Does buying a big screen TV have to be this draining
November 5, 2016 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Does buying a big screen TV have to be as draining - emotionally, chronologically, financially - as it seems?

We're thinking about getting a new tv as the 15 year old rear-projection model we have now seems to be on its last legs. It's about 55" wide and we want to replace it with another one of that size or maybe a little larger. I'm starting to look online at articles & reviews & it seems like the quality & features are all over the place. Are we going to wind up with one that for some reason automatically dims the screen to make it unwatchable? Are we going to wind up with one that has terrible sound quality? Do I have to be $2,000 poorer? I don't want to be.What should we do with the old one as it will probably still be functional? Just wait til it craps out completely? Should we wait for Black Friday? I read that was a scam though?

Last time we bought a tv was a year ago; it was great. Walked into Best Buy, picked out the one with the right dimensions, and walked out. It was like a 30-40" tv and I think it was like $200 or something. Those dimensions were a lot smaller though and the financial stakes were lower. Can we do that again this time?
posted by bleep to Technology (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
No, of course it doesn't have to be a pain. I replaced a 55"ish projection TV a few years ago by walking into Costco and buying one that was in my price range and would fit in the available space. I gave features, brand reputation ans everything else zero thought. It's a perfectly nice Vizio and we couldn't be happier with and it cost nowhere near $2000. It was more like $700. Relax, don't overthink it, they're commodities and all basically identical.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:37 PM on November 5, 2016 [20 favorites]

Do you have a friend who has a TV you like? Can you buy that model?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:49 PM on November 5, 2016

Same here - Costco 55" Vizio. It is just as good as our two 32" Costco Vizios, and the 2 28" Vizios we use as monitors.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:50 PM on November 5, 2016 [6 favorites]

Don't wait for Black Friday. They put the TVs on sale that they want to clear out. Plus, you don't want to deal with the hassle of waiting on line and then carrying a 55" TV on that crazy day.

Review website The Wirecutter is good for electronics, but I used a new-ish review site called Rtings when I bought my parents their TV. Here's their section on 55" TVs. I like Samsung as a brand (well, not for phones or washing machines, but I've had good luck with their TVs.) I'd look at that Samsung UN55KS8000 they recommend ($1000) or the Vizio M55-D0 ($800). Each review has their recommended screen settings on a tab near the top. Either while likely suit you well, I'll just mention that my parents' Samsung finds more TV channels than their Vizio.

If you can, I'd see if I could find an e-waste site that will take the old TV so it doesn't end up in a landfill.
posted by bluecore at 8:53 PM on November 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Do some research in advance. We found out that yeah, buying a TV today is different from 20 years ago because there are so many options. However, there are still many many in a low price range. Here's what you need to determine:

-Do you just want regular cable/broadcast/antenna TV? Or do you want a "Smart TV," which connects via your Wi-Fi to the internet and has an interface a lot like a phone, with apps, that lets you connect to YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc? We opted for the latter, so we could be "cord cutters" and stop buying cable TV packages.
-If you opt for a Smart TV, you want to consider things like memory and processing speed. Just like a phone, the more memory, the more apps the TV can hold. The faster processing speed, the faster it can load up apps and switch between functions.
-How big a TV do you want? Size is the biggest determing factor of cost.
-Do you care about resolution? How much do you care?
-How much do you care about audio quality? People told us OMG, you must get speakers because the TV sound is for shit.'s good enough for us. Glad we didn't splurge on speakers.

We ended up getting a 42" Smart TV with resolution and audio we think are fine for about $350. Just go on in and start looking at the models. You definitely don't need to spend $2000. Also, these things are always going on different kinds of sales, so start keeping your eyes out for holiday deals.
posted by Miko at 8:59 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I will note that the "smart" features on our Vizios are pretty awful - sluggish apps, bad wifi connectivity. But since we own an XBOX360, BluRay player with apps, AppleTV, Roku stick, and multiple iOS devices with hasn't really bothered us.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:13 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Really don't want a smart tv - we have a roku and cable and have heard nothing but bad things about smart tvs. I haven't seen any non-smart tv's for sale though :(
posted by bleep at 9:15 PM on November 5, 2016

I walked into Costco and bought an HD TV. It's been perfectly functional.

