With Clemson & Panthers in playoffs, big games deserve the big TV

David Walker waits for some help to check out in front of a variety of big-screen televisions at Best Buy in Rock Hill.
David Walker waits for some help to check out in front of a variety of big-screen televisions at Best Buy in Rock Hill.

It’s the big game and you want the big TV.

It’s all about down, distance and dollars.

Down is where you will sit to watch your new big TV. How far your favorite recliner or sofa is from the screen is a critical factor in enjoying your new television.

The general rule of thumb is 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 times the screen diagonal for the high definition sets – between 6 and 12 feet from the screen for a 55-inch television.

You can get closer if you buy a more expensive 4K set. 4K sets have four times the number of pixels of a high definition set, meaning that small objects on the screen have more detail, including sharper text.

The number of pixels means you can sit closer to the big screen, generally 1 to 1/2 times the diagonal distance – between 4 and 6 feet.

The dollars? Well, it often comes down to personal preference, brand loyalty and what you see. Still, there are bargains to be had before kickoff.

Regardless of the technology, if you haven’t replaced a TV recently, it’s a totally different experience now, says Alex Hollingsworth, a team leader for Rock Hill’s Best Buy store.

Hollingsworth has been selling TVs for more than 10 years, the last four at Best Buy. He remembers when state of the art meant a projection TV that cost between $6,000 to $7,000. Some of the best big screen TVs can be had for less than $1,000, he said.

Picture quality is so amazing that “you feel like you are in the game. You are in there with Cam Newton,” said Hollingsworth, a Panthers fan who usually has to catch a play or two of Panthers games on a set at Best Buy as he works Sunday.

Clemson and Panthers fans have been some of Best Buy’s and other retailers best customers recently.

“Everyone wants a new TV to watch sports and if your favorite team is playing, it’s time to pull the trigger,” Hollingsworth said.

Gary Loflin, who retired after working for York County for 30 years – the last six in charge of the 911 communications center – was among those shopping the day after Christmas.

Loflin received two Apple watches for Christmas. He kept one and returned the other to buy a 55-inch LG television – to watch the Panthers, as well as all of the Star Wars movies. He plans to have his own big-screen marathon before watching the latest Star Wars’ movie “The Force Awakens.”

Researching which TV to buy can be an overwhelming experience as there’s an array of technology and specifications. Some research, though can help people such as Hollingsworth find the best options for them.

“I ask people three questions,” Hollingsworth said. “Have you done research, where will it be used and what will it be used for? Sports, gaming, the Internet? Then we can help find the right TV for the customer.”

Many of the sets for sale now are 4K/ultra high definition. Most are also smart TVs with built-in Wi-Fi for connecting to Internet-based services such as Netflix, Hula and Pandora.

Specifications do matter, and most TV reviewers recommend a set with a minimum resolution of 1080 p, and a “refresh rate” of 120 hertz.

HDMI ports, where you connect external components such as Blu-ray players, game consoles and the all-important sound bar, are critical. Most reviewers recommend at least four HDMI ports.

Then there’s the sound. The new ultra-thin television sets have speakers on the same quality level as your laptop. Invest in a sound bar at minimum.

Then there is the setup. Buying a television is no longer a come home, take it out of the box, and plug it in experience. Some computer skills are required, or, at the very least, some patience. Many retailers will offer to install the new set for a price. Depending on your computer competency, that can be money well spent.

And finally, it is about big. The most common complaint is people don’t buy a big enough big-screen television. The sweet spot that combines size and price, Hollingsworth and others say, is between 55 and 60 inches.