When we put TVs through their paces, our focus is representing real world situations. We want to watch what you watch, not just what makes the TV look good.
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.
Our overall score combines test performance (how well the TV works) with predicted reliability (how likely models from the brand are to remain free of faults) and owner satisfaction (how likely owners of the brand are to be very satisfied).
We’ll only recommend TVs you’ll love to own, that work well and keep working well for a long time.
New TV technology gives us brighter, more saturated pictures all the time, as well as larger screens and higher refresh rates. 4K TVs are becoming the norm, retailing 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 implementing mandatory energy performance standards.
New TV ports are always replacing old ones as higher resolution content requires more data transfer at faster speeds. We report less on analogue connections as these are becoming obsolete.
For picture tests, our tester sets each TV’s colour as close as possible to the industry colour-balance standard that content creators use. Many TVs are set to a much cooler temperature in the factory because bluer pictures tend to look brighter and sharper, which looks better in a show room.
We estimate the annual energy consumption of each TV based on their power use while playing, and while on standby. Annual electricity costs can range from $25 for small, efficient screens to over $300 for 85-inch monsters, so it’s important to factor this in as an ongoing cost.
It’s reasonable to expect a new device to remain fault-free for the first five years. Our predicted reliability won’t tell you whether the TV will stop working tomorrow, but it does show which brands make models that are less likely to fail.
Satisfaction is important – a big purchase should never be a source of buyer regret. TVs with very satisfied owners are more likely to remain in service for a long time, rather than getting dumped when a new generation of TV comes along.