TV buying guide

Watch your favourite programmes on a television which is just right for you with the help of this useful guide. John Lewis offers a wide range of TVs from the latest 4K Ultra HD curved screen to the more compact sets. All our televisions are delivered for free and include a 5-year guarantee for your peace of mind.

Size and design

The demand for larger screen televisions is evident with TVs now as thin as an inch. As a result, this makes the screen much easier to wall-mount. When selecting the screen size which is right for you, it is important to consider how far you will be sitting from the screen. All of our screens have a widescreen viewing ratio (or aspect ratio) of 16:9. This will allow you to see the whole picture as most broadcasts are now transmitted in widescreen.

The screen size shown in the table refers to OLED, LED and Plasma televisions.

Screen size
Distance from screen
Up to 22”
4 - 5ft
24 to 32” 6 - 9ft
39 to 46" 10 - 11ft
47 to 50" 12ft
55 to 60" 13ft
65 to 75" At least 14ft
Over 75" At least 20ft

Televisions with a screen type of 4K UHD provides a much more intimate viewing experience than the older resolution screen. As such, the most comfortable viewing distance is very much similar to the way we view films in the cinema – that’s 1.5 screen heights back. Translated to the home, this means that the recommended distance to view a 65 inch, 4K screen is five foot away from the sofa, although this may not be a practical option for many families. Therefore, look to secure the big screen to a suitable wall mount or television stand between six to eight foot away so you can make the most out of the available space in your living room.

Curved screens
Most of the benefits of curved displays come from being in the ‘sweet spot’: the right balance between distance and position. Here you can enjoy an almost wrap-around effect as the screen fills more of your vision. You’ll also have each part of the screen an equal distance from the eye which helps to create the impression that the screen is larger than it is. As a bonus, the concave design helps to cut down on screen reflections.

Curved screens improve side angles by bringing the corners of the screen back towards you so no matter where you are sitting, you’ll have the best possible viewing experience. For more advice watch our informational video below and see our guide on curved TVs for the best possible viewing experience.

 

Screen type

View our 4K UHD TVs
 
View our OLED TVs
 
View our LED TVs

Our range of TVs will provide you with a truly cinematic experience right in the comfort of your own home. Slim designs mean they're perfect for sitting on stylish TV stands or to be wall mounted with our range of wall brackets.

Smaller screens are also ideal for use as a computer display, providing they have a PC input. We've highlighted some of the key differences between 4K UHD, OLED and LED below.

4k UHD strengths

  • Vivid colours
  • Unprecedented picture clarity and detail
  • Ultra HD upscaling capabilities
  • Smaller screen availability

OLED strengths

  • Brighter colours
  • Higher contrast
  • Realistic blacks
  • Faster refresh rates

LED strengths

  • Energy efficient
  • Thinner models
  • Light weight
  • Displays darker blacks

Plasma strengths

  • Produces high contrast ratios and renders deeper blacks
  • Manufacturers are now withdrawing from plasma screens in favour of OLED

HD vs 4K Ultra HD

In the UK, HD-ready means that your TV is capable of showing broadcasted high definition footage. A HD Ready set  is able to handle High Definition signal but does not have a High Definition tuner built-in so the services would have to come from external sources such as Sky or Virgin. 

HD logo

Full HD

Full High Definition televisions display up to four times the quality of current analogue and digital broadcasts. Full HD gives you a higher screen resolution which means that it can give you more detail if you plug in a device which kicks out that kind of picture.

Some televisions will take a standard definition signal from a DVD player or the built-in digital tuner, and give it a HD "makeover" through a process referred to as upscaling. While this does make the picture better, the benefit of HD is appreciated fully when used in conjunction with a compatible source such as a Blu-ray player or games console.

What’s more, Full HD is currently being broadcast in a 1080p format. This format uses a ‘progressive’ scan which assumes a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9, a screen resolution of 1920x1080. And as a result, picture detail looks sharper and more defined than 720p and 1080i, especially during fast motion. The 1080i format uses an ‘interlaced’ system which results in a slightly lower picture quality.

The difference

The best general indicator of what the difference is between HD Ready and Full HD is the picture quality. The picture resolution is made up of lines of pixels that display the picture - the greater the resolution, the higher the picture detail will be.

