Q: Several years ago, we bought a Panasonic Smart TV you recommended in your column. It has served us well, but we recently received notification that our TV will no longer support Netflix. We aren't TV nerds, but it looks like we will have to buy a new TV to continue to get Netflix. Can you recommend a new smart TV for under $999? Also, what does OLED mean?
A: There is no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater if you are otherwise happy with your television. You can connect a streaming media player to an HDMI port on your current TV and continue to get Netflix, as well as a lot of other streaming content for as little as a $30 investment.
My favorite streaming media system is the Roku Express (roku.com). It's an easy-to-use platform that has tons of programming choices, many of them free. The Amazon Fire TV Stick (amazon.com/firetvstick) has good things going for it, as well. For example, if you are a DISH customer, you can add the DISH Anywhere app to your Fire TV Stick and access your subscription channels with an internet connection. This is a great feature for people who have a cabin or other place where they want to have access to the full range of television channels they usually enjoy. It's more convenient — and cheaper — than having a second DISH antenna and set-top box installed, along with a second subscription bill to go with it.
Should you decide to go the new TV route, you can get a lot of nice ones for $999 or less. I suggest you look at the Samsung Q60 and Q70 series, TCL 6-Series (both the 2018 model and the 2019 QLED) and the Sony X900F series.
As for OLED, it stands for organic light-emitting diode, a high-end display technology that competes with the very best LCD/LED televisions. OLED is championed in the United States by LG and Sony and is undoubtedly the picture quality king.
The downside to OLED is the burn-in issue. Burn-in happens when an image — a channel logo, for instance — remains on screen for too long. Once that happens, a ghost of that image will always be visible. Manufacturers argue that it takes several hours before burn-in takes place, but for viewers who watch networks like Fox News, CNN or MSNBC that have a bar across the bottom of the screen with a logo in it, those images can end up being on the screen for hours at a time. Gamers also have reported burn-in problems when they freeze their video games.
As much as I love OLED picture quality, the reputation for burn-in has become enough of a concern that I tend to steer readers elsewhere when asked about top-of-the-line televisions. The Samsung Q90 remains my recommendation. I have yet to see the new TCL 8-Series QLED with MicroLED backlighting in person, but it is said to rival OLED for picture quality. It's certainly worth checking out.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.