The art of choosing a new TV

The dead television

Since it’s January, when you’re paying for last December’s frivolity and are looking forward in sick fascination at the upcoming tax season, it’s time for your electronics to break down.

I mean, would they choose to fail in anticipation of Black Friday / Thanksgiving sales? Nah. Or, in time for the under-the-tree Christmas sales boom? Nope. Luckily my television went belly-up just before the final date in sales trifecta: the Super Bowl.

That leads to today’s posting: getting a new TV. 

My elderly (9 years) 32″ Samsung decided to start squealing and give me a green screen of death. It was time to invest in a new set.

That meant facing a maze of choices, only some of them technological. If you are thinking of getting a brand you know, think again. Things have changed in the television marketplace.

First, what are your priorities? I watch over-the-air television, DVDs and Netflix through Apple. Do I need a “Smart” television where I can download apps, surf the web, use as a giant computer monitor, or attach gaming systems? No, but many others do. The manufacturers are trying to be all things to all buyers which means you may get much more than you really want. Frankly, it’s hard to find a 4K television without all sorts of apps being bundled with it, so be prepared.

My first decision? Size matters  (according to trusted sources advising me on Facebook.) Most said, get “the bigger, the better.”

I decided what to do based on, 1) how I will watch the television, and 2) the size of the pace it will go in. (I am not buying furniture to suit the set.) That led to figuring out 49″/50″/maybe 55″ is best for me. The point is to choose the right size for your planned viewing or gaming pleasure. Don’t buy something, then try to plan around it.

I wanted to make sure my current components would work. That meant taking a picture of the back connections so the new machine would also have them. I give kudos to the Sony representative who showed me the back of their set to make sure I could attach the cords.

Component connections

If you don’t have cable or are cutting your cable, you should look into whether the set takes an over-the-air antenna or has a built-in antenna. I found the easiest way of finding this answer was in the comments on where other buyers had asked this question, and gotten answers. Manufacturers don’t mention it.

So where are we? 49/50″ with 4K / UHD. So far, so good.

These sizes are the low end of UHD / 4K televisions according to a couple of salesmen. So, do you choose 1080p, or the upscale 4k / UHD. What is the advantage of 4K and UHD? Beautiful deep blacks and more vivid colors. If you can afford to get it, go ahead. I made that decision which means a higher price.

There are Samsung, Sony, Hisense, LG and Sharp. I currently own an elderly Sharp which I love. However doing my Internet legwork I discover there’s 2017 controversy in the Sharp world. Basically, it scared me off until they figure it out. I don’t know Hisense so I am avoiding it.

As I was perusing the array of sets at Best Buy, I fell in love with Sony. The television’s colors were unbelievable. The pictures glowed. The glass fronts were easy to clean. I was sold. But… I remembered the Sony computer monitor I used to have but (reluctantly) got rid of because of reflections. Placement is important. My living room has lots of light.

So, I walked away from Sony to find a television screen that has a matte or “anti-glare” finish (like my current tv.) I may lose the vivid colors but I will be able to see them. I then discovered that Sony does have “anti-glare” for their larger sets. It’s an additional cost. Hmm. No, it’s too big for the spot. Move on.

A pleasant surprise is that most of the new televisions are lightweight. My deceased 32″ Samsung was heavy. The new Sony 50″ was light, about 25 lbs.

Maybe not last, but important, is price. I discovered that if you’re buying in the “sale season”, the prices of different brands at my size aren’t that different from each other. Look for bargains, online and in stores.

Anyone who hasn’t been shopping with intent to buy a television might be totally overwhelmed at the choices hanging on the walls at Best Buy. I admit that it took numerous trips to understand all the nomenclature.

In November 2017 Consumer Reports did their annual survey. The top ones for my 50″ size were Samsung and LG after I weeded out Sony (sob).

So, now you’ve made some basic decisions, where do you go to buy it? Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy aren’t your only choices. If you have memberships in warehouse stores, then you might go to Costco (which won’t give you a price online unless you’re a member. Frankly, if I was given a price and I wanted it, I’ll join Costco. As it is, I walked away.) 

Then you have to get it home. The point here is make a decision on how you’re going to get your new television into your residence. If it’s easy for you to bring it home in your car, unpack it, put it on the stand and into place, then plan for that. If you need to have it delivered, you might want buy from or some other choice. Or, you can get Best Buy to deliver it and set it up for you. Maybe even haul away the carcass of the old television. Some cable systems might schedule set-up visits for you.

Once you have the new television home, and set up, you might want to go back to the online comments sections to find how to make the picture what you really want. Gamers want other features than the television-only viewer. If you think what to buy was a cornucopia of decisions, then decided to do with your new “smart” television is going to be worse.

At the end of the day, fulfilling the thought, “I need a new television” isn’t really easy to make any more. You have many decisions to make and many choices after that.

I’ll tell you how it works out.

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2 Responses to The art of choosing a new TV

  1. Sharon says:

    I have Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club memberships if you want me to check prices for you there. — Smap


  2. Pingback: And… we’ve achieved a new TV | A Walker in Many Worlds

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