4K Ultra HD
Ultra HD, also known as 4K, is a new class of high-definition resolution that offers unprecedented picture clarity and detail. Even close up, images are clearer, sharper and more realistic because they are created with 8.3 million pixels – that’s four times the pixels of a Full HD screen. This means that you can sit closer to the screen or view on a larger television, without the picture looking pixelated.

4K Ultra HD is just a taste of what is around the corner in television world. The majority of big-budget films are now being shot in 4K and some television broadcasting companies, including the BBC, have been experimenting with 4K filming for some time now but are yet to broadcast. So in the meantime, streaming is the primary way to receive 4K content in our homes. Netflix has already launched its initial 4K offering, as has Amazon who announced their 4K service to Prime Instant Video users in December 2014. YouTube also plan to stream 4K content this year. You could even generate your own content with a 4K HD camcorder by which you can record and watch your creations in 4K on your UHD TV or even on YouTube.

The resolution will really come into its own in delivering sports coverage over the next year or so. And while we wait for 4K content to arrive, Ultra HD TVs can still offer dramatic improvements in picture quality which can be enjoyed on the 4K screen because of upscaling capabilities. At the time of introduction to the market, 4K UHD screens were commonly large, over 70”, which was also reflected in the price. Thankfully though, not only have the prices fallen but so have the screen sizes which makes them a lot more manageable for the home. As manufacturers continue to use a variety of technologies to support a faster frame rate and improve colour and contrast, the larger screen sizes can come into play too to create a truly immersive cinematic experience.

Cables
If you want to connect you television to a Blu-ray player or games console then you’ll need a HDMI cable. These all-in-one cables carry sound and video signals in a much neater package than older component type cables. Generally speaking, the more that is spent on quality, the more quality signal is transmitted, so be sure to consider your options before purchasing.

Read our TV accessories buying guide

SMART TV and media streaming

SMART TVs bring you the best of the web straight to your television screen by seamlessly streaming online content through your broadband connection. With no need for a PC, you can access a world of online video entertainment direct from the comfort of your sofa, via your TV screen and trusty remote control.

If you don't own a SMART TV already, you'll need a smart box and broadband connection. Once the network media player is plugged into your TV, friends and family can enjoy your favourite memories, tracks or movies not hunched around a computer.

Media streaming is set to become even easier with the advent 
of DLNA compatible products. DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compatibility is the ability to access your photos, music and movies from your PC across your home network from a compatible device. For instance, you could play your friends the latest MP3 track you've just downloaded, even though your computer is upstairs in the spare bedroom.

Ways to use media streaming

  • Watch movies: stream favourite DVDs or downloaded movies from your PC to your big-screen TV in the living room.
  • Watch a family slideshow: access your entire digital photo library and view all your pictures on TV.
  • Listen to entire music playlists: free up the music on your PC and listen to it in the living room via the TV's sound system.
  • Watch videos from YouTube or catch up with the latest on demand services from BBC iPlayer and 4oD, all on your large screen.
  • Choose from a huge number of internet radio stations: access them via remote control from the comfort of your armchair.

Discovering 3D

3D TVs bring entertainment to life before your eyes. By wearing specially designed 3D glasses, images are given added depth, making you feel as though you're in the middle of the action. Glasses-free 3D TVs have also started to appear, meaning that you can dispense with specs altogether, sit back and enjoy immersive 3D viewing in total comfort. 3D programming is available from Sky, presenting sports, movies and entertainment in all their glory. You can also enjoy all your favourite movies on a compatible 3D Blu-ray player.

3D TVs will allow you to watch both 3D and 2D video content as they use the same electronic video processing systems to display the images. You'll even be able to turn off the 3D effect in order to watch your programmes and films in 2D.

There are three types of 3D: Active, Passive and Glasses-Free (or 'auto-stereoscopic'). The former typically offers the greater 3D experience and uses glasses which have small LCD screens. They're typically heavier than passive glasses and will require charging after prolonged use. They're also more expensive than passive glasses, which are more lightweight and thus more comfortable for extended 3D viewing.

How does it work?

