perform brilliantly and still have lovely deep blacks depending on what budget you have and the quality of the panel that you purchase.
Here I will list my preferences based on an average budget. This is my personal opinion only but I hope it will give you some kind of idea of what to look for. I’m not going to recommend a manufacturer as everyone has their own preference but I will list the things you need to look for and consider to make sure you get a great 4K TV that will see you through the next 3-4 years at least.
Branding: 4K UHD Premium TV (can hit certified levels and imaging standard of brightness and colour while being able to perform at the resolution of 3840 x 2160)
HDR 10 or equivalent compatible as a minimum
Size: 55″ to 65″
Panel: I would recommend a 10 bit panel as a minimum, but depending on your budget an 8 bit panel will still perform well, but to get the most out of UHD resolution and HDR a 10 bit panel would be a considerably better performer.
Future Proof: Firmware Upgradable for Tech and performance updates.
At least 3 HDMI Ports that all support 2160p but 4 would be an advantage.
Backlight Type: Choosing between OLED or LED will come down to budget and preference between slightly deeper blacks or a much brighter backlight so it’s personal preference, but my opinion is that the increased brightness of an edge lit display needed to fully enjoy HDR and the massive price difference is more of an advantage over OLED but that is only my opinion, but I believe that in 4+ years OLED will be the standard in TV’s because its potential is absolutely fantastic, it’s just not fully refined yet and has a hefty price attached to it currently.
Input Lag/Response Time: For serious competitive online multiplayer you need to aim for 25ms or under. For casual players, anything under 50ms will be sufficient.
As long as you have these recommended specifications in mind and match them to the budget you have to spend when shopping for a new 4K TV then I have no doubt that you will walk away with a fully equipped beast that will handle the Xbox One X with ease. Don’t forget if you choose to stick with your 1080p TV, the Xbox One X will scale down from 4K to 1080p so you will still get to benefit some extra details even on a regular HD TV.
If you are looking at buying a new TV and want to ask any more questions or need some more advice get in touch with me via Twitter @_DEELZ_ and I’ll do my best to help if I can.