(I am the type to drive myself nuts with research, usually.)
posted by wintersweet at 9:16 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a smart TV and the "smart" aspect of it is truly awful. Fortunately, you don't have to use those features if you don't want to. I'm assuming most smart TVs are like that.

The only stipulation I have when buying a TV, other than size and resolution, is that it has to get at least 4 stars on Amazon. That's never failed me.
posted by blackzinfandel at 9:26 PM on November 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I bought a 50" refurbished Vizio Smart TV on Woot for like $425 a few years ago. It's great. My only complaint is not enough inputs but I've worked around that. (It's not specific to that TV - we have lots of devices.)

You don't have to NOT get a smart TV - you just don't use the "smart" part. It's still a TV. You don't need to do anything other than plug in your other stuff and turn the power on - like any other TV. (And most Smart TV software doesn't get updates like separate devices do.)

So just check reviews for the visual and physical quality of the TV - but most TVs now are pretty good.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:40 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a person who normally drives himself insane on research, I've learned to trust The Wirecutter. It's like having a team of people to do all that research for me and just TELL ME what to buy. It's incredibly liberating.

My current TV is a Panasonic 55" that they (and, for that matter, a ton of other websites) recommended a few years ago as the best TV to get (FWIW, the VT60). It was the last plasma Panasonic ever made, and continued to be the reference against which TVs were compared up until 1-2 years ago. Last year, we needed to buy a couple of 55" TVs for my business. I went to The Wirecutter again and got their then-current recommendation (still on the market, and still highly rated), a Samsung 4K TV, the model number of which I don't remember offhand, but it's often shortened to "the U65." I think.

I've also purchased a number of other electronics with The Wirecutter's recommendation, and have been extremely happy with every single one of them. They haven't failed me a single time — and I am a PICKY bastard, ESPECIALLY when it comes to electronics.

Anyway, The Wirecutter. You'll thank me.
posted by CommonSense at 9:46 PM on November 5, 2016 [8 favorites]

I am the type who will research a large purchase to death and have, in the past, spent an inordinate amount of time researching tvs, but that's completely unnecessary these days. Like monitors, most are using the same panels inside, so basically you can just hit a few reliable online sites for firsthand customer experiences. I like the Wirecutter and also HardOCP's forums for this kind of thing because they're a bit more anal about display quality, as I am, and they discuss a wide range of models. You're also more apt to get honest feedback at HardOCP, as opposed to Amazon, which is rife with astroturfers and low quality reviews ("The package had a dent on it so I haven't decided whether to keep the tv or send it back; one star."). Amazon also has a nasty habit of combining reviews for different models (same manufacturer) and posting the reviews under each. It's infuriating and a waste of time.

I usually try to buy electronics at Costco or Best Buy (if they have what I want), but the last tv I bought at Costco (a Vizio that looked good in the store) was really washed out and generally blah after I set it up and tweaked it at home. I returned it the next day and lucked out on a clearance sale at Sears, believe it or not, where I bought a fantastic tv for $300.00 less. They just happened to be clearing out the previous season's models. There is no way you need to pay anywhere near $2000. for a great tv these days; prices have come down a lot.

