Financial Fitness


Should I buy a new TV?

Posted at 4:15 AM, Nov 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-05 05:15:09-05

The holidays are coming and with many high definition television options on the market, this is a good time to upgrade your television set.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent an average of 19.6 hours a week watching television. Clearly, buying the right television for your family’s needs is important.

While the prices of large high-definition screens have dropped dramatically in recent years, ultra-HD TVs have entered the market. With this technology readily available, consumers should be asking, “What is the right television for me?”

1) Size matters

Do you want an ultra-HD TV? For many people, there is simply no reason to buy one of these expensive televisions. An average 55-inch ultra-HD – otherwise known as 4K – television from Best Buy currently sells for $1,000. Meanwhile, a 1080p 55-inch television on average is $600.

Is the extra $400 worth it? The thing to remember is the human eye has a finite definition. For a person to notice a difference, they would have to sit within 7 feet of a 55-inch television. For most people who sit 8 to 12 feet from their television, the difference in technology will not be evident.

If you want a mammoth screen, perhaps a 4K TV will work for you. But for the majority of Americans, buying a 1080p will be spectacular.

2) But what about the future?

To look at the future, let’s look at the past. Many consumers bought a 720p screen as the nation made the transition from analog to standard six years ago. For many Americans, those 720p screens do well. Many programs and channels still broadcast at 720p.

Some programmers are offering limited amount of 4K content. Netflix has a limited number of original shows available at for ultra-HD. In order to enjoy the 4K resolution however, Netflix recommends having an Internet connection of 25 Mbps or faster. Finding Internet that fast might be challenge for many Americans depending on where they live.

As the technology becomes more prevalent, there might be more programming offered in 4K, but that might not be for years to come due to the cost of carrying signals.

3) I want a nice TV and I am willing to spend

This is a great time to be a smart consumer. If you know what you want, you can find a great deal. Even cash-strapped families should be able to take home a beautiful television this holiday season if you plan ahead.

One of the most forgotten aspects of television viewing is the sound. As televisions have gotten thinner, the ability for televisions to produce powerful audio has diminished. A great way to get incredible audio is by purchasing a sound bar. Sound bars range from less than $100 to more than $600, but $200 should be enough to buy a sound bar that will surpass the audio produced by any television.

Other things to consider include the TVs refresh rate, contrast ratio and viewing angle. These combined will likely make for a better - or worse - viewing experience than the television’s resolution. Also consider the number of HDMI ports you will need. If you are plugging in a cable box, video game console, computer and streaming device, you will ultimately need more ports.

One cheat to this is to buy a smart TV, which will include many of the same features as Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast.