How to bag a bargain TV


Knowing the numbers can help you get a television for less.

Getting a good deal in the EOFY sales


CHOICE is just starting to test the latest TVs for 2019 and the range promises to be even better than last year, with TVs not only getting smarter but also integrating into the smart home environment.

However don't expect to see all of the TVs that Samsung, LG, HiSense, Sony and Panasonic are advertising straight away. Many of the 2019 models won't appear in the retail stores until later in the year, sometimes as late as August or September for Sony or Panasonic models.

When are new TVs released?

  • The latest range of 2019 LG and Samsung TVs have already started to arrive with new models being released up until August.
  • Sony's latest and greatest will only just start appearing during the EOFY sales, with new 2019 models arriving all the way up till the end of the year.
  • Panasonic's models will arrive in the latter half of 2019 with no new models till June and releases until the lead-up to Christmas.

Tip: Brands that released their TVs early in 2018, such as LG and Samsung, may be showing up with discounted prices so keep a look out for these models in the sales.

How to get the best deal

If you're looking for a good price on your next TV, the best option might be to consider a model released in 2018, as retailers often knock a chunk off the ticket price in much the same way as car dealers do for previous year models.

The trick is to know which TVs are 2019 releases and which ones are the older stock from 2018 or even earlier.

Interested in browsing the current range first? Our TV reviews compare over 60 models from Sony, LG, Samsung, Panasonic and more.

Search tips: 

  • Our TV reviews include older models that are listed as discontinued as they become difficult to find, but sometimes these models suddenly reappear in the EOFY sales at a drastically reduced price.
  • Our latest review also includes a filter called Clearance price. This will show you TVs released in 2018, and unlike the models marked as discontinued, they should still be readily available. The clearance price is not the recommended retail price we normally show but the price we found for the TV more recently. These reductions are at least 50% off the retail price – sometimes more than $2000.

How to tell a new TV from an older model

You'll notice some of the major retailers will be promoting very good deals on specific TVs from now through to August, often with stacks of large screen TVs piled up when you walk into the store. Most of these TVs are likely to be 2018 models and maybe even the occasional 2017 model.

But if you want to get a good deal on a 2018 model or drive a hard bargain with the salesperson on a 2019 model, how can you find out the age of the TV? The secret is knowing what the product codes for each TV really mean.

The LG OLED55B8STB is probably the best value TV going around, released late last year.

How to read a TV's product code

A TV's product code can tell you all about its size and specifications, but in particular it'll tell you what year it was released.

There are two code systems to watch out for with LG TVs, the LCD range and the OLED range.

For LG LCD TVs:

  • The second letter in the product code indicates the release date. So for the LG 55SM8600PTA, indicates a 2019 model. Also, the S in the code means Super UHD while U means UHD resolution. The number at the beginning of the code indicates the diagonal display size in inches so this TV is a 55-inch model.
  •  A 2018 model will have the letter K such as LG 55SK8500PTA. 
  • A 2017 TV will have the letter J, such as LG 55SJ850T. 
  • Avoid codes with the letters HF or G (unless the TVs are being given away) as these are from 2016 or older.

For LG OLED TVs:

  • The first two numbers in the product code indicate the display size in inches, and the last number indicates the year of release. So LG OLED65E9PTA means that it's a 65-inch OLED TV and a 2019 model.
  • The letter between the numbers for the display size and year of release indicates its price position in the range. The C9 series is the most affordable, the E9 is mid-price and the W9 range is priced from $10,000 to $20,000 and can be placed flat on the wall.

Tip: Expect to see some substantial LG OLED bargains leading up to the EOFY particularly a new B8 series which performed very well in our latest test and was released in Australia very late in 2018.

The Samsung TV offerings include a QLED TV range (which is Samsung's answer to the OLED TV) and an LCD range.

For the 2019 QLED range: 

  • The product code should show a QA followed by the screen size in inches and a single number to show the position in the range. 
  • For example, the Samsung QA65Q80RAWXXY is a 65-inch QLED TV in the mid range series 80R (the range works down through series 900R 8K, 90R, 80R, 75R and 60R).  

For the LCD TV range:

  • The first number indicates the size of the TV in inches, and is followed by a letter indicating the release date. 
  • means it's a 2019 model. So the Samsung UA65RU8000WXXY is a 65-inch display from 2019.
  • The 8000 series denotes the premium range, while the 7100 series is entry-level.
  • 2018 models generally have an N after the display size number, e.g. Samsung UA55NU7000. 
  • If you see a Samsung TV in store with an M after the display size, then it's a 2017 model and you should be able to negotiate a much lower price.

