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How to bag a bargain TV

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

woman_choosing_a_tv_in_store
Last updated: 28 November 2019

CHOICE testing of TVs throughout 2019 has uncovered a great variety of fantastic TVs, as well as some duds. Almost all the TVs we tested were not only smarter but also started integrating more effectively into the smart home environment.

With the holiday sales season heating up, there are now some great bargains to be had on 2019 models and even some very good 2018 models that TV companies save for the big sales season. Some of the 2019 models are even run out models, (if you see 'run out' in a promotion, it means the store is running out of stock and won't be replaced), even though they've only been available in the retail stores for a few months.

When are new TVs on sale?

  • The latest range of 2019 LG and Samsung TVs for sale were released in early April and May with other models being released up until August, so you should be able to find Samsung and LG TVs released early in 2019 for a bargain leading up to Christmas and in the summer holiday sales.
  • Sony's latest and greatest started appearing during the last EOFY sales, with new 2019 models arriving all the way up till September. So for Sony, expect some great deals on TVs that officially were released in 2018.
  • Most of the Panasonic 2019 TVs were released in the latter half of the year so you may not find as many of the latest Panasonic TVs at a bargain price. But there are always exceptions to the rule – the Panasonic TH-75GX880A, for example, is a 2019 TV that we wanted to buy for a 75-inch TV test in November, and our buyers were told that it was now a discontinued model! Priced at $5000 when released earlier in the year, it was available for a short time for under $3000.

CHOICE tip: Brands that released their TVs early in 2019, such as LG and Samsung, may be showing up with discounted prices, so keep an eye out for these models in the sales.

How to get the best deal on a TV

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

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

1. Using our reviews

  • 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 Black Friday and holiday sales at a drastically reduced price.
  • Our latest review also includes a filter called Clearance price. This will show you TVs released earlier in the year, 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.
LG-OLED55B8STB

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

2. Using a TV's product code

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.

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.

Sony-KD-55A9F

The Sony-KD-55A9F released late in 2018 will be available for some time yet, as the latest premium Sony TVs appeared late in 2019.

Tips for your new 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.

resolution_chart

TV resolutions compared. 8K isn't really in the consumer space right now, but a couple of very expensive TVs with support for 8K are now available.

High-res options

4K, UHD and 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.

What do all these numbers and letters mean?

  • SD is the format you're watching when catching old Friends' reruns on TV and DVD movies.
  • Full HD is High Definition broadcast TV (TV shows made in the last few years) and Blu-ray movies on disc.
  • 4K/UHD (Ultra High Definition) / SUHD (Super UHD) is the format used for the latest blockbuster movies streamed on Netflix or a 4K Blu-ray disc, which look great on a 65-inch display TV and won't be noticed on a 32-inch display TV.

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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