The Super Bowl isn’t just a showcase for cool commercials and awesome apps (as in spicy chicken wings), it’s a chance to score some of the deepest discounts on the highest quality TV’s on the market today.
Most major retailers run huge sales in the week leading up to the big game, to clear out the best TVs from 2016 before the new sets hit the shelves in March. Unlike Black Friday, which often pushes out older model, off-brand sets, the vast majority of the new ones on sale now are top-of-the-line TVs with eye-melting features like 4K resolution, ultra-clear OLED technology, and internet-connected streaming features.
If you’re in the market for a new Television, here’s how to get one for a fraction of you would normally spend.
Diving Into Discounts
These TVs are way cheaper than normal, and prices haven’t been this good since Black Friday. You can expect to save at least 22% on average, but I found even deeper discounts — of 50% and more — online and by taking a trip to my local Walmart last week.
I went looking for a specific 55-inch Samsung 1080P Smart HDTV I spotted online for the sale price of $497 — more than $1,100 off the original $1,600 price tag. But when I got to the store, the price tag said $598. The store manager told me the site often advertises special flash sales, and that they would be happy to match the best price — not only from Walmart’s site — but most of their competitors too.
My friend Pat discovered another buying trick this week as well. He bought a new TV right after Christmas, and when I told him he should have waited until now, he looked up the price. Sure enough, it had dropped $200. No problem, he took his receipt in and they credited back the difference. The store clerk even told him to keep an eye open for more price drops within a reasonable amount of time (typically 15-30 days) and they would refund any additional money too.
If you’re not up on TV jargon, like UHD, OLED, LCD, input lag, refresh rate and all the rest, don’t worry. Focus on your budget, the TV size (go big – but not too big for your room), and whether you want a Smart TV that connects to the internet to stream content. If a sales clerk tries to speak spec mumbo-jumbo, explain that you’re looking for the best picture quality within your price range. Talk through size and accessories that you already own such as a gaming console. Keep it simple, and insist that salespeople do too.
But just in case you want more information, here’s a simple breakdown of a few other tech-specs that everyone’s talking about.
4K or not 4K?
The biggest question for a new TV buyer now is whether or not to take the leap to 4K, which is four times sharper than the 1080p HDTV. Here’s the catch: Super Bowl 51 will not be broadcast in 4K. In fact, no TV networks currently broadcast anything in 4K. 4K TVs are built with the future in mind, and even though you can stream some Netflix shows and movies in the new ultra-sharp resolution, you won’t see a dramatic difference if you choose to buy a 4K set for the big game.
If your budget allows it, a 4K display will have you prepared for the future, but don’t feel bad if you decide to stick with a cheaper 1080p HDTV. Basically, if you can’t stomach the idea of buying a new TV in the next five years or so and you absolutely must have the latest and greatest, go for the 4K if your budget can handle it, but be prepared to pay quite a bit more.
When size matters
In most living rooms, 55” is the sweet spot. It’s not too big but it’s easily viewable from just about everywhere. For this size, you should be sitting between 8’ and 10’ from the screen, so if your seating arrangement results in people sitting much closer or much farther away, your TV size should be adjusted accordingly. That’s not to say a 55” TV won’t look great from 6’ away, but as a general rule it’s a good idea keep your TV in proportion to your room size.
There are other things you should consider while in the planning stages of your purchase, like the size of your entertainment center or TV stand and how a larger TV will actually fit into your room. If you’re looking for a direct swap of your old TV for a new one, remember that bigger TVs have larger footprints, and if the TV’s base is too big for your stand you’re going to need an upgrade for that, too. Keep things things in mind so you don’t accidentally nickel and dime yourself past your budget!
What does it all mean?
Along with the question of whether you should care about 4K, there are a couple of other technology advancements here you can brush up on.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and it’s all the talk of the TV world lately. HDR is only an option when it comes to 4K TVs, so if you’re not in the market for one of those you can skip this part, but for the rest let’s dive in: A TV with HDR is able to display a much wider range of colors than one without it. It can achieve much darker blacks and might brighter whites, while at the same time preserving the details of the scene so that nothing appears washed out or too dark and blurry to see. It’s a small but noticeable change, but it’s only really beneficial with video content that is optimized for HDR. Non-HDR video will still look great, but it won’t be taking full advantage of the technology you paid extra for. Some streaming video content from Netflix and Amazon Prime supports HDR, but most of it does not. That will gradually change, but it won’t be the standard for some time.
OLED stands for organic LED (light-emitting diode) but that’s really just a fancy way of saying that each pixel on the TV lights itself, as opposed to a standard LED TV where the pixels are lit by a backlight situated behind the display. By allowing each pixel to control its own brightness, scenes with lots of contrast look much, much clearer. You’ll see some of the darkest black shades on an OLED TV since there is no pesky backlight to muddle up dark scenes, and bright scenes will be just as great as they’ve always been.
For as many great new TV features as there are, there’s just as many that don’t make a lick of difference but just look good on the box. A curved TV might seem cool in the store, but consider how it’s going to fit in your living room and whether people watching from an angle will actually be able to see what’s going on.
Then there’s the manufacturer-exclusive features that each company always tries to pass off as the next big thing. Every TV maker has a half dozen silly, pointless features listed on the sides of their boxes, like “UltraClear5000” or “Motion Sense 3.0,” but don’t be fooled. As long as you have an idea of the size and resolution you want, along with a bit of common sense, you can confidently brush those goofy trademarks to the side and get to what’s important.
The same goes for the pricey accessories that will no doubt be pitched your way once you’ve found the TV of your dreams. Gold-plated HDMI cables aren’t any better than the $5 version you can get on Amazon, so don’t get talked into flashy upsells that won’t make a difference. Get in, pick a TV, and get out while you can!
Have questions? Be sure to ask away in the comments section below.