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Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Pick a spot and a time of day, you say?

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Pick a spot and a time of day, you say?

Taking viewing habits and lighting conditions into account when choosing a new TV can help avoid an expensive mistake. Here’s why.
Where a modern TV is placed, as well as the general lighting conditions of the room it’s placed in, directly affect display quality and can make the viewing experience much more – or much less – enjoyable for consumers. (Image: Sony)

While choosing between an LED/LCD, an OLED or a QD-OLED model is obviously an important step in the TV-purchasing process,  it’s just as important to take into account these two things: the spot where this TV will be placed and the hours of the day during which it will mostly be used. Yes, all TVs will work placed anywhere and all of them will happily display any content asked of them no matter what the hour. But they will not all do equally well in all situations, so here’s what consumers need to know about TV placement and lighting conditions.

Careful TV placement: the difference between screen glare and a clear picture

The spot where a new TV will be placed – be it on a wall or on furniture, it makes no difference – will determine whether its owner will have two problems to solve: screen glare and reflections (either on large or specific parts of the screen). All modern televisions, without exception, reflect light to a greater or lesser degree. Such is the nature of glass that covers their screens. But (a) many TVs handle screen glare and/or reflections much better than others and (b) there are a few things consumers can do that actually help in most situations.

The most important among the things consumers can do is pick a spot for their new TV that’s not directly facing light sources – especially intense ones such as e.g. bright light bulbs, since they will surely be reflected on the screen (and the displayed content) in a quite distracting manner. Natural light is more evenly dispersed in a room but it can still be the cause of screen glare during daytime. It also makes the picture of many TVs seem dim and washed out even if not directly facing the screen (e.g. sunlight coming from side windows).

This setup as portrayed here – it’s a 3D render – would only work without problems with quality LED/LCD TVs and not OLED/QD-OLED TVs. The former can get bright enough so as to not lose contrast in so much natural light, the latter cannot. (Image: LG)

If the spot where a new TV will be placed cannot be easily chosen  – there are only so many places televisions can be put in most people’s houses, after all  – then it’s important to make sure that there’s at least some way of reducing the intensity of light sources or blocking them altogether. On/off switches, dimmers, blinders, drapes or heavy curtains can all help, depending on the level of light control needed. As a reminder, LED/LCD TVs work in bright environments better than OLED TVs or QD-OLED TVs do. This happens not just because their screens are usually brighter, but because they generally cope with ambient light in a more effective way.

There are certain TV models that incorporate anti-glare filters and succeed in keeping screen glare to a minimum. If there are only a couple of spots a new TV can be placed in a house and there’s no easy way to block light sources surrounding it, it’s worth seeking these models out. Samsung, for instance, seems to be doing a better job than other manufacturers in that department during the last few years as several of its QLED TV models manage to offer an almost glare-free picture even in overly bright rooms.

Lighting conditions: the difference between enjoying a TV and putting up with it

Screen glare and reflections consumers can try to mitigate in different ways, but the general lighting conditions of the environment a modern TV will be working in – often having to do with the hours of the day people are using it – are equally important.

A television, for instance, placed in a bright living room and displaying over-the-air TV programming for many hours daily should probably be an LED/LCD for a variety of reasons. A television, on the other hand, placed e.g. in a low-lit bedroom for watching a film or a few TV episodes on it at night would ideally be an OLED/QD-OLED model for many reasons too. It’s not just that glare and reflections are annoying: the wrong lighting conditions affect the perceived brightness and contrast of the image displayed, so they have an impact on picture quality as a whole.

There is a reason why this image is 3D-rendered and not photographed: an OLED TV such as this one would never be able to maintain its black levels in such a bright environment as portrayed here. (Image: LG)

Would an OLED TV in the first example or an LED/LCD TV in the second one be unwatchable? No, but they would not be playing to each display technology’s strengths, while their respective weaknesses would be easily exposed. An OLED TV working all day long in the living room would often look dim, its deep blacks or natural, cinematic colors would be unappreciated, while the risk of burn-in would be high. The LED/LCD working in the bedroom in low light would not be able to hide typical problems of this tech, such as “haloing” around bright objects or blacks that look like deep grays.

So, recapping, here’s some practical advice on the correct placement of a modern TV in any space and the lighting conditions for said space that will help avoid glare and reflections:

  • Avoid placing any TV set directly opposite any light source, be it natural or artificial, regardless of the display tech used
  • If placing a TV set directly opposite a light source cannot be helped, make sure that there’s an effective way of controlling that source when necessary
  • If there’s no way of choosing a spot that’s unaffected by light sources and no way to control troublesome ones, then look for specific TV models whose screens sport anti-glare coating
  • If you are planning on mainly using a TV for many hours a day in a bright room, consider going for an LED/LCD model instead of an OLED/QD-OLED one
  • For evening-time or night-time watching in living rooms or bedrooms OLED TVs/QD-OLED TVs are the best option (controlling light sources directly opposite the screen still applies)

OLED/QD-OLED TVs work wonders in spaces where lighting conditions can be perfectly controlled – something movie and TV show lovers should keep in mind when picking up a new TV set. (Image: Sony)

Any amount of money spent on a modern TV is spent unwisely if it’s not actually buying into the specific advantages each TV model offers. At the same time, before settling on a new 2022 LED/LCD TV or an OLED TV/QD-OLED TV to get the kind of picture they want, consumers should take a minute to consider the kind of picture they can have, based on the new TV’s placement and general viewing conditions it will be working under.

It may only take a minute to think these things through, but that minute might be worth thousands of dollars  down the line – not to mention hundreds of hours of avoided frustration. Why risk being unpleasantly surprised when all it takes to avoid it is to be adequately prepared?

This article is included in our ten-part 2022 TV Buying Guide. Here is a list of them in full:

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Which display tech to go for?
There may be only three available options but it’s still complicated. Here’s some help.

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Pick a spot and a time of day, you say?
Taking viewing habits and lighting conditions into account can help avoid an expensive mistake. Here’s how.

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: How big, how far?
Viewing distance and ideal screen size go hand in hand, here’s how they should be matched for maximum effect

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Stay at 4K or go 8K?
The extra millions of pixels may or may not be worth the extra money, here’s how to decide

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Here’s what to look for, sports fans
Not all TVs can display sports content in the same clear, smooth manner – here’s what makes all the difference

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Here’s what to look for, movie fans
What the experts call “a cinematic picture” is defined in specific ways, here’s the full rundown

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Here’s what to look for, gamers
All TVs can display video games just fine, but gaming TVs do modern titles justice by offering these specific features

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: Which Smart TV platform to choose?
Four main options and a number of differences between them, here’s what’s worth keeping in mind

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: All the extras that matter
Modern televisions feature various supplementary functions these days, here are the most helpful ones

Choose the Perfect TV 2022: So, you just got it! Now what?
A few things to do right away, a couple of things to consider doing at some point down the line

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