TV Types Compared: A Simple Guide

Can you name all different TV types? You will in a few minutes!

TV technology has been evolving a lot over the years. There are many things that characterize a TV model, which varies from brand to brand. To name a few: screen type, display technology, display resolution and connectivity support.

But every television model belongs to one or more of a few TV category sets that are pretty easy to catch up with. This simple guide will show you everything you need to know about what differs televisions.

Let’s get TV types compared.

1. Features comparison

The first way of categorizing TVs is by their features. That’s a very modern comparison because the main features that TVs have nowadays weren’t part of original televisions popular before the Internet and, most importantly, before the invention of video sharing platforms (like YouTube and Twitch) or the invention of streaming services (like Netflix and Amazon Prime).

Those are the TV types categorized by features:


Smart TVs Explained

Smart TV

That’s the most usual TV type nowadays. Their main feature is Internet connection which allows access to videos, photo and music, mostly through video-sharing platforms, streaming services and installable applications (a.k.a. app shops, such as Google Play and Apple Store). This TV type also has the classic TV functions, such as cable connection. Connected TV or CTV are another ways of naming Smart TVs.


HDR TV

This TV type implements the HDR technology. “HDR” means High Dynamic Range, which improves image range by increasing its brightness, contrast and color levels, but it’s completely different from the display resolution feature, as you’ll see ahead in this guide. In short, HDR TVs image quality is a lot better (not higher) than non HDR TVs. HDR tech is mostly for TVs with 4K resolution, a.k.a. Ultra HD or UHD (“HD” means High Definition). HDR TVs can also have 8K resolution. Both 4K and 8K are the highest image resolutions, delivering 4,000 and 8,000 pixels. So, 4K TV and 8K TV may or may not display HDR image.


App Control TV

The main feature of App Control TVs is to allow the user’s control over its features by a remote control (a.k.a. clicker) to access the TV’s built-in control application.


Voice Control TV

This type of TV allows user control over its features by voice command. That’s possible with the use of voice activation tech. This TV has a built-in voice assistant, such as Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. Voice Control TVs usually have a remote control device (the clicker). Also, some remove control devices support voice activation tech. This feature varies from TV model to TV model.


For this comparison, the same television can belong to more than one type. For example: a Smart TV can be a Voice Control TV and have HDR tech, all at the same time.

2. Display technology comparison

The categorization by display technology specifies what output surface and projecting mechanism compose a television. Display tech combines physical and digital setups. There are quite a few types of display technologies, but some of them are old fashion and out of production, while others are variations of the modern ones.

Those are the TV types categorized by display technology:


LCD TV

This television type is the most common nowadays, a.k.a. liquid-crystal display TVs. The tech behind them is, as the name promises, the use of liquid crystals to produce images.


LED TV

That’s in fact an LCD television that uses Light Emitting Diodes to display images, that’s why is known as LED TV, LED-LCD or LED-backlight LCD. Most LED TVs have an LCD display, except for QLED and OLED TVs. A liquid-crystal display with LED backlighting is the main tech behind LED displays. They’re more and more replacing the classic cold-cathode fluorescent light displays (a.k.a. CCFL).


QLED and OLED TVs Explained

QLED TV

Very new among televisions, QLED means Quantum Light-Emitting Diode and it’s a TV type that emends super small antiparticles in the LED TV display, a.k.a. quantum dots. For that reason, QLED TVs have better color and brightness quality than normal LED TVs.


OLED TV

OLED means Organic Light-Emitting Diode. This type of television improves LED TV image quality by allowing pixels to produce light themselves (hence the “O” in OLED for organic light). This means OLED TVs have self illuminating pixels, with no need for the artificial LED display light. This way, the image has better quality from a farther distance in the viewer’s perspective.


Plasma TV

Ruling the market up to 2007, this type of TV was the first alternative to cathode-ray tube televisions. The tech behind Plasma TVs is a cellular grid with pixels that have an ionized gas that reacts to electricity fields, or simply “plasma”. After the invention of LCD and LED TVs, Plasma TVs are out of production in most companies since 2015.


Direct-View TV

Direct TV or Direct-View TV is the old fashion bulky tube TV type that works with cathode-ray tube technology. Definitely out of production, Direct-TVs can be still be found in vintage shops or individually for sale with their owners.


DLP TV

Digital Light Processing displays, a.k.a. DLPs, process digital signals by using optical semiconductor chips with hundreds of thousands of mirrors that tilt to multiple degrees, a process that creates images by reflect light in different directions. DLP TVs used to be better and cheaper than old fashion Direct-View TVs and Plasma TVs, but nowadays DLP tech is more common with multimedia projectors, as LED TVs rule the market.

And as we’re talking about multimedia projectors,  see our post Multimedia Definition with Examples to understand why multimedia isn’t the same as media!


 

3. Display resolution comparison

Don’t confuse display resolution with screen size because the diagonal size of a TV screen determines its size, often in inches, also screen size is a physical feature, while display resolution  is a logical feature that uses pixels as a measurement and specifies the TV image definition quality. The highest the TV resolution, the closest the image is to real life.

TV Display Resolution Explanation

A television can have very high display resolution in pixels and yet have a very small screen size, or the opposite.

