These TV sets are weather-resistant and can withstand moderate to severe sunlight. However, it is not easy to choose the right one.
For most people, spending time outside and watching TV is mutually exclusive. But they don’t have to be. My family has been enjoying time on our deck over the last few days using an outdoor TV that Consumer Reports loaned to us. We enjoyed the experience immensely. Also Read: best tv for eyes
It’s possible to catch a game of baseball outside in the sun just as you would at the ballpark. Or, you can see blockbuster movies under the stars like you were at a drive through. An outdoor TV may be worth it for a few months or all year depending on your location.
Although outdoor TVs were always expensive, prices have dropped in recent years despite increasing screen sizes. A 55-inch model starts at $1,500, and a twice as expensive one for an outdoor TV. This is a significant difference from the prices of outdoor TVs that were available just a few years ago. You can choose from a larger screen or a TV that is easier to view in direct sunlight.
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Outdoor TVs can be more expensive than regular sets for good reason. Outdoor TVs must not only provide a clear picture in bright sunlight but can also withstand rain, dirt and humidity.
When shopping for outdoor TVs, it is important to understand what features they have. Outdoor TVs are not all made for the same environment.
Although we don’t test outdoor TVs often or include them in our ratings, we did recently take a look at some 55-inch 4K models.
A set of the Samsung Terrace series was purchased for $3,500. We also bought a Furrion Aurora model which costs $2,600. We tried to purchase a low-priced (1,500) Element brand outdoorTv at Walmart but it was out of stock.
SylVox also sold a similar-priced outdoor TV. However, the screen on that model was cracked upon arrival, so we are returning it. We’ll update this article if we are able to review the Element set, or a replacement SylVox. Also Read: best tv for ps3
Take Outdoor TVs on a Spin
The Samsung QN55LST7T, and the Furrion Aurora FDU55CBS were our two sets. Although we didn’t conduct the same thorough testing as we do for televisions in our ratings, we did inspect them in our labs and in an outdoor area at our Yonkers headquarters.
To get a better understanding of how the Samsung worked, I brought it home from work for a long weekend.
The TVs were very similar in many ways. However, we saw significant differences beyond the $900 price difference.
For example, both TVs have well-constructed enclosures that protect them from the elements. Both TVs have rectangular compartments at the back that protect the power cord and connections from the elements. These extra protections make the TVs bulkier and heavier than regular TVs. The sets were approximately 65 pounds in weight, compared to the 40-pounds for 55-inch LCD TVs.
Although the Samsung TV is twice as thick than the Furrion model it has a narrower bezel that gives it a more modern, stylish, and sleek look when viewed from front.
On the right, the outdoor TV from Samsung had brighter colors and better contrasts than the Furrion.
Photo by Consumer Reports
Both outdoor TVs needed to be set up beyond their default settings. While the default picture setting for the Furrion was User, Samsung’s was Standard. However, both TVs offered brighter preset modes like Dynamic. These settings are good for brighter times, but can make colors look too saturated, crush black shadow detail and make images look too sharpened. Learn more about the TV settings which deliver the best picture quality.
Both sets are recommended to be used in partial sunlight. However, the manufacturers warn users against direct sunlight. It is expected that they will be able to be placed in shaded areas, such as under a patio roof. Other TVs are designed to be used in direct sunlight.
The Samsung Terrace is clearly the better option. It is a 120Hz QLED TV and, like indoor QLED sets, it uses quantum dots to provide a wider range of colors.
The TV has a full array LED backlight that can be dimmed locally. This can improve contrast and blacks. The smart TV also has access to many streaming services. It can also be used as a voice-activated device, with built-in support of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung’s Bixby digital assistant.
The Furrion Aurora, on the other hand, is a basic 60Hz TV with no local dimming and lacks smart TV features. You will need an external streaming player such as an Apple TV, Roku, or Roku to stream TV shows and movies. To prevent the WiFi signal from getting distorted, stick-style players that plug directly into an HDMI port must be kept open. The Samsung set also does not have Bluetooth audio. Also Read: best tv for nintendo switch
Both sets support high-dynamic range content. However, both sets have 4K TVs. The Samsung supports HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG formats. Furrion can only handle HDR10.
Furrion’s set has a simpler user interface and menu. In fact, it looked identical to those on cheaper Westinghouse TVs. You also had less options to optimize the picture. We were unable to achieve the same skin tones on the Samsung because the tint control was grayed.
