The 5 Best 40 Inch LED Televisions
5. LG Electronics Smart 43LJ5500
- virtual surround sound
- stand does not swivel
- limited input options
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
4. TCL 40D100
- digital tuner built-in
- no smart functions
- just one usb port
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
3. Sony KD43X720E Ultra
- very slim profile
- android operating system
- 4k upscaling engine
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
2. Samsung 4K UN40MU7000
- 120hz effective refresh rate
- hdr increases dynamic range
- upscales without blurring
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
1. TCL 43-Inch 4K 43S405
- three hdmi inputs
- easy to control from a smartphone
- hdr-compatible for improved images
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
LED TVs Are All In How You Look At Them
I remember the first big screen TV I ever encountered. It belonged to my uncle in the days when big screen TVs took up half the room like computers in the 1950s. What I remember most about it was that it had an atrocious viewing angle, meaning that if you tried to watch it from too far to either side of the room it suddenly looked like there was a grey bed sheet between you and the picture.
Modern LED televisions, on the other hand, have tremendous viewing angles, mainly because it's no longer a matter of projecting light from a single source against a much larger piece of glass or other intermediary. Instead, modern LED TVs project light locally, right below the surface of the screen.
Before we get into that, though, we need to tackle something about the term LED. LED TVs are actually Liquid Crystal Display (or LCD) TVs that are either backlit or edge-lit by Light Emitting Diodes. The light comes from the LEDs shining at brightness levels determined by the data of the incoming picture and by the flexibility of a given TV's diodes. That light pumps through the color LCD screen to give you your image.
The only break from this more or less standard design schematic is the curved LED TV. You see, light travels in straight lines (most of the time), but our eyes receive light along their natural curve. There's then some physical interpretation in the eye, and a lot more going on in the brain to flatten out our image of the world.
A curved television, viewed from a proper distance, sends its light information toward your eye at angles complementary to its shape. Some viewers claim that this improves the image, while others can't see a difference. What is undeniable, though, is that it does mildly cut down on the strain that all that data correction puts out your eyes and your brain, so you'll experience less fatigue while binging through six seasons of your new favorite show.
A Few Things Left To Consider
You've narrowed down your television search to the 40-inch class, so you've probably got a handle on the concept of viewing distance, as well as the fact that inch classification is just a classification and not an exact measurement. At this point, it may seem like the differences among your options is menial at best. But there are still a few specific things that could make your choice a heroic one or a tragic one.
Let's start out by discussing inputs. Unless you want to spend the extra money and space on an HDMI splitter, you'll want to make sure that the TV you're thinking about has enough inputs to support all of your devices. That's a cable box, a streaming box, a gaming system, a DVD player, and more. If you've only got two or three HDMI inputs, you're liable to get frustrated rather quickly.
There's also the big debate between 1080HD and 4K, but that debate will rage on for only another year or two at most. 4K is coming, and 1080HD will go the way of 720HD. What's 720, you ask? Exactly.
Finally, there's our good friend the refresh rate. If you've ever noticed strange artifacts or inexplicable motion blur in your digital content that suddenly seem to disappear and then reappear a few seconds later in new and annoying ways, you likely need a TV with a greater refresh rate. The problem is, refresh rate hasn't a standardized measurement. Sure, they're all listed with a reference to hertz, but any time you see a refresh rate with a fancy name like Motionflow or a modifier like "effective," know that the number is inflated, usually by about 100%.
The Television By Any Other Name
The boob tube. The idiot box. The brain drain. The decline of Western civilization. Whatever you call the TV today, it has endured an enormous amount of criticism through the ages, not just for the content it presented, but for its effect on the humans watching it.
Sometimes, when I was a teenager, I'd walk the streets of my home town, gathering my thoughts about life and love. It was great, free therapy. Every once and a while, I'd walk by someone's house and see through large and open windows a slack, thoughtless face illuminated only by the glow of the television. There was a vacancy to their eyes that always scared me, though not enough to stop watching TV myself.
When the first TVs came out, they were a ridiculous luxury item, and there was very little programming to enjoy. It wasn't until the 60s that the units became much more popular in the average person's home, and that popularity peaked in coincidence with the airing of footage from the Vietnam war in ways that would forever change both our perception of battle and the press's coverage of it.
The vacuum tube technology of these older TVs stuck around well into the 1990s, when advancements in LED technology brought about the thinner flat screen TVs that seem now like they've always been with us.
For now, display resolution seems to be increasing at a faster rate than the screen technology itself, with promises of flexible, paper-thin screens on the distant horizon.