So my advice, do a bit of online research at a few trusted sites, figure out what you want, call around to see who has it locally and buy it. Buying large items online can be risky because if they're damaged or don't live up to expectation, you can get stuck paying return shipping. Also keep in mind, most local places like Best Buy and Sears pricematch Amazon and other major online retailers (not 3rd party sellers though), so make sure to bring a current printout of the model you want when you're shopping. Good luck!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:58 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like Samsung for TVs and have bought them at Costco and Sam's Club. Low stress. Good tvs.
posted by cecic at 10:25 PM on November 5, 2016

I got a 47" LG 3Dtv (love it, super fun for video games) off craigslist, brand new, delivered, for $400. Worth checking...I believe that you can sort for screen size.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:35 PM on November 5, 2016

I literally bought the cheapest 55" from a brand I had actually heard of that i could find at best buy (which was a Toshiba for $400). No skart TV features whtsoever. I honestly spent more time researching and picking a mount to hang it on my wall than I did the TV itself. A year later it's still working perfectly fine.

Don't worry, you'll be just fine. Nth-ing the Wirecutter.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:11 PM on November 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, don't let yourself be lured into going fancier when the tvs are side-by-side in Best Buy or Costco. If you're at least twice as old as your last TV, then your vision is probably the limiting factor, not the screen. I was almost tempted to upgrade to a more expensive tv in person, and then I remembered that I could barely read the model number on the old one.
posted by mercredi at 2:34 AM on November 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

60" $600 on Amazon, non smart TV. You know what size you want, you know what features you want. You can go to a store and deal with a salesperson who knows nothing and look at TVs all set to the 'store setting' or you can do five minutes of on line research, click a button and the UPS guy will bring it to your house. Then you can go find something fun to do.
posted by fixedgear at 6:12 AM on November 6, 2016

Seconding Rtings. This link goes to their top-level TV section. Either start from a fixed price point, or decide how high on the new-tech curves (resolution {4K, 1080}, color {LED, OLED}) you want to jump in at.

Or just walk into Costo or Sam's and buy one you like. Unless a lot has changed in the manufacturing of the panels, there's a large jump in the price-per-inch costs once you go above 55" (i.e. you can find great deals on 55s, but will pay a premium to go bigger).

This time last year I went from a "55 class" Sony projection to a Vizio M60 and am very happy. I did my research and was ready to jump on a Black Friday deal. You should probably plan on getting a sound bar or system other than the built-in speakers. I got a Vizio that links to the TV so the control is integrated.
posted by achrise at 7:04 AM on November 6, 2016

Nthing the recommendations for Vizio. I've had two of them, including a 55" UDTV bought last winter, and I've been as pleased as punch. If you have a Roku or Chromecast you should be all set for apps.

My Panasonic plasma, bought a few years ago, was a different story: it was Removed from my home by thieves in 2011 and after the initial shock wore off, I didn't miss it.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:23 AM on November 6, 2016

One thing that I had to used to as I got older was the fact that you can buy midlevel to cheap electronics (TV/computer/monitors/phone), then get a new one 3-5 years later that is TONS better. Don't think of those things as investments, and for god's sake don't buy the newest and most expensive.

I've had LG, Samsung, Toshiba - all great and all purchased within 10 minutes of walking in the store. Happy with all.
posted by Sweet Dee Kat at 10:49 AM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I went to the store with a specific model in mind and then did a side-by-side of the picture quality of comparable models. I don't see why this has to be any different than your other purchase. And as for Wirecutter, while I love it too I think it leans toward higher end/more expensive models of whatever product it's reviewing. I wouldn't use them for a TV. The side-by-side at the store has always served me best.
posted by good lorneing at 11:30 AM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Looks like others have covered the buying of the new one.
For the removal of the old one if you buy it through Best Buy and have it delivered they will take the old one away. If not give 800-GOT-JUNK a try. I had them take away a similar size tv and it couldn't have been easier. They'll recycle it at the very least and if it's working I think they'll resell it somehow.
posted by bowmaniac at 1:43 PM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing the wirecutter for this and just about anything else where I'm not an expert in a field, I want a good [fill in widget], and I don't want to spend hours researching what seem like endless options.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:45 AM on November 7, 2016

« Older Mirror wall, minus the wall   |   Need Advice for To-Do Apps, Life Management Tools... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.