Every year, fans of college sports go mad trying to catch 30-plus games of their team all the while hoping that their team’s season ends in victory at the men's college basketball division I tournament. Learn which TV specs and features can put you at the center of the action, and discover extras to help you manage the busy tourney schedule. These tips explain the essentials for TV shopping with the sports enthusiast in mind, from understanding refresh rates to why size matters on the court.
A Need for Speed
Great sports TV catches every move on the court without so much as a stutter. If you want to spot every pass, pay attention to your TV's refresh rate. This is the number of times that the image on your TV is refreshed per second. The higher the rate, the clearer and more life-like the action on-screen looks.
The average LCD or LED TV has a 60-hertz refresh rate, but many sports enthusiasts recommend 120 Hz, citing sharper action and less blurring. To bump the refresh rate higher, some TVs use motion interpolation, a process of inserting extra frames in between the real ones to make the image look smoother. This is especially common among 4K TVs claiming an "effective" refresh rate of 240 Hz or higher, which is essentially a marketing fib. Before you buy, check for the number that says simply "refresh rate" or "standard refresh rate" without any modifiers or copyrighted phrases.
To break beyond the 120-Hz barrier, you have to go plasma. Plasma TVs have a natural advantage in the speed department. The underlying technology relies on super-fast pulses of light, which means that the image is never really "refreshed" at all. For the sake of side-by-side comparisons, plasmas are typically labeled with a refresh rate of 600 Hz, reflecting the crisp action sequences that these TV screens natively display.
Supersize Your TV
A big screen TV fills your field of vision and sets the stage for an immersive tourney experience. The players' movements feel more dynamic, making every jump shot that much more exciting. Experts agree that you should aim for a 55-inch screen or larger, if your room can accommodate it. To determine how big you can go, measure the distance from the sofa to your screen in inches, and then multiply that number by 0.625. This figure, according to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, represents the ideal TV screen size for your viewing distance.
Pump Up the Contrast
Whether it's the sight of a player sprinting across the court or a ball soaring against the stadium's black ceiling, a sense of depth helps you feel like you're in the bleachers. A high native contrast ratio creates this feeling by rendering dark tones more deeply and light tones more brightly. The bigger the range, the more realistic tones and colors appear. Pay close attention to native contrast ratio, sometimes called static ratio, which indicates how the TV performs absent any enhancing technologies. At the show room, look for rich, velvety blacks and bright highlights that don't bleed into the neighboring pixels. If you want the best contrast ratio available, look at OLED TVs, which are able to turn individual pixels on and off, producing pitch-perfect blacks.
Even the best TV for sports television can't broadcast four games simultaneously. For helping navigating the packed tourney schedule, grab your tablet and start downloading apps. Bracket View displays which games are happening in real time so you don't miss your sports team's moments. There are apps lets you watch any sports game and make picks, while the College Sports Multi-Channel View app lets you watch up to four games simultaneously.
If your TV has the Picture-In-Picture feature, you can easily watch one sports game and keep an eye on a second. Look for a button labeled PIP on your remote, and check if that your TV has two tuners; otherwise, you can only use the feature to display an additional video source, such as from a DVD player or VCR.
Don't forget to adjust your TV screen settings before the games begin. Choose a bright setting that lets you better see the action, such as the Dynamic picture mode, and then adjust the brightness to suit the room. Alternatively, you can eyeball it by adjusting the contrast ratio until the picture is bright but still shows fine details, such as the folds in a white jersey or the shiny court floor.
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