There are often a lot of really, really good deals on new TVs on Black Friday. While you can score a good television and save a lot of money, you should know what you’re buying before you dive in.
Sometimes, for example, the TVs that you buy on Black Friday are slightly modified versions with different model numbers than the ones you might normally see. This is because they often have variations of the feature set that can help cut down the cost of a TV. It’s not always the case, but it can be, and it’s one reason why you’ll want to dig around and know what you’re buying first.
Here’s what to consider if you’re shopping for a new HDTV on Black Friday.
Limited HDMI ports
Double check to see how many HDMI ports your new TV has. You can do this by looking for the “specifications” on the box or the website where the TV is listed. In previous years, some Black Friday TVs only had one or two HDMI ports. The good news is, this year, it seems like a lot have at least three. They’re important: These are the ports that connect to your cable box, your gaming system, your Apple TV, Roku and other products. The more you have the better, otherwise you’ll need to add an HDMI extender, which doesn’t always work well, or you’ll have to swap out the plugs for each time you want to use a different gadget.
Look for HDR
HDR isn’t just a buzz word. You want this feature on your new TV, especially if you’re going to be keeping it for several years. HDR, otherwise known as high-dynamic range, allows your TV shows and movies to look as intended by the studio that produced them. You’ll get more light in darker scenes, meaning it’s easier to see the content. This year there are more TVs than ever that support it, which is good news for buyers.
Look for OLED if you can
Most of the TVs you’re going to find in the affordable range will have LED screens, which are great. But, if you can find one, look for a set with an OLED panel. It’s the same tech found in the latest iPhones and Samsung phones, and it’s really good at reproducing accurate colors. They typically offer more dynamic range, too, which means the dark areas of the picture get nice and perfectly black while the lighter areas can get nice and bright white. Usually, the TVs in the store that really make your mouth drop are ones with OLED panels. OLED TVs are usually a lot more expensive than LED TVs, so be mindful of your budget.
Don’t worry too much about smart TVs
Don’t worry too much about looking for a “smart TV.” Lots of the user interfaces that are built by manufacturers are still really bad. There are some exceptions, including units with Amazon Fire TV software or built-in Roku software. Both of those platforms are great and provide quick access to things like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. If you don’t have this on board, don’t worry, you can get a Roku or a Fire TV for under $50. Most high-end TVs have “smart” features built in these days, but you don’t have to use them.
Check the refresh rate
Some of the more affordable 4K TVs available for sale on Black Friday only have a 60 Hz refresh rate. You should be shopping for TVs with 120 Hz or, better yet, 240 Hz. The faster refresh rate means you’ll be able to view motion, like football or intense scenes in movies, without any sort of ghosting effect. It’ll just look smoother.
You get what you pay for
Remember, and this holds true especially on Black Friday, you get what you pay for. If you think a deal is too good to be true, like a huge 4K TV for $150, it probably is. You’re going to get fewer HDMI ports, a TV that doesn’t support the latest HDR technology, and probably a low refresh rate. Keep in mind that some of the $700-range TVs are still on sale and include some of these must-have features, so consider spending a bit more and getting something that’ll really last.