The Black Friday ads are blaring out the bargains and new televisions are some of the biggest sales showstoppers of the day. You will see a lot of TV technology buzzwords, but the loudest this year is going to be “4K,” a reference to high resolution sets that promise to deliver better picture quality than previous technologies.
But not all 4K TVs are created equal, so here’s what you need to know before buying one on Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season.
Bargain vs. value
Cheap and good don’t always go together. A $300 4K television isn’t a bargain if the picture quality is poor or if it’s missing features that are important to you. The bottom end of the price range might mean putting up with a lack of smart TV features or an inconvenient shortage of HDMI ports. This may be OK with you if you just need a cheap set to go into the guest bedroom, but you might want to look into a higher-end set for your main TV.
HDR stands for “high dynamic range.” When it comes to TVs, HDR is meant to deliver brighter whites, darker blacks, and a wider range of colors for a better viewing experience. To take advantage of it, the television show or movie you’re watching also needs to be in HDR. To be ready for a future with more HDR content, you will want an HDR TV so you won't feel compelled to upgrade just a couple years from now.
Check that Black Friday deal you’re eyeing and make sure the set has HDR support, which may be listed as HDR10, Dolby Vision, or High Dynamic Range. Many lower-end 4K sets won’t have true HDR, which is a big compromise to make even if you’re saving some bucks. Take a close look at the spec sheet so you know what you're getting.
Count the HDMI ports
You have an Amazon Fire TV Stick, a Chromecast, an HDR Blu-ray player, and an Apple TV, so you’re going to need plenty of HDMI ports to plug them all in. Check the specs on that bargain TV to see if it will handle all your gadgets, or if you will have to invest in an HDMI switch box so you don’t have to plug and unplug your different devices.
Off-brands can be right on
You’ve heard of Samsung, Sony, and LG, but you might not be as familiar with lesser-known brands like Vizio and TCL. You don’t have to have a famous name to get a fabulous television, so be open to smaller brands with big discounts on Black Friday and beyond. As usual, check reviews, compare tech specs, and see if the warranty coverage compares well to that of the bigger brands.
Eye on the size
Gigantic 4K TVs are cheaper than ever this year. It may be tempting to buy the absolute biggest 4K set you can get your hands on, but you don’t want to overwhelm your living room and have to buy a completely new media stand just to hold your bargain TV. Take a few measurements ahead of Black Friday so you know the sweet spot for your space.
Don’t fret if your dream TV deal doesn’t materialize on Black Friday. The holiday sales season is still underway and Cyber Monday is coming up, so keep an eye out for online deals going forward.
Beware of buying these items on Black Friday
The biggest sales day of the year won’t necessarily pay off if you’re looking to buy a high-end laptop, winter clothing, or certain other items.