Tech Talk: What TV jargon really means

Televisions are packed with technology, some of it useful, some of it less so.
Televisions are packed with technology, some of it useful, some of it less so.
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TELEVISION makers have form when it comes to selling us technology we didn’t know we needed. The 1990s were a case in point: they bolted an extra speaker onto the cabinet and called it a home cinema.

Today there isn’t a telly on sale that’s not emblazoned with stickers and badges for “features” we’ve never heard of and will seldom use. Often they’re just marketing hype to make sets look more sophisticated than they actually are. So here’s a quick summary of which ones to look out for – and which to take with a pinch of salt.

What they say: Built-in Freeview

What they mean: It’s a television. Analogue transmission has been switched off so Freeview is now the only way you can receive programmes through an aerial.

What they say: HD Ready

What they mean: It won’t receive HD channels but will display pictures from other sources at nearly full HD. On a moderately-sized screen you may not notice the difference but if you want to squeeze the best quality from a Blu-ray disc you need a set with 1080p resolution.

What they say: PVR Recording

What they mean: Some TVs can now record programmes, storing them on a USB stick or portable hard drive which you buy separately and plug into a socket on the back or side. This means a separate video recorder is not necessary.

What they say: Picture Enhancement Technology (or similar gobbledegook)

What they mean: They’ve incorporated a circuit to digitally “enhance” the picture. Different makers have made up their own terminology but you can safely discard them all, because cheaper sets are as likely to distort as improve the picture.

What they say: DLNA Compliant

What they mean: If you buy a smart TV – one that connects to the internet – make sure it carries this badge. It means it can connect not just to the outside world but also to compatible devices inside your house and share videos and other media between them.

What they say: Direct-lit or edge-lit

What they mean: Direct-lit screens have lights distributed across their surface whereas slimmer edge-lit sets rely on lighting from the sides. These were regarded as inferior but that’s less the case now.

What they say: HDMI sockets

What they mean: HDMI is the only interface between your TV and other digital products, so the more sockets the better.