With the volume of televisions available today, it’s no wonder consumers are confused over what’s a good deal and what isn’t. As retailers pushed mountains of sets throughout the holidays, you would think the best TV buys departed with the seasonal decorations.
Don’t worry. If you didn’t get your dream TV during the Christmas shopping hoopla, your missed opportunity might be to your benefit. Tap or click here to see why buying a TV over the holidays isn’t the best time to do so.
Between the varying makes, models, sizes and features, how can you be sure you purchase a quality television at a reasonable price? How can you compare models without the need of a Ph.D. in TV?
There are a few shopping tips that can help make sense of the jargon. There’s an identifier code that can provide a world of information about a set, called the stock keeping unit or SKU. The key to understanding this often complex string of numbers and letters is to decipher the code. We’re here to help you do just that.
Let’s start with the basics: Knowing when to shop.
Shop at the right time
While retailers offer plenty of bargains on TVs during the holidays, other occasions throughout the year, especially during Super Bowl season, President’s Day and Prime Day(s), may prove to be better times to buy.
No matter the sale or promo, unless you know what constitutes a reasonable price for a great television, you may find yourself overpaying for a second-rate set. But how can you tell what’s a good deal and what isn’t?
Take notice of the differences
Over time, gazing at TVs on display at your local retailer may have you thinking they are all the same. What many consumers don’t know is that television manufacturers build multiple lines of their products with slight differences between models.
It could be these subtleties that become a huge problem once you get your new television home. Tap or click to see the big mistake people make when buying a new TV, and to see the formula to avoid it.
As an example, take a quick look at the LG OLED65C8PUA compared to the LG OLED65C9PUA. While both are 65” mid-range 4K TVs and appear to be identical, the latter is the 2019 model that has a better picture quality (thanks to improvements to its display), than its predecessor.
Have realistic expectations
Don’t walk into a retailer and expect to purchase an 8K television with a 4K TV budget — at least not yet. While the prices continue to drop as newer models with greater features come to market, you need to ensure you are getting the best set that meets your wants and needs.
A few important questions to ask when shopping for a new set include:
- What is your budget?
- What size is appropriate for your viewing space?
- Will it work with your existing components or will you need to upgrade?
- Does it have features you will use?
Do your homework
Although you can browse through a TV showroom and ask several questions, without researching sets before you shop, you run the risk of coming up short of your dream screen.
Look to online reviews from well-known sites like Consumer Reports. Unlike many online publications, trusted sites test the product before making any recommendations. You can further study a particular television and its specs on the manufacturer’s website.
You know you can also count on Kim Komando to provide you with the latest news and trusted advice on everything tech, including TVs. Tap or click to learn how you can stay up to date with The Kim Komando Show.
While there are plenty of TV shopping tips, reading the SKU (pronounced “skew”) for a set will prove to be very helpful in discerning whether you are getting a quality television or one that’s outdated and mediocre.
Unlike the 12-digit UPC symbol that manufacturers in the U.S. and other countries use to identify, scan and track merchandise, an SKU is a numeric or alphanumeric code retailers utilize to track inventory and measure sales.
Each SKU assigned to a product is unique to the retailer and can help identify the item’s price, its options and the manufacturer. Break these codes down further into sections to find in-depth information about the product.
For televisions, the stock keeping unit will have three to five divisions, depending on the manufacturer. Once identified, you can determine many details about the TV, including its screen size, picture quality and if that particular set is exclusive to a particular store.
In general, SKUs pair with model numbers and they can be broken down into the following parts:
- Screen Size: The size, in inches, of the produce.
- Product Line: A set of numbers or letters indicating which series the product belongs to
- Generation: If there are several generations in a series, this number explains which generation this product belongs to
- Retailer Sub-Model: This is used if models are only sold from specific retailers.
- Other Variations: Some TVs are compatible with Roku TVs or are OLED or OLED. These specifications can be found in this section of the SKU.
- Extras: These additional numbers are used to broadly categorize thhe products, such as sales regions, and are not necessary for learning about the product’s specifications.
Here’s what SKUs look like for major TV brands:
Out of the major manufacturers, Hisense keeps its SKUs short and sweet. Even with few characters, as seen in this model, Hisense 65H9F, you can reveal in-depth details.
Looking at the model number, the 65 is the screen size in inches, the H reveals it works for Android TV, the 9 is the series number and the F indicates it is part of generation F, which was released in 2019.
For this TV, the remaining numbers in the SKU are extra fluff for manufacturer use.
LG typically creates long codes such as LG 75SM9970PUA . Although this looks like a bunch of gibberish, it contains invaluable information.
The 75 portion is the number of inches of this screen. The SM shows it’s a 2019 model, and the 9970 shows it’s the latest model. The PUA is extra you don’t need to worry about.
To keep it interesting, Samsung ensures its SKU is extra perplexing with a chain of alphanumeric characters. One look at Samsung’s QN65Q90RAFXZA , and you may feel confused; however, the details can be broken down.
The QN show it’s a QLED TV. The 65 is the screen size in inches. The Q90 is the most recent generation. It means it’s an LED-array-backlit quantum dot LCD TV with 8K UHD resolution. The R means it’s a 2019 model and the AFXZA is the extra fluff.
Although the code on a Sony set may not appear as complicated as its competitors, these few characters tell quite a bit.
The XBR shows it’s one of the high-end models. The 65 indicates the screen size and the A reveals it’s an OLED set. The 9 shows it’s part of the company’s high-end models and the G shows it’s a 2019 model.
TCL sets only require six digits for its model information. The first two numbers, 65, indicate screen size, and the R6 reveals it’s part of the 6-series. The 25 shows it’s the 2019 version.
Last, but not least, Vizio takes SKUs to a whole other level. While the code Vizio M657-G0 may not seem intimidating compared to those of LG or Samsung, these few characters signify a host of complex data.
The D indicates this TV is part of the M-series. The 65 is screen size and the 7 indicates the specific model. G0 is the generation, which in this case is from 2019.
With a combination of shopping tips and your SKU deciphering ability, you are ready to grab the best TV at the best price.