You would think that buying a TV would be relatively easy. You comb through all the models online to find the one with the features you want: Can you watch Netflix on it? Check. High definition picture? Sounds like a good pick.
But as it turns out, there are a lot of other factors to consider. And if you don't speak the lingo, all the techie terms like OLED, UHD and 1080p can start to sound like gibberish. But a TV is a big investment, so you don't just want any model — you want to make sure that the one you're buying is actually the right one for you.
That's why we turned to Carl Prouty, a tech expert at the independent electronic and appliance retailer Abt Electronics. He walked us through some of the most important things to keep in mind when shopping for a TV, and all the terms that you should know.
How much does a typical TV cost?
When shopping for a TV, the most important thing to think about is your budget, Prouty said. TVs can range anywhere from less than $150 to more than $10,000, depending on the model, size and its features. But thankfully, recent developments have made it easier to get a good option for a low price. "You get a lot more for your money now than you did say five years ago, even with inflation being what it has been," Prouty said. For example, now, he said that you can get a 65-inch TV that has a good quality picture for $600 to $700. However, if you want something cheaper, you may have to sacrifice some features.
What size TV should I get?
When it comes to size, you want to think about the amount of space that you have and where you want to put it. You typically wouldn't put a 32-inch TV in your family room, Prouty said, as those tend to be more for offices or bedrooms. In family rooms, 65-inches is the most common size, he said, but "there are a lot of people buying 75-inch TVs now because of how reasonable the prices are."
Another thing: "The TV size is a diagonal measurement," he said. "Say you're buying a 65-inch TV, 65 inches is the diagonal [measurement] from corner to corner, so it's not going to be as wide." While that doesn't matter quite as much for open spaces, if you are putting your TV in an enclosed stand, you want to look at the actual device measurements (which you can typically find listed).
What about resolution?
Resolution refers to the number of pixels on the screen, Prouty said. TVs today come in one of four resolutions: 720p (HD), 1080p (Full HD), 4K UHD and 8K UHD. "The bigger the TV, the higher you want the resolution to be because the pixels get bigger as the TV gets bigger," Prouty said. "You want more pixels on a bigger screen so that they remain smaller." While some smaller models might tout a high resolution, it's not actually needed. "On a 32-inch TV, you can't tell the difference between a 720p and a 4K TV," he said.
TVs that are 8K are emerging in the space, and while they might sound appealing (even more pixels!), the models aren't necessarily worth their high price tag yet. "Those TVs are designed with something called upscaling in mind," Prouty said. "So it's taking a 4K picture or a 1080p picture — a lower resolution picture — and basically filling in information to make it 8K, to make it look better. Which works really well. But are you going to be able to tell a difference right now? Probably not a whole lot."
Is OLED worth it?
Short answer: If you're looking for the best picture quality possible, then yes. Terms like OLED, LED and QLED refer to the lighting of the TV. A typical LED TV features a lot of lights, placed either behind the screen or around the perimeter of the screen. An OLED, on the other hand, has an individual light behind each pixel, which Prouty said gives you "really deep blacks" and "really natural looking colors" that you won't get with other versions. That being said, they're not as bright. "They can't display as bright of a picture as an LED TV," he said. "So if it's going in a room where there's the potential to have the sun shining directly on the picture OLED is not always going to be the best choice for that type of situation."
TV deals to shop now
Now that you hopefully have a better idea of which model will work best for your space, it's time to make the purchase. Thankfully, ahead of Labor Day weekend, there are a number of deals on popular TVs, so you can save on an upgrade. Here, 9 deals to shop now.
Looking for a smaller model to fit your space? This 32-inch TV has more than 16,000 five-star ratings from shoppers who say that it has "great picture" quality and is "very easy to set up and use."
You can score more than 30% off this 4K LED smart TV. The device has Alexa built-in, so you can use your voice to search for shows or pull up a streaming app. Models range in size from 43 to 78-inches and all of them are on sale on Amazon, so you can find the perfect option for your space for a discount.
Don't miss your chance to score this bestselling TV for 50% off! It has a ton of must-have features including a 4K Ultra HD display, voice control capabilities and Auto Game Mode for video game lovers.
Watch all your favorite movies and TV shows on a big screen with this 75-inch LED Ultra-HD smart TV. It's currently marked down to less than $900.
Being as in-demand as they are, a typical OLED TV might run you upwards of $1,000. But right now, you can get this version from Sony for a steep discount at multiple retailers. The 48-inch display is the perfect size for bedrooms or smaller living spaces. It's said to bring vibrant colors and peak brightness to your watching experience.
This OLED option from LG is currently marked down by more than $900 ahead of the holiday weekend. According to the company, it features the brand's best processor, which uses algorithms to analyze and optimize content — so you get quality picture and sound.
If you're looking for a smaller option to fit in a kid's room, office or kitchen, Amazon shoppers love this one. "This is the second one of this exact same tv that we have bought!" one reviewer wrote. "We love it that much! We bought one for our son’s room about a year ago, and it’s the perfect size for a bedroom tv! Plus all the smart features are all set up and so easy to use! We decided to buy one for our room too and it’s perfect!"
Samsung's TVs are a popular pick, and you can get this device from the brand for more than $500 off. According to the brand, the TV was "inspired by a laser beam," so it has an ultra-thin side profile and a small rim, which give it an overall sleek look.
Named one of the best 65-inch TVs under $1,000 by Consumer Reports, this option from Hisense is said to deliver bold colors, high contrast and an exceptionally clear picture. The best part? You can get it for less than $750 right now.