Active 3D works by sending two separate images of the same scene simultaneously, one intended for your right eye and one for your left. These full-size images occupy the entire screen and appear intermixed with one another, appearing blurred for viewers not wearing 3D glasses. When you don the glasses, you'll perceive these two images as a single 3D image, a process known as 'fusing' and the illusion of depth is created.

Passive 3D glasses block different kinds of light from each eye, creating the illusion of depth. For those who have experienced 3D films at your local cinema, this is passive 3D.

Glasses-free 3D requires the TV to project differing images to each eye which then merge to create a 3D effect. This is a similar technique used by the other two methods, but a special lens in the TV panel takes care of the glasses' job of fusing the images together.

What do I need?

To watch 3D in your home you'll require a 3D ready TV, a 3D source such as Sky 3D or a 3D compatible Blu-ray player3D glasses for your TV set and a compatible HDMI cable to transfer the 3D signal to your TV.

Tuners

Freeview

With a Freeview box, you can enjoy 60 digital television channels and 25 radio stations all for free. No subscription or satellite is required.

Freeview HD

Freeview HD enables you to watch all your standard definition TV channels as well as up to 12 HD channels including: BBC HD, BBC One HD, ITV HD and Channel 4 HD.


Freesat

Freesat is a satellite service which offers quality, free entertainment via a set top box or a receiver that is integrated in to your TV.

Freesat HD

Freesat HD lets you experience the brilliance of subscription-free satellite in high definition. Discover what's on offer and how to get it – you'll soon be putting your feet up and enjoying a wealth of entertainment.

Find out how to get freesat up and running

Free time

Free time unlocks Smart, new features to freesat, including: a Roll Back Guide that lets viewers ‘turn back time’ to watch programmes that have already been on, a Showcase section providing handpicked programme recommendations and enhanced On Demand and recordings. The freesat mobile companion app offers the ability to plan, record and manage programmes to watch and directly control the TV. Now available on Panasonic TVs and set top boxes.

Sky & Virgin HD
Sky offer the widest range of HD programmes in the UK. The Sky HD box includes Sky+ functionality that allows you to record 2 channels at the same time and lets you pause and rewind live TV.

Virgin also offer the option to subscribe to Sky Movies and Sky Sports which means you can even get up to 16 additional premium HD channels.

Sound quality

With the advent of 3D TV and 4K UHD, and the resulting improvement in picture quality, sound has become increasingly important for an immersive viewing experience. Most TVs feature simple stereo sound or a system that produces a 'virtual' surround sound effect. Adding a sound bar or sound base will allow you to recreate those memorable cinematic experiences in your own living room.

A sound bar is for positioning in front of the television screen or even securing to a wall. Depending on the model, the sound bar will either have a wired or a wireless subwoofer, which enhances bass and depth to the sound quality. A soundbar with a wireless subwoofer has the added benefit of discreet storage which can be stowed away safely within your living room at ease.

A sound base is for positioning underneath the base of the television screen. These are ideal if space is limited or if you would prefer a more discrete sound enhancing option. The sound base has an integrated sub-woofer which replaces the built-in television sound with an enhancing quality, leveraging the wattage and power.

Visit our home cinema systems on more ways on how you can grow your home entertainment.

Read our home cinema buying guide

TV installation services

Setting up and installing a new TV can be a time-consuming process and sometimes a bit of a headache, even for those with technical know-how.

So, if you simply don't have the time or inclination to set it all up, one of our technology consultants can help. We've an extensive menu of at home support services to get you up and running with the minimum of fuss. Services cannot be booked online – please visit or call your nearest shop to make a booking.

