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TV & Home Cinema

Screen basics

LED TV screens are made up of pixels. Think of them as very tiny dots of ink. These dots of different colours are what make up a picture – the more dots there are, the more detail or ‘resolution’ the picture has.

The vast majority of new TVs with screen sizes over 40 inches carry a 4K resolution. This means that the screen is made up of 3840x2160 pixels, nearly 4K across and a total of c. 8.3 million. Compare this with high definition (less than 850,000 pixels in total) and Full HD (c. 2 million), and it's easy to see what the fuss is about. We are now seeing 8K screens coming onto the market, some at surprisingly reasonable prices, and these have double the number of pixels across than 4K TVs, with nearly 34 million in total.

These are exciting times for TV technology, but what does this mean for viewers? It means that your TV will have previously unimaginably bright and vivid displays with super clear, pin-sharp images and eye-popping colours.

Some manufacturers use lighting to illuminate pixels from behind, while others will light them from the side. Many manufacturers also have their own unique technology to offer improvements in viewing angles, colour accuracy and shadow detail too, for example. TVs have never looked so good.

You may see terms like ‘UHD’, ‘Ultra HD’, ‘4K UHD’ floating around. These can vary between different manufacturers and, while there are some small technical differences, they essentially all mean Ultra High Definition, or 4K.

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What about OLED?

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OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is a new TV display technology that's capable of incredibly realistic picture quality with very little compromise.

So how does it work, and why is it so good? In contrast to the traditional LED panels we mentioned above, OLED screens use a thin film of an organic compound that lights up when electricity passes through it. This means the brightness of every single dot on the screen is controlled independently, so a completely black pixel can be right beside a fully white one, giving punchy dramatic colours with far higher contrast than the always-on backlights found in LED sets.

It also offers far wider viewing angles and quicker response times than LED, so everyone can enjoy blur free images. In this respect, OLEDs are more like older plasma screens, only much slimmer and much more power efficient.

See our full range of OLED TVs

HDR explained

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. 'Dynamic Range' describes the extremes of a TV’s contrast (the difference between how dark and bright the picture can get) and the detail within that range. In the past, even though a TV screen may have been able to get very bright or very dim, there was still a limit on how much colour and detail it could display, and formats like DVDs and broadcast television had to work within these limitations.

HDR technology allows these old limitations to be bypassed, offering an expansive new world of dazzling colours and rich, deep shadows, closer to the cinema than previously possible. Working in tandem with 4K resolution (which you can learn more about here), a TV compatible with HDR is able to 'translate' an HDR source, like an Ultra HD Blu-Ray disc or 4K content from Netflix and turn it into an even more beautiful picture that is a feast for the eyes.

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What makes a Smart TV?

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Smart TVs allow you to access catch-up and streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix, and with built-in web browsers and apps, you can enjoy the best of the internet from the comfort of your sofa. You can also easily send content from your phone or tablet to your TV, ideal for meetings or long-distance catch-ups with family and friends.

Many manufacturers now offer voice control / activation in their televisions, allowing you to control all sorts of actions using nothing but your voice. Smart TVs can also be integrated as part of Smart home system, which unlocks all kinds of potential uses.

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Have you considered a projector?

It’s a common misconception that projectors don't have a picture quality to match a television, and the only advantage you're getting is a massive screen size, but this simply isn't the case. Newer projector models can achieve astounding 4K picture quality that gives the cinema a real run for its money.

When you couple that with the fact it can produce a much larger image size than a TV at the same price, sometimes it can really be the superior choice. Even if you have a smaller space, you can still get the benefits of a projector by opting for a “short throw” design. These projectors sit closer to your screen or surface and don’t need the distance of a traditional projector.

You can get a taste of the experience yourself in our demonstration rooms, which all have projectors set up and ready to blow you away. We'll also be able to show you home cinema systems that give sound to match the picture for a rip-roaring performance that brings TV shows, games and movies to life.

Have a look at our projectors

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Why do I need an AV receiver?

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An AV receiver is not just an amplifier, it's actually more of a home cinema hub. It connects to your TV, your speakers and your sources (Blu-ray player, set-top box, games consoles etc.), and makes sure the right picture is displayed on the TV and the right sound comes out of the speakers. In addition to making sure you get incredible surround sound, most AV receivers will improve picture quality too.

The networking and streaming capabilities found on many receivers mean you can access internet radio, play music wirelessly from your phone and more. It may well be that your TV or Blu-ray player has this functionality too, but these are optimised for video and photos, not for tip-top sound quality. What's really great is being able to control these functions intuitively from your smartphone or tablet.

Even though the technology is complex, AV receivers are actually really easy to use. Setting them up can take a bit of time, but thankfully it's mostly automated, with guides that take you through the process step by step. For the ultimate piece of mind, we can take care of installation for you and walk you through how it all works once it's primed and ready to go.

See our full range of AV receivers

5.1 and beyond - surround sound explained

5.1 systems feature six speakers dotted around the room, surrounding you with sound, for cinema action that leaps out at you. Surround left and right speakers provide ambient atmosphere and 'it’s behind you' sounds; front left and right speakers provide a clear stereo soundstage for action, and a centre speaker, mounted directly above or below your TV, is there to make sure dialogue is clearly audible and feels like it’s coming straight from the talking heads on-screen. The extra .1 in the mix? The subwoofer – ideal at producing the heavy bass noises smaller speakers can’t.

So what’s 7.1?
This system adds two extra rear speakers for more accurate and subtle positioning of effects. Alternatively, you can place the additional speakers high up above your front speakers or further apart either side, known as 'height' or 'wide' front speakers. The idea of these is to make your room sound like a much bigger space than it actually is, that is to say, more like a cinema!

When amps start going up to 9.1 or 11.1, this means using height and / or width speakers, as well as the extra rears for the ultimate in immersion. Whenever you see a .2 this means more subs are getting involved, giving a massive boost to bass - perfect for fans of big explosions. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X take surround sound to the next level – speakers are positioned both around and above the listener to truly transport them to the heart of the action.

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What are TV soundbars?

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Traditional 5.1 and 7.1 multi-channel speaker systems remain the popular choices if you’re looking for a great surround sound experience, but if you want to avoid the complexity, cost or space implications of a full surround system, there are alternatives in the form of soundbars.

The more subtle soundbar tucks away in front of or or underneath your TV and has much higher quality and more powerful speakers than you'll find inside any modern TV. This allows for a much more immersive and engaging sound, especially when a subwoofer is included to take care of deep bass sounds. Sound bases are designed in a similar way, but are large enough to sit your TV on. This allows them to have a much bigger speaker built in, often not needing the subwoofer. Neither sounds quite as impressive as a full home cinema amp and speakers set-up, but they are both serious alternatives if you’re limited for space.

If the earlier mention of Dolby Atmos has you excited, you’re in luck! We stock a wide array of soundbars that are able to mimic the experience of Dolby Atmos, using integrated custom-designed speakers to bounce sound off the ceiling to create Atmos’ signature sense of height and depth.

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