How do I find out if my TV is out of date?

Your television has been around for a few years and you are wondering whether it is out of date and should you get a new one? There are several criteria to pay attention to in order to determine whether the TV is old news or is still completely sufficient.

A good tube TV used to last for decades. In the meantime, however, new technology is built into the TV every year, which makes the previous year’s device look old. Updated smart TV platforms, new standards such as HDR or Dolby Vision or improved versions of connections such as HDMI improve the feeling of vision every minute. But when is a television really “out of date”, how do I recognize it and when should I replace the device? The great advisor from TECHNOLOGY BUTTON explains.

Is my TV old if it can’t 4K?

If you are looking for a suitable television in the electronics market, you will almost only find models with four times the full HD resolution (4K) and a resolution of at least 8 million pixels. So is a full HD television out of date? First of all: Almost every manufacturer still offers the latest Full HD models today. However, these are not on the display table in the specialist market and are increasingly being pushed into the background in the manufacturers’ advertising campaigns. But they are there and still represent a considerable part of the market. So the resolution alone is not a sign of an old television.

And don’t worry: even those who still have an older Full HD TV don’t have to dispose of it immediately. The 4K resolution is nice and sharp up close, but with a few exceptions there are no 4K TV channels. However, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Sky increasingly offer the option of 4K content, which can improve the streaming experience. If you don’t care, you can rest assured: all films and series will continue to run in full HD.

4K is currently not mandatory – however, it will continue to be promoted by the film and TV industry over the next few years. If you want to buy a new TV anyway, you should accordingly consider whether you want to make yourself future-proof and use the 4K model. The next level with 8K is already in the starting blocks.

Does my TV need technologies like QLED, OLED or HDR?

OLED vs QLED

Every year the TV manufacturers vie for customers with all kinds of picture enhancement or display technologies. Many users no longer even see which term actually stands for what. In general, however, it can be said: Many are nice additions with nice marketing names, but nobody really needs them. Standards such as HDR (“High Dynamic Range”) or Dolby Vision ensure high contrast and brighter colors in 4K televisions. Samsung calls QLED an expensive display technology that provides luminous images with a particularly wide range of colors. And the so-called OLED displays are perhaps familiar to many from the smartphone world. These are displays that do not require a separate backlight, as the pixels light up themselves. This is a little more expensive than QLED, but it also ensures particularly beautiful pictures and enables a flatter design.

In order to get the most out of this, however, appropriately adapted material is required, i.e. films and series that support HDR, for example. This is increasingly the case, but the corresponding videos can also be viewed without the technology – then in a slightly less good image quality. Users for whom this is not so important should not be put off if their television does not have all of these functions – they do provide a pimped-up picture and are certainly interesting for technology and film enthusiasts, but not a must.

Is my TV old if my smart TV apps are slow?

Anyone who has connected their television to the Internet and uses the often pre-installed apps such as Netflix, the ARD and ZDF media libraries or Amazon Video will quickly notice the aging of the devices. As a rule, new versions of the operating systems are released every year, older versions are no longer necessarily supplied with app updates. Samsung has been using its own Tizen operating system for many televisions since 2015, and the apps are optimized accordingly. The Smart Hub on older devices is very slow to control today, there are only a few apps left and they start very slowly – also because the processors in the TV are no longer up to date.

If you only take the smart functions as a benchmark, a television could be considered out of date after 4 or 5 years. But: The image quality of the devices is still good and with steaming sticks you can easily upgrade current and smooth running apps at any time for just under 30 euros. The same applies here: If fast apps are important to you, then you should get a more up-to-date model. if it doesn’t bother you and the apps and and for themselves still work, older models still do.

What connections does a modern television set need?

Since flat screen televisions and full HD resolution became the standard for televisions, the HDMI connection can be found on every device. In principle, it is also sufficient to connect almost any device there, regardless of whether it is a Blu-ray player, Playstation or receiver. If a connection is missing, such as the thick Scart adapter, it can often be retrofitted with an HDMI adapter.

However, there are differences between the individual versions of the HDMI connections: The cable only transmits 3D content from version 1.4 from 2006, HDR content only from version 2.0 from 2013. If your TV has these functions, however he usually also uses the corresponding HDMI version. Televisions without an HDMI connection are definitely too old, so a change makes sense here. Because nothing can actually be connected here.

Do televisions lose their brightness over the years?

Yes, both regular LCD TVs – which have a number of LED lights built into the back of the TV – and OLED TVs lose their brightness over the years. However, for the viewer to really notice this, a normal LCD TV has to have been in operation for a very long time, around 50,000 to 70,000 hours. That would be around 6 years of continuous operation.

OLED televisions, in which each pixel lights up individually and without LED lamps, only have a limited shelf life, as Dr. Uwe Vogel, deputy head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics FEP, confirms to TECHNOLOGY BUTTON: “For OLEDs, the general rule is that, starting from an initial brightness, the luminance decreases over time”. LG, the leading manufacturer of OLED displays, specifies a time of at least 30,000 hours for the brightness of the display to drop by about half. So if you watched TV for 8 hours every day, you would get by with an OLED TV for around 10 years without any loss of brightness.

How do I know how old my current TV is?

Are you no longer sure when you bought your television? With a simple trick, most manufacturers can find out from which production year the device comes: Just look at the product name, which is usually on a sticker behind the TV. It can be read like this at the major manufacturers:

Samsung: Samsung’s product names are mostly long and initially very cryptic, e.g. UE65MU6179UXZG. While the UE indicates that it is a 4K television (also called UHD television), the 65 indicates the inch size. It gets interesting with the M, because that is basically the age of the device. Televisions from 2018 have an N at this point, 2017 models an M, 2016 models a K, 2015 models a J and so on. In principle, you only need to go through the alphabet backwards from the N (with a few exceptions such as the L or the I, which Samsung omitted). All information about the year can be found on the official Samsung website. The new QLED models no longer have this number – but they cannot be older than 2 years, as Samsung only introduced QLED in 2016

LG: LG’s TV names, such as 55UK6470PLC, can be deciphered in a similar way to Samsung’s: The 55 here again stands for the inch size, the U for a 4K television and the K for the age. However, LG lists the letters along the alphabet, an H for 2016, the J for 2017 and the K for 2018. The I was also omitted here. There is a different name for OLED panels, such as OLED55B7D. Here the number 7 indicates the age, in this case 2017. 2018 models have an 8.

Philips: At Philipps, the number for the age is at the end of the product description, for example for the Philips 55PUS7502. The number 2 at the end indicates the age, 2016 models have a 1, 2017 models have a 2 and 2018 models have a 3. Before that, the rule of thumb was: add a 5 to the last number and you get the year of production. The 65PUS9809, for example, dates from 2014 (9 + 5 = 14).

At Sony, the year of production cannot be read from the serial number. In this case, you can check the manufacturer’s website to see how old your television is.

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