Panasonic indicates the release year by the first letter after the display size, with F being a 2018 model (e.g. Panasonic TH-55FX700A) and E indicating a 2017 model (e.g. Panasonic TH-65EX780A). As of late April 2019, we still have not heard from Panasonic about their model releases for this year and will provide an update as soon as the company reveals their model lineup for 2019.

  • The numbers in the series indicate the increase in quality and price from the lowest 32-inch TH32F400A through to the FS500A series, FX600A series and so on up to the top of the line 4K FX800 series with all the bells and whistles.
  • Panasonic also have two OLED models (FZ1000U and FZ950U) at 55 or 65 inches.
  • If the Panasonic TV you're looking at has an E after the display size number, tell the salesperson you know it's a 2017 model and you want a much better deal. 
  • If it has a D after the the display size, avoid it unless you're getting a super discount as it's a 2016 model.

The Sony releases for 2019 won't start appearing in stores until June, so expect to see 2018 models on the shop floor until well into 2019. 

  • When the 2019 models do appear, the code will end with a G (Sony KD-65X9500G) for 2019.
  • If the code ends with an F (Sony KD-65X9000F) then it's the latest model for 2018.
  • If the code ends with a D (Sony KD-55X8500D) it's technically an early 2017 model and you should be asking for a much lower price or avoiding it altogether.

Hisense continues to offer good value options but has also improved on its quality with a couple of recommended models in 2018. Although we haven't seen this year's models in the CHOICE labs yet, 2019 should see further improvements in quality.

  • The first letter of the TV's code will determine the year; 2018 Hisense models have a P (55PX, 65P8, 43P6 etc.).
  • The Hisense range for 2019 will generally have the letter R
  • The first number indicates the size of the screen. The last number is an indication of quality or features. So the 75R9 is the top of the line 75-inch model costing several thousand dollars while the 43R6 is the entry-level 43-inch TV you would put in the kids' room or study.
  • Some models in the latest range include Google Assistant voice control. 
  • The top-of-the-line R9 and R8 series use Quantum Dot Technology which is Hisense's answer to LG's OLED TVs.
The Sony-KD-55A9F released late in 2018 will be available for some time yet, as the latest premium Sony TVs won't be appearing till August or September 2019.

Tips for your new smart TV

TVs are getting smarter

One of the biggest changes we're seeing with 2019 models is the move from a smart TV to a TV that's a smart hub.

Unlike smart TVs that simply allow you to watch Netflix or Stan, the latest TVs are more likely to interact with other smart devices on your home network, as well as using voice assistants such as Google or Amazon Alexa. Plus, they can answer queries about the weather, turn on your air conditioner, talk to your fridge and order more milk, and turn off the lights when you go to bed.

Streaming

Keep track of your streaming subscriptions. Signing up for the 30-day free trials with Netflix, Stan and other streaming services may sound great, but if you don't cancel them you could easily end up spending more than $50 a month once the free trial period is over.

High-res options

4K/UHD/SUHD are all terms to describe the next top option in TV resolution: 3440 x 2160 pixels. 

By contrast, a Full HD TV has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. 

TV resolutions compared. 8K isn't really in the consumer space right now, but a couple of very expensive TVs with support for 8K will be hitting the shops in 2019.

Is your lounge room big enough for your big TV?

It's not just a question of 'will it fit?'. You should also consider the optimum viewing distance, as sitting too close to a big screen can be quite uncomfortable.

  • A 127cm (50") TV showing HD video should deliver its best viewing experience when you're sitting around two metres from the screen. If you sit closer, you may see the individual pixels (depending on the quality of your eyesight).
  • If your room size forces you to sit closer, or if you really want a larger TV, then a 4K TV may be a good option to avoid that pixilation. Although you'll need to be watching 4K video for the best quality picture (and for now most content is still in HD or even SD).

What is HDR?

High dynamic range (HDR) is all about increasing the range of brightness in images to boost contrast between the whitest and the blackest elements. This technology essentially expands the TV's colour palette by displaying high levels of contrast between bright and dark colour. Almost all 4K TVs support HDR, and you'll find plenty of HDR-compatible movies and TV shows on disc and via streaming services. When you buy your TV, ask the salesperson if HDR is on by default or whether you'll need to activate it. Some brands require you to turn it on for each HDMI port. Once activated, it should automatically switch on and off when you switch between HDR and non-HDR video and games.


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