It had one plus: the remote control was more stylish than the Samsung remote. The Samsung remote’s IP54 rating is higher, so it would be easier to leave outside in bad weather. For more information on IP ratings, see below. The remote can also be attached to the TV’s cabinet by magnetization.
We displayed a full-field pattern in white and it was obvious that the Samsung set to the right was brighter. Our measurements also confirmed this.
Photo by Consumer Reports
It was clear after only a few minutes of viewing that the Samsung Terrace TV was the superior overall set. It was also noticeably brighter than the Furrion in Standard (out-of-box) mode, and had better contrast and vivider colors.
We confirmed this higher brightness in our labs by measuring both TVs’ brightness using a full-field pattern. The Furrion is 700 nits while the Samsung has a brightness of 1700 nits. This extra brightness may not always be apparent in normal video content but it allows the Samsung to provide brighter images and vibrant colors. Although we haven’t tested this, the Samsung outdoor TV should produce an engaging HDR experience.
The Samsung screen was more effective at absorbing light than the Furrion set, making images appear a little washed-out. While both outdoor TVs offered narrow viewing angles, we found that the Samsung set was able to maintain picture quality when viewed from an angle.
The sound quality and power of the Samsung was also much better. The Furrion was difficult to hear at 8-10 feet viewing distance, but the Samsung did not have this problem.
We all agreed that the Samsung set’s superior performance and robust feature set and higher IP rating justifies its higher price.
How to Buy an Outdoor TV
Consider where you will place the TV and whether the sun can shade it. There are recommendations for outdoor TVs that can be placed in full sun, partial sunlight, partial shade and full shade. The location of the TV can have an impact on how weatherproofing it needs. You’ll need to make sure that your TV is safe to use in the temperatures of your area.
Let’s begin with weatherproofing.
Outdoor TVs, as well as many other products such portable speakers or fitness trackers, carry an IP rating, which means that they are protected from ingress. The International Electrotechnical Commission sets these two-digit codes. The set’s protection against dirt, dust, blowing sand and insects is indicated by the first digit. The second indicates its resistance to water and moisture. The IP rating for the Samsung set we purchased is 55. Furrion’s has IP54.
The rating scale for intrusion protection lets you see how tight the TV’s casing is. You can rate the TV from 1-7. One means that there is no protection and seven means that it is dustproof and sealed. Our lab gave the TVs a 5 rating. This means that no larger than 1mm (or 3/64 inch) is allowed to pass through the enclosure.
The Samsung remote is more elegant and stylish than the Furrion remote, but it has better weatherproofing.
Photo by Consumer Reports
The moisture protection scale is identical, but has nine levels. They range from 1 (no protection), to 9 (completely submerged in water under pressure for extended periods).
A TV placed on a patio roof or veranda will not require the same protection as one placed outside, where it is susceptible to heavy rainstorms and splashes from the pool or sprinkler sprays. The Samsung set’s moisture rating is 5, which means it’s protected against water spray from all directions. Furrion’s lower 4 rating means it is protected from water from any direction, including from condensation.
Outdoor TVs should have at least 5-6 as their first number and 4 to 6 for moisture rating, unless there is a special need.
Sunlight and Temperature
Your TV must also be capable of operating within the temperature limits in your area. We’ve seen outdoor TVs that have a wide range of temperature settings.
Samsung claims that the set it purchased can withstand temperatures between -22 and 122deg F. Furrion, on the other hand, says its set can withstand temperatures up to 122deg F. Even if you don’t live in such extreme weather, your TV can handle it.
Your outdoor TV will also need to be matched to the amount of sunlight it is expected to receive. According to the manufacturers, both sets were intended for partial sun. This means that they should be able to display sufficient brightness and have some anti-glare protection.
These sets should be placed in shaded areas, such as under an umbrella, patio roof or pergola. They will not be exposed to direct sunlight. Full sun models are more expensive so make sure to choose a spot that has some shade.
Remember that these TVs are TVs. This means factors such as screen size, sound quality, viewing angle and smart TVs will all be important. You may need an outdoor router or a mesh router if you plan to stream TV shows and movies.
We also discovered that most outdoor TVs do not come with mounts or stands, so you will need to purchase one separately. These TVs weigh significantly more than regular models, so make sure you choose an outdoor-rated model that can withstand the heavier weight and withstand the elements.
Last but not least, an outdoor TV cover can be used to protect your TV when it is not in use. This can keep dust, debris, as well as small animals, out of your TV’s eyes, especially during winter. Make sure you get one that is the right size for your TV.