Buying a television can be even more confusing than deciphering your cable bill. So here’s how to demystify the tech, decode the abbreviations, and make sure you walk away with the best set your money can buy.
1. Make It Easy on Yourself
The overwhelming process of buying a TV feels way more manageable when you realize that all the best TVs are “smart,” plasma is dead, and 3-D never should’ve existed. So forget that stuff! You actually have fewer decisions to make than you used to.
2. Lock in Your Budget
At the $700-to-$1,000 price range, you’re in the sweet spot: You’ll get 80 percent of the latest features, image quality, and design of crazy-expensive flagship models. You can get a 42-inch TV with stunning image quality or a massive 65-inch-plus television that—somehow—looks incredible (but turns your living room into a media room).
3. Remember: With TVs, “Bigger” Means “Way, Way Bigger”
You know how you’re supposed to measure your floor space before buying a rug? This is even more important. Use painter’s tape to map it out on your wall, remembering that—thanks to geometry—a 75-inch TV has more than double the screen area of a 50-inch one.
4. Know Only Three Abbreviations!
- UHD: Ultra HD. Otherwise known as 4K. The highest standard for pixels and clarity. You want this.
- HDR: High dynamic range. Better contrast ratio—blacker blacks, brilliant whites—and more of everything in between mean a better picture quality.
- OLED: Organic light-emitting diode. As with organic food, it’ll cost ya—but it’s worth the bucks for breathtakingly lifelike images.
5. Actually Go to a Store
You might be thinking about skipping the showroom. But that’s like buying a car without test-driving it. Fiddle around with the settings, watch something other than the glorious Planet Earth scene it’s probably playing, and zone out the other, more expensive units set up next to the one you’re looking at. Use your hands as blinders if necessary. Finally, ask the salesperson, “Could you help me find an HDMI cable?” If he steers you toward something under $15, trust him. If he offers you a $55 ultra-speed booster-pack HDMI, thank him for his time and Amazon Prime your TV on the way out.
…Or Skip All That and Just Go Buy One of These
The Best TV Under $1,000:
Vizio’s long had a rep for making the best budget TVs, and this year’s E-Series is again a huge value: 60 inches of 4K and HDR for a lot less than a grand.
$750 | vizio.com
The Greatest TV of All Time:
At 3.8 millimeters thick, the LG Signature OLED TV W looks like part of your wall. General rule: The thinner the TV, the thinner your wallet. This is as thin as it gets.
$7,999 | lg.com