Everyone can use a little help with the scoring of the best Tv for the money. The Timing of your TV-purchase is a way to get a great deal. Consumer Reports has recently partnered with Gap Intelligence, a retail and e-commerce market research company, to carry out an analysis of the television prices to determine the best times of year to buy a new set. (Find out where to get the lowest price on your next TV.)
Not surprisingly, Black Friday is indeed the time for the highest discounts. But we are rapidly approaching the second best time of the year to purchase a set at a discount: two weeks before the start of the Super Bowl, which will be played Feb. 5 of this year.
But that does not mean that you should just get your wallet and head to a store (or online), not on the height. We have put together some general guidelines to help you understand what features to expect within three budgets. Armed with that information, you can check our full TV reviews to find a model with the size, the price and the performance you want.
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40 to 43 inches: $170 and $400
49 to 55-inch: $250 to $700
60 inch and larger: $500 to $1,100
Don’t need a super-beautiful TV packed with features? You can still make a basic package that delivers great image quality at a surprisingly low price. The key with an entry-level set is the focus on the few features that you care about and understand what you can live without.
What you will get. Unless you’re shopping for the largest screen size, you will probably be choosing a regular 1080p high-definition screen in place of a higher-resolution of 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV. That is fine, because that extra resolution is not really noticeable until you get into the jumbo sizes: 65 cm or larger. Also expect a set with 60 hz refresh rate instead of one with a requirement of 120 hz or higher. (Higher refresh rates can help reduce the blurring that can occur with fast-moving scenes.) And the TV will probably come with a simple remote control, and one or two HDMI ports.
What you don’t get. If you do manage to score a 4K TV for a low price, the performance will probably be lower than that of a higher priced set. Entry-level televisions may also lack the more advanced color and image-processing technologies in the more sophisticated sets. And some don’t come with smart TV functionality.
Is it for you? If your main goal is to have a decent sized screen to watch sports, TV shows, and the occasional movie, you may not need all the nice features that you get with the higher priced sets. Check out our reviews, pick out a few models in the desired size of the screen with at least very good picture quality, then shop around for the best deal. You can always have a smart-TV capability later with a streaming player.
40 to 43 inches: $350 to $550
49 to 55-inch: $650 to $1,200
60 inch and larger: $950 $2,300
Midpriced sets, almost by definition, represent the sweet spot of the market. These models usually offer the best balance between price, performance and features.
What you will get. High resolution 4K screens are now regular regular sets. You can also expect a certain degree of high dynamic range (HDR) capability, technology increases the contrast between the lightest and darkest images a TV can produce with HDR-compatible content. On the more expensive sets, our testers have found that HDR can reveal richer detail and more dramatic highlights, but the results are not always as impressive in this price level.
Most of the Tvs of 40 inches and larger now smart Tvs, and equipped with built-in Wi-fi for connection to the home network. You’ll probably also get a faster 120Hz refresh rate plus local dimming, a feature that can turn off certain zones of a TV backlight to create deeper blacks and better contrast. And you can probably count on at least three, maybe four HDMI inputs for connecting your equipment.
What you don’t get. Companies will keep their highest performance characteristics for top-of-the-line models. Why else would you spend more? Thus, in this area usually is not very effective HDR performance, precise local dimming, or the most advanced video processing.
Is it for you? Midlevel models are the best option for most people, especially if the TV is the main unit. Getting a 4K model can also help future-proof your purchase.
Top-Tv ‘ S
40 to 43 inches: $400 to $800
49 to 55 inches: $750 to $3,000
60 inch and larger: $ 1,600 to $6,000
These Tvs are the most expensive in a company’s line-up and the best performance and the latest features. Many also have slim profiles and versions with ultra-thin bezels. (You’ll also see a lot of curved Tv’s in this price range, but that is no longer exclusively a top-tier function.) The most fully equipped sets are usually only available in larger screen sizes.
What you will get. This year, sets from major manufacturers are all 4K models with 120Hz refresh rates, and bright screens that highlight HDR content. You also get more of that contrast-the enrichment of local dimming zones as well as the brand and the most advanced video processing, which can result in sharper images and better results when upconverting lower resolution of 1080p content to 4K resolution.
Top-tier sets are where manufacturers roll out their most advanced smart-TV systems and more advanced remote control. These remote controls often have a built-in microphone for voice-controlled search (‘play ‘Strange Things’ “).
What you don’t get. You get everything except a low price.
Is it for you? Top-of-the-line models ensures that the latest technology that manufacturers have to offer, as the highest level of performance. Be aware that the higher-end features this year is the top-level Tv’s are often on a next year is the midlevel sets for much lower prices.
Editor’s note: This article also appeared in the February 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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