Find out more about our TV installation services

Glossary

  • 100Hz: high frequency rate that helps eliminate flicker.
  • 3D: displays compatible media with a third dimension. Available in passive, active or glasses-free versions.
  • 4K: Refers to the 4,000 pixels across a screen's horizontal, compared to 1,080 with full HD
  • 4K Ultra HD: a display standard with four times the detail of Full HD
  • Ambient light sensor: maintains a constant contrast level, even if the lighting in the room changes.
  • Aspect ratio: the ratio of image width to image height.
  • Auto tuning: automatically tunes in the channels that an aerial can receive.
  • Auto label: identifies and labels the pre-set channels.
  • BBE: reduces distortion in the sound signal.
  • Brightness: measures the quantity of light emitted from the television screen. A higher level of brightness produces a bolder and more vibrant picture. An average brightness is 500cd/m2.
  • Component lead: produces a better picture from your DVD player than a standard composite lead.
  • Composite lead: standard connection to a VCR/DVD player (see Component lead and S-Video lead).
  • Contrast ratio: the higher the contrast ratio of a television the deeper and richer the picture will be. This is the measurement of the difference in light intensity between the brightest possible white and the darkest possible black. An average contrast ratio is 500:1.
  • Digital comb filter: separates combined colour and black and white picture information to provide a sharp picture.
  • Dolby Digital 5.1: It boasts 5 separate channels, plus a sixth bass (hence the 5.1). Particularly suitable if you watch a lot of DVDs, you can also enjoy great sound on your Xbox or Playstation.
  • Dolby ProLogic: Most programmes broadcast this way. Featuring a five speaker system - left, right, centre and 2 mono speakers - you'll be able to enjoy the benefit.
  • Dolby ProLogic II: similar to the ProLogic, but with a fuller rear channel range. It also works on 2 modes: 'movie' or 'music', for an enhanced sound experience.
  • Fastext: updated version of Teletext that uses coloured keys on a remote as shortcuts to particular pages.
  • Frame rate: the higher the frame rate the less flicker you'll see on the screen. The rate is measured in Hertz (Hz).
  • freesat: satellite-based subscription-free service with over 150 channels on offer. Viewable through an integrated tuner or separate receiver.
  • Freeview: free digital service offering over 30 channels through an integrated digital television or a separate freeview digital receiver.
  • HDMI: (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) a connector which delivers high definition signals from your satellite receiver, DVD/Blu-ray player, games console or home cinema system directly to your TV.
  • HDTV: high definition television.
  • Memory card/SD slot: lets you plug your memory card, taken from your digital camera or camcorder, straight into your TV, then play back all your files in style.
  • Multi system TV tuner: lets you view the television in some other countries.
  • NICAM stereo: simple, clear stereo sound that comes from twin, built-in speakers. Providing you have the right connections you can always upgrade to a separate sound system.
  • NTSC: compatible with American TV and video recordings.
  • OLED: a fast, vivid and energy efficient TV panel technology
  • PAL (Phase Alternative Line): the television system used in most European Countries.
  • Parental lock/child lock: Lets mums and dads lock out unsuitable content for children.
  • Picture-in-picture/dual screen: on-screen features that allow programmes to be viewed simultaneously (one full screen, the other in a smaller window).
  • Pixels: 'picture elements' are the small graphic units that make up the picture. The greater the number of pixels, the better the resolution.
  • Power output: amount of energy produced by a component.
  • Progressive scan: all horizontal lines of the frame are shown in one go. This delivers a superior picture from a DVD or video player.
  • Refresh rate: the higher the refresh rate, the more details are retained for a smoother movement across the screen with less blurring and staggering.
  • Resolution: screen resolution is a good general indicator of picture quality. The screen is made up of thousands of pixels, the greater the amount of pixels the better the quality of picture will be.
  • RMS (Root Mean Square): often used to measure the power output of a device. Provides a realistic measure of the output rather than the peak.
  • SCART (Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs): connector that transfers pictures and sound to the TV.
  • SECAM: television system used in France.
  • Sleep timer: allows the TV to turn itself off after a set amount of time.
  • SRS TruSurround sound: the effect of Dolby Surround Sound using only the two front speakers.
  • Subwoofer: a speaker that reproduces very low frequencies.
  • UHD: Ultra-High Definition television delivers four times as much detail as 1080p Full HD - that's eight million pixels compared to two million pixels.
  • Upscaling: taking the standard definition signal from the digital tuner or Blu-ray player and processing the picture to a much clearer and refined detail.
  • Virtual Dolby: clever system that distributes the sound around the room from the twin, built-in speakers. This gives an effect similar to surround sound.
  • Visible screen size: diagonal measurement in cm from one corner of the screen to the other.