6 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a 4K TV On Or After Black Friday
Stephan Jukic – November 23, 2017
Black Friday and the days leading up to it are genuine opportunities for some major and unique discounts on both 4K HDR TVs and a whole pile of other electronics. Yes, a lot of the deals being found aren’t all that great at a closer look are more fluff than real value when you take a closer look but among them there are many sincerely excellent gems for hacking dozens to hundreds of dollars off of some of the best consumer electronics made this year. We’ve covered several of these particularly solid discount deals for this week’s shopping session and we’re going to be delivering many more leading into Cyber Monday
In this post however, we’re taking a step back and giving you a more practical look at Black Friday shopping with several extremely crucial key points that you absolutely should keep in mind before you press that “add to cart” button or pull out your money at an in-store location. The following buying tips apply to any TV purchase you might make this week from any retailer and some of them even apply to other electronics, so we recommend keeping them in mind regardless of what you’re going to be buying.
Refurbished vs. New 4K TVs
First and absolute most important is making sure you’re getting exactly the product you want in the best possible condition it can have, and with maximal warranty protection. This almost always means going for a brand new TV even if it’s still slightly on the pricey side after any Black Friday or Cyber Monday discounts you’re seeing for it. The thing here is that many online and offline retailers come out with what seem to be even more awesome discounts for so-called refurbished versions of today’s newest and best-selling 4K HDR TVs. These often beat even the best Black Friday discounts you’ve seen for factory models of the same products but they might have a problem:
Yes, these sound good but you need to be extremely careful about going for them. In many cases, refurbished means inferior replacement components and in the worst cases it can even mean no warranty or extremely limited warranty protection. The screens or other parts on such TVs may not be original factory versions and as a result their actual performance is much weaker than it should be. If they break down later or simply disappoint, that possible lack of warranty coverage which all new televisions do come with could bite you badly. We’ve written a whole previous post on this subject and here we repeat the essentials of our argument again. Some refurbished 4K TVs can indeed be great and honest deals, but don’t get blinded by their low prices either because the risk of problems is much higher than the shaved dollars in many cases. It’s usually better to just go for something new.
Look Out for HDR
HDR has become an absolutely crucial spec of virtually all newer 2016 and 2017 4K UHD TVs being sold today. It’s now being included in a growing percentage of 4K UHD content and even the world of console gaming is seriously getting in on this new technology. The reason why is simple enough. Even more than 4K resolution itself, high dynamic range creates a genuinely superior level of picture quality wherever it’s added to content or supported by a display of any kind. Thus, if you’re going for a new 4K TV anyhow during these days of discounts, you might as well go for the most future-proof model you can. Your TV having HDR is a crucial part of that future-proofing. Fortunately, virtually all 2017 4K TVs you’ll find being sold anywhere for Black Friday/Cyber Monday are automatically HDR models, and many of them are extraordinarily affordable while including some of the best possible HDR specs you can buy today. Getting the one that best fits your budget and brand preferences is not at all difficult.
UHD HDR TV Connectivity Specs You Need
Diverse connectivity ports and other specs in today’s 4K HDR TVs are a crucial part of what makes these machines so flexible for a broad array of content options. Most importantly, a TV should have HDR/[email protected] HMDI ports (as many as possible), USB 3.0 connectivity, Ethernet and a robust WiFi package. If any of these are missing or defective in the 4K TV you want to buy, don’t go for that model in most cases. Fortunately, most of today’s 4K TVs come with pretty universal connectivity specs that are cutting edge almost across the board. However, some models can come with 3 HDMI ports instead of 4 or offer 4K HDR support on only a couple of the HDMI ports they do come with. If you already have a bunch of external streaming 4K media devices and game consoles such as the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro (both of which support 4K and HDR) in your home, then go for a new TV with as many 4K HDR capable HDMI ports as possible. Samsung’s and Sony’s 4K UHD TVs are particularly good in this regard. So are any of LG’s OLED 4K TVs.
Refresh Rate Details
Refresh rate is a crucial factor in how smoothly your 4K TV plays back all sorts of content. Among the 2016 and 2017 4K televisions you’re likely to find being sold on Black Friday among any major retailers right now, all will come with either a native 60Hz refresh rate or a native 120Hz refresh rate. Actual native screen refresh rates don’t go higher than 120Hz at this time. Any number beyond that is a sort of artificial doubling of real refresh that adds little to picture quality. However, because TV makers like to hype their products with cool sounding jargon, they’ll often tout these inflated fake refresh rates with names like “Motionflow”, “Automotion Plus” or “ClearMotion” and claim them as double what your TVs actual refresh is. Thus a native 60Hz TV will be labeled as having a 120Hz (insert fancy word with “motion” in it here) rate and a native 120Hz TV will claim 240Hz. Without going into too much further detail, two things should be kept in mind with these numbers: First, pay attention only to native refresh rate, not the false motion interpolation rates. 60Hz and 120Hz are the only mainstream native rates and the only ones that count. Secondly, if you can get the higher REAL native 120Hz rate within your budget, go for it, it is slightly better.
Our detailed guide to 4K TV refresh rates explains all of the above in fine detail if you want to know more.
A Bad TV On Sale is Still A Bad TV
This point is loosely related to our first one above about refurbished 4K TVs, but in a more general sense. Quite simply, some 4K TV models just aren’t very good, and despite whatever awesome Black Friday discounts you may find on them, well, a bad TV is a bad TV no matter how affordable it is, and if you’re looking for value and quality, don’t go for that kind of television regardless of its price discounts. In other words, check the models that interest you carefully. Look through existing reviews of their performance, visit our own 4K TV guide page where we list our top 10 4K TV picks and further down, the best televisions and brands in each category of TV size. It’s better to spend a bit more on a television that can work great and stay future proof for years than save a bundle on something craptastic that you hate within a few days of plugging it in.
Future Proofing Is Key
4K TV display and connectivity standards are evolving almost all the time, so it can be hard to keep up. This however doesn’t mean that you need to replace your 4K TV every year just to stay up to date on the content you want to watch with it. Instead (and this relates to our points above about connectivity issues and buying bad TVs) just make sure that you buy the newest possible 4K HDR TV from a brand that’s trustworthy that your budget allows. These TVs may have their comparative defects but they will all at least get the essential specs and firmware updates for a future-proof entertainment experience well after you buy them.