Those are the TV types categorized by display resolution:


720p HD TV

This type of television delivers images with 1,280 rows of pixels across the screen horizontally and 720 columns of pixels down the screen vertically. 720p TVs were known as High Definition before better resolutions came (hence the “HD”). Today, “HD” refers either to 1080p, to 4K or to 8K televisions. The 720p resolution is rare nowadays, and it will eventually leave the market. However, many channels still broadcast 720p image because 720p TVs are cheaper and some smaller screen TVs have 720p resolution yet, such as 32” (inches) TVs.


1080p Full HD TV

This type of is the successor of 720 resolution. They’re also known as Full HD TVs or 1080p HDTV. The pixels amount of 1080p TVs is with 1,920 in across the screen horizontally and 1,080 in columns down the screen vertically. In short, 1080p TVs deliver the twice what 720p do. This resolution is very popular and even with the arrival of 4K and 8K resolutions, 1080p TVs will stick around for a long time.


4K Ultra HD TV

Ultra HD or UHD are other ways of naming 4K TVs. If you see “Ultra HD Blu-Ray” around, it’s also 4K resolution. There are a few different versions of 4K resolution and their pixel proportion vary from 4K made for TVs to 4K made for computer monitors and to 4K made for multimedia projectors. As we’re talking about TVs here, let’s focus on  TV 4K resolution, but keep in mind that 4K doesn’t change much for computer monitors and multimedia projectors. The television 4K Ultra HD resolution delivers images with 3,840 pixels in rows across the screen horizontally and 2,160 pixels in columns down the screen vertically. 4K TVs are relatively new, but they’re already dominating the television manufacture.


8K Ultra HD TV

8K TVs are the most new television type. They deliver the double of 4K resolution, with images of 7,680 pixels in rows across the screen horizontally and 4,320 pixels in columns down the screen vertically. You already can buy 8K Ultra HD TVs, just remember they’re expensive because 8K resolution is state-of-the-art brand new super modern technology!


For this categorization, each TV only belongs to one television type.

4. Screen design comparison

This feature can be very subtle, it can also be a little hard to tell the difference between its types. It’s a physical feature that specifies the TV screen design.

There are two different screen design types:


Flat Screen and Curved Screen TVs Explained

Flat-Screen TV

Opposite to old fashion tube televisions that had cathode-ray tubes (CRT), Flat-Screen TVs do what their name promises: they display images in a flat and thing screen using one of the modern display technologies. LCD Flat-Screen TVs and Plasma Flat-Screen TVs are the most common ones. They’re also known as “Flat Panel TVs”.


Curved-Screen TV

This TV type has a curved screen aiming to deliver a better viewing experience. They’re also known as “Curved Panel TVs”. Their popularity is very low compared to Flat-Screen TVs because they don’t offer as good angles as Flat-Screen TVs do, and are also more reflection sensitive. Curved-Screen TV’s manufacture range is decreasing a lot from year to year, so they can eventually vanish from the market.


Screen design is a unique feature in a television. There can’t be a TV that’s Flat-Screen and Curved-Screen at the same time.

5. Connectivity support comparison

This categorization is very simple because it specifies what device connections a television supports. Although connectivities vary from TV to TV, there are the most common ones that you can find in most televisions.

Those are the most common connectivities a TV can have:


USB

USB connections allows you to plug most physical devices to your TV, such as computers, external hard drives, pen drive flash disks and even smartphones.


HDMI

This connection allows audio and video interface between TVs and devices such as laptop computers.


Ethernet

This connectivity type is a.k.a. LAN or wired connection. It’s present in Smart TVs because it allows Internet routers to connect directly to the Smart TV. Ethernet connections can be replaced for Wireless Internet if the TV supports it. However, the Ethernet connection usually grants faster Internet access.

TV Connectivity Support Comparison


Wireless

This connectivity allows TVs to connect to the Internet via Wireless networks, a.k.a. Wi-Fi. It’s a connectivity also very common in Smart TVs.


Bluetooth

This connectivity allows short-range wireless communication between other devices and TVs. It’s more common to connect laptop computers and smartphones to televisions using Bluetooth.


The same television can have multiple connectivity support, such as Ethernet and USB ports as well as Wireless connectivity.

Don’t forget the screen size!

There’s one more thing that characterizes a TV: it’s screen size, which refers a TV’s diagonal size. Screen sizes are unique from TV to TV. It’s measurement unity is inches. The most common TV sizes are 42, 50, 55, 65, and 75 inches (or 42”, 50”, 55”, 65”, and 75”).

You’re now an expert about TV types

As you can see, TV types are no longer a mystery to you!

Just to sum it all up, now that you’ve come this far, if you see a TV name like “4K HDR 65” Flat-Screen LED Smart TV with Voice Control and Bluetooth Support”, that includes, in order of appearance: display resolution (4K), TV feature (HDR), screen size (65”), screen design (Flat-Screen), display technology (LED), TV feature (Smart TV), TV feature (Voice Control) and connectivity support (Bluetooth Support).

Cool! You’re a TV-type-expert now!

You can also share your thoughts in the comments below!

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