Price cuts on televisions are coming. Here’s the secret to getting the best deal

Whether in store or online, the TV buying season follows a regular pattern.

Geoffrey Morrison / CNET

It is an open secret in the television industry that prices follow a regular annual cycle. Prices go down every year, and knowing that this cycle can save you money or at least worry about getting ripped off. What’s the secret ? New televisions are announced at CES in January. They are not available then, however. There are often sales in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl in February, but these are for models from the previous year.

Current model year TVs start shipping in the spring and early summer (like now), and that’s when they’re most expensive. In other words, those chic 2021 TVs are costing more right now than they will be later in the year. There is sometimes a slight drop in prices in summer – especially during Prime Day. This year, it takes place on June 21 and 22, and the first offers on some models are already available.

Read more: Early Prime Day 2021 TV Deals: Save on Insignia, LG, TCL, Toshiba and Vizio

However, the biggest price drops usually hit in the fall and before the holidays. Black friday and Cyber ​​Monday often have the best deals, both on the cheap doorbuster models as well as the best televisions, and these prices can often be obtained throughout the month of December and the holidays. This brings us back to CES in January, and the cycle begins again.

So when is the best time to buy a new TV? It’s not so easy to say “when it’s the cheapest” because that’s often when new models are around the corner. Also, the cheapest TV might not be the best value. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Are you happy with what you have now?

Forget all the new technologies. If your TV works and you’re happy with it, keep it. Don’t feel any pressure to upgrade.

Modern televisions are, on average, brighter and have better picture quality than televisions from a few years ago. Unless you’re the kind of videophile who wants to tweak every setting and focus on slow and color accuracy, however, you probably don’t need a new TV.

The pressure to upgrade is pervasive in our tech culture, but TVs tend to last longer and be fully functional longer than most devices. They don’t have, for example, batteries that lose capacity like cell phones, or wires that wear out like headphones. A TV from five or even 10 years ago probably performs well, although it may not seem so good like the current 4K HDR TVs. So again, if it’s not a big deal for you, you can probably keep what you have for a few more years.

Read more: Best TVs for PS5 and Xbox Series X, Series S

This is even true when considering new consoles, the Playstation 5 and Xbox x series. If you have a PS4, Xbox One, or any console connected via HDMI, the new consoles should work fine. They might look better on a new TV, but they will always look great on yours.

If your TV is having issues or you just want something bigger, that’s another story. Newer televisions are much cheaper per inch than televisions of the past. You will be able to replace your current TV with something the same size, better looking, and cheaper than your old TV. Or you can pay the same amount as your old TV and get something much bigger.

Sales

The most important days for TV sales are, of course, Black friday and Cyber ​​Monday. There are always insanely inexpensive 4K TVs on offer. But that’s not the whole story.

First of all, the televisions that get the biggest discounts are usually either anonymous brands or low-end models from well-known brands. They’re fine if you just want a cheap TV, but they won’t deliver the picture quality of even a slightly higher-end model. The best TVs are also on sale, but the big discounts on these are less common.

Entrance of a Best Buy store during a day with light blue

TV sales take place all year round, but the Black Friday season enjoys the biggest discounts.

Roberto Machado Noa / Getty Images

Second, massive discounts on televisions are generally rare. It can be counterintuitive, but TVs usually don’t have much headroom. There’s not a lot of profit in a $ 500 TV. So, unless the store is trying to clear the stock, you shouldn’t expect a gigantic price drop, even during the sales. There are many great discounts available, they just won’t be “50% off” or the like, unless there is a specific reason why the model is getting such an extreme discount. Or it’s a doorbuster in limited quantities.

Third, most large companies do not allow stores to offer their own prices. This is called the UPP, or unilateral tariff policy. This means that a TV from that company will cost the same whether it’s on Amazon, Best Buy, or elsewhere. Well, anywhere else who wants to keep selling televisions from this company.

026-roku-tv

Most TV prices are set by the manufacturer, so they stay the same from store to store.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If that sounds sketchy it is, but that’s a topic for another article. The result is that there is usually no point in worrying about whether a store is going to have a sale. In most cases, either every store has a sale on this TV or none of them do. Now that TV could go on sale (everywhere) next week. Some stores offer price protection in case this happens. Some credit cards do this too. Amazon, it should be noted, does not offer price protection.

What about next year’s TV technology?

To put it succinctly, there is always something new around the corner. If this is your concern, it should reassure you that even if something new hits the market next year, it will be very expensive.

For example, MicroLED looks very promising, but you can buy a Porsche or two for the price of a MicroLED TV. It will be years before this is mainstream technology.

Mini LED, on the other hand, is available now. It’s a technology that promises near OLED image quality for less money. It is likely that we will see more brands with mini LEDs in the future.

osaka-with-miniled

On the left, the image as you would see it on a mini LED TV. On the right, an illustration of the mini-LED array on the back of the TV. With so many LEDs, the backlight has a greater “resolution”, so there may be finer distinctions between light and dark. Ideally, like OLED and microLED, would be per-pixel lighting, but the mini-LED is one step closer to that without the cost of the other two technologies.

Geoffrey Morrison / CNET

Deployment across the country is also NextGen Television, aka ATSC 3.0. This is free live 4K TV, and while it is moving pretty quickly and may already be available in your city. There are even a few models with integrated tuners which are available now. Don’t feel like you have to rush to upgrade or get those specific models, because in the worst case, you’ll be able to buy a cheap external tuner and hook it up to your TV.

There is also HDMI 2.1. While 2.1 has several new technologies which are great, it won’t make current TVs obsolete (unless it’s a current 8K TV, but that’s yet another story). As long as your current TV works with your current sources, you should be fine.

Very old TVs, over 10 years old, may have problems connecting to modern TVs Diffusion and the disk sources, but there is no real workaround for this. If your TV doesn’t work with a new Roku or Blu-ray player, you may need to upgrade if you want to use any of them.

So should you buy a new TV?

Here is the short version:

Get a new TV now if:

  • Your current TV is having issues or is too old to connect to a streaming service like Netflix.
  • You are ready to buy from a place that has a price match policy, in case there is a sale.
  • You want something bigger than what you have now.

Don’t buy a TV now if:

  • Your current television is working fine.
  • There is literally everything you need or want to spend money on.

If you’re in the mood for something new, but still on the fence, consider giving your TV a little sprucing up. If you have never changed the settings, it is easy to do and will probably make your TV look better than ever. It might set you back a bit.

And if you ultimately decide that, yes, you’re ready to buy a new TV now, we at CNET have it. guidelines and suggested 2021 models.


In addition to covering television and other display technology, Geoff Morrison organizes photo tours of museums and cool places around the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, aircraft cemeteries, etc.

You can follow his exploits on Instagram, YouTube and on his travel blog, BaldNomad. He’s also written a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, as well as a sequel.




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