Recreate the experience of watching a live sporting event at home.
Sports are warming back up on television — you might have already started watching the PGA and, soon, the US Open and NFL. In light of COVID-19, many of our favorite sports are now being played without spectators in the stands. As a result, sports fans are relying on their home entertainment systems now more than ever to stay connected with the teams they love most.
So what is the best TV for sports?
Simply put: It’s the one that makes you happy. But, there are also technical considerations that can help amplify your viewing experience and fuel that feeling of joy. Here are some of them.
Much of the excitement of the game comes from the action — and the refresh rate is part of what makes that on-screen action look fluid. That’s especially important when watching big plays, like in 2019, when Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore’s juke left Marcus Peters behind for a touchdown. Refresh rate is the number of frames your TV shows you per second. For example, a 60Hz refresh rate displays 60 frames per second. Sounds fast, right? Well, there are actually TVs that are twice as fast — think 120Hz or more. The visual effect that occurs with high refresh rates is often called “the soap opera effect.” That’s because the movement has an almost hyper-realism to it. At Definitive, we always let you explore the TVs features before you buy it so you can decide what enhances your personal watching experience.
It’s also important to note that your refresh rate can be limited by your source’s output. If you have a 120Hz TV, for example, and you’re watching a football game on cable, you’re likely watching it at 60Hz.
You want your team colors to pop on the screen. High contrast is also important, especially during nighttime events. You’ll find rich color and contrast in Samsung’s QLED TVs and Sony’s Full Array LED TVs. The term “LED” stands for “light-emitting diode.” The “Q” stands for quantum dot, which allows screens to create more saturated color. Samsung boasts that its QLED televisions can produce 100 percent color volume in the DCI-P3 color space, the format for most cinema screens and HDR movies for television.
Quantum dots belong to Samsung so Sony has its own technology — organic-light emitting diode (OLED). It offers millions of self-illuminating pixels, individually controlled on an OLED screen. As a result, the variance between light and dark is greatly enhanced. Sony’s OLED TVs also offer local dimming, which delivers more realistic brightness, more accurate shadow detail and deeper blacks than standard LED TVs. OLED TVs display far greater natural contrast and gradations than comparable QLED/LED counterparts. OLED TVs also benefit from a near 180-degree viewing angle, due to the nature of per-pixel technology. QLED/LED TVs are brighter and more vibrant when they’re directly on their center axis.
Why would one get a QLED instead of an OLED, if OLED has so many advantages? The answer is simple: brightness capability. A QLED/LED TV can achieve higher brightness levels. In areas with very high ambient light, a QLED/LED will retain clarity and contrast that may not be fully realized with an OLED panel in the same environment. Whether QLED or OLED is right for you completely depends on your needs. Definitive’s team can help you choose between the two, based on your individual goals.
The best TV for sports is one that considers future possibilities, not just what’s available today. You’ll want a TV that has at least 4k resolution. The higher the resolution, the more fine details you’ll be able to see. It makes the picture appear more realistic, like you can almost see the fuzz on the tennis ball before Serena Williams slams it into the far corner of her opponent’s court. Similar to the refresh rate, your favorite sporting events might not be broadcast at a high enough resolution to reap the full benefits of what your new TV is capable of offering. However, it’s better to buy based on what’s on the horizon for technology, not just based on the limitations of today. High Dynamic Range (HDR) is another feature to look out for, which offers colors that are closer to what our eyes can see in real life.
If you’re watching the big game with family or friends, you’ll want to make sure that every seat feels like the best seat in the house. How can you tell? TechRadar suggests standing at either side of the TV from a near 90-degree angle. Do the images still look strong, bright and clear? If not, find another TV. It’s also important to consider the environment when you’re shopping for the TV. For example, a large chain retail store may have very bright, cool lighting. These are poor conditions under which to evaluate screen displays. Our showrooms have warmer, more natural lighting, akin to what you have at home. As such, we set up the TVs in our showrooms to look technically accurate rather than as bright as they could possibly get.
Audio and visual go hand-in-hand in creating the ultimate watch party at home. To bring your audio up to the next level, you might consider investing in a soundbar or a hi-fi system. One of our favorites is the BlueSound Pulse Soundbar 2i, a multi-room, high-res wireless streaming soundbar coupled with their Pulse Flex 2i’s or a Powernode 2i to create the ultimate surround sound experience.
True sports fans don’t want to miss a big play, even when they go to get a refill or load back up on chip dip. Definitive Audio can help you design a set-up that allows you to be in front of the screen in the family room rooting for your home team, in the kitchen listening to the audio while making hot wings or outside on the covered deck watching the game in the fresh air. We also have ISF-certified technicians (Imaging Science Foundation) on staff, who can help you calibrate your TV to industry standards and an in-house service team in case you ever need warranty work.
If you decide to take the game outside, one of our favorite outdoor options is Samsung’s Terrace QLED 4K UHD HDR Smart TV. Rain or shine, the game is never canceled when you’re watching it on this smart TV at home. It’s built to withstand the elements, including rain or dust. It also offers 2,000-plus nit brightness levels. As a rule of thumb, you can generally unlock HDR’s full potential at 1,000 nits of brightness. There’s also protection against glare and a wide-viewing angle.
If you can’t be in the stands, a TV with life-like imagery and sound is the next best thing. Plus, you can wear your jersey over your pajamas, with absolutely no judgment from your dog or cat.