Our new test places more focus on picture scores, which really are the most important feature for a TV.
When we put TVs through their paces, our focus is getting as close as we can to real world experiences. We want to watch what you watch, not just what makes the TV look good.
Every year we buy and test as many TVs as we can fit in our lab - in 2014 we reported on more than 50 models. Due to their size the lab can only test them in batches of 10 to 15 at a time. The tests for each batch take about 3 weeks. This means our lab will be testing TVs for the rest of the year and we’ll update our test results database as the results become available.
Choosing what to test
Every year, from March to June, manufacturers generally release more models than we can possibly test. We liaise with manufacturers to find out what will be released and plan our testing based on that information, along with market information on what sold well the previous year.
How we test
New TV technology is giving us brighter, more saturated pictures and bigger screen sizes. UHD TVs (also called 4K) and TVs with higher refresh rates are entering the market in larger numbers and at lower prices.
Our testing is a comparison of the relative merits of each TV against the others in the test. We use reference TVs to check our scoring is consistent and ensure each batch is compared to a known quality level.
Our technical staff have 30 years of testing televisions between them. They’ve seen the progression from bulky cathode ray tube TVs, to plasma sets, on to LCD and now OLEDs. In that time, they’ve sat on standards committees to ensure the TV you buy is safe and have had an influence in getting MEPS (mandatory energy performance standards) implemented, so TVs now use significantly less energy.
First we gather technical information about the TV including its weight, measuring the available screen area, connections (such as WiFi and bluetooth) and any other materials supplied with the TV, such as 3D glasses and cables.
New TV connections are always replacing old ones. For example, with USB inputs, we now report the number of USB2 and USB3 inputs a TV has. These transfer information much faster than the older USB inputs and are becoming more important as higher resolution content requires larger data transfer sizes and speeds. Similarly, we report less on analogue connections as these are becoming obsolete.
Each TV is given time to warm up, then our tester sets the TV to get its colour as close as possible to the industry colour-balance standard (D65). We do this because we know TV and movie producers generally use this standard when creating their content. However, many TVs are set to a much cooler temperature in the factory because bluer pictures tend to look brighter, sharper and more contrasted, which looks better in a show room.