Tech Talk

When's the Best Time To Buy a New TV? Wait for the Super Bowl

Contrary to popular belief, the best deals on new TVs don't come on Black Friday.

by | December 22, 2016 | Comments


Allison Joyce / Getty Images

You did the research, read the ads, looked at the door busters, and made the big purchase, but did you really get the most bang for your buck on Black Friday? You might be surprised to find that the best high-end TV deals are happening just before the Super Bowl. Follow our guide below and you may just email us to let us know that we’re the real MVPs as you sit back and experience your glorious new 4K HDR LED LCD. Or OLED, if you’ve got that kind of game.

Here’s the deal: Black Friday is all about super low prices. Door busters are all about getting scores of people to, well, bust down those doors for obscene deals, and then, when those deals are gone, retailers are betting you’ll stick around and take advantage of the other ones… even if they aren’t for anything you originally wanted. This year, Best Buy had a Toshiba 49-inch 4K TV with Google Cast for $199.99. Walmart had two great looking deals in an Element 50-inch 1080p HDTV for $225 and a Hisense 40-inch 1080p HDTV for $125. For those really just looking to get into a large LED LCD TV, those will be more than sufficient. Heck, my current main TV was a Sears door buster I picked up years ago.

What you need to know is that the first quarter of every year is when TV manufacturers announce and release the latest TV sets. Black Friday and the subsequent holiday shopping season is when retailers get rid of late models to make way for the new ones. In other words, Black Friday deals usually apply to sets that aren’t state-of-the-art technology. Even the TVs that aren’t door busters are often entry and mid-range television sets.

That’s where the Super Bowl comes in. The sets on sale this time of the year are usually higher end and more feature-rich. If your budget allows for more than the $200-to-$500 LED LCD and you’re willing to spend more for that 4K UHD TV with HDR, this is the time to buy. As a matter of fact, we reached out to, which tracks deals like these, to help us help you make the best decision to get the most for your money, and it turns out that more of you are actually holding off on those Black Friday sales to go for the 4K gusto. According to online shopping expert Brent Shelton at, “Last January, 26 percent of Americans said they were going to buy a new TV in 2016 (that increases to 40 percent for those with children and 35 percent for those under age 30). Of those, 25 percent were targeting that TV purchase during Super Bowl sales, while only 18 percent said they’ll wait until Black Friday to buy a new TV. About half said they planned to purchase their first 4K TV.” I know — you’re thinking, “That’s great, but how do I wade through the sales stunts and marketing jargon to choose the best quality high end TV?” If you don’t know what to look for, I’m going to go through that below, as well as what is and isn’t marketing hype and a few shopping tips from the folks at FatWallet.

4K All Day


David Becker / Getty Images

Let’s get right to the first thing most of you will see when you walk over to the TV section in any big box, and that’s resolution. You’ll see 1080p TVs and you’ll see 4K sets, and you’ll ask yourself if 4K is really worth it. I think the easy way to figure this out is to stand in front of a 1080p set and a 4K set and determine if you really see a difference. Most people probably won’t be able to, if they’re both set up properly. Technically, 4K offers four times the pixels of an HDTV, but 4K content isn’t as ubiquitous as HD programming just yet. Sure, the catalog of 4K Blu-rays and streaming content is growing, but the vast majority of content available to you still comes in a format suitable for your 1080P TV. That said, if you can go with 4K, do it. Since 4K is the newer technology, those sets will often have the latest features, including something very important: HDR.

HDR: You Want This. Trust Me.

What is HDR, or high dynamic range? This probably provides the biggest improvement you’ll see in picture quality between a 1080P set and a 4K set. Where 4K provides more pixels than 1080P, HDR actually improves those pixels. In the simplest terms possible, HDR is a standard which allows for the improvement of the contrast and color of images. It makes it possible for the brighter parts of an image to be brighter and the darker parts darker. It also increases the depth of the colors. Red, blue, green — all of the colors visible on your UHD TV are brighter, and that, along with greater contrast, will make your content look richer and appear to have greater depth.

You’re going to need three things to make this work, though: your TV set will need to have the HDR feature; whatever you’re watching will have to be HDR content; and the box you’re streaming or watching the content from, like a 4K Blu-ray player, will need to be at least HDMI 2.0a (or HDMI 2.0 with firmware upgradeable to 2.0a). Bottom line: if you’re choosing between two sets, go with the one that has HDR. There’s a minor impending format war over the HDR standard, but I think you’ll be fine buying today as long as you know that you’ll be an early adopter. Plus, that war is more like a skirmish. Because of something called HDR-10, more than likely no one will really lose out, but if these details intrigue you, we can wade into the deep end in the comments below. To keep it simple, look for a TV with the UHD Premium and/or the Dolby Vision logo to be sure you’re getting the full HDR experience.

Ignore This Feature


One of the features that irritates me to no end when it comes to watching anything but sports — and quite frankly I don’t watch much sportsball at all — is motion smoothing. Vizio calls it “Smooth Motion” and Samsung calls it “Auto Motion Plus,” for example, but they all have it, and for the most part, it’s a bunch of hooey. Most filmed content has traditionally been shot at 24 frames per second, but motion smoothing makes it look like that content was shot as high as 60fps. For an idea of what I’m talking about, you may recall that when The Hobbit came out, it was screened at a high frame rate, and a lot of moviegoers voiced their dissatisfaction with the viewing experience. That’s what this motion smoothing looks like on most modern LED LCDs. Ultimately it looks unfamiliar and artificial to many people. The good news is that with many of the feature-rich TVs you’ll find in Super Bowl sales, you’ll be able to turn the feature off, or at least turn it down. (One caveat to my disdain for the tech: For sporting events you may want to turn the feature on, as it adds to the lifelike image you’ll be viewing on your higher end sets. You’ll have to see it for that to make sense, but it does make sense, and the space I’d need to explain why is larger than the scope of this article.)

So, how much are you going to spend on a 4K TV this Super Bowl season? Bigger is definitely better. According to Brent at FatWallet, “For 2017 Super Bowl sales, expect $500-to-1000 savings on higher-end 55- to 65-inch 4K OLED, SUHD, and HDR models, with a few models coming down in price close to $1,200. Walmart and Best Buy will have the biggest selection, but Target and Sam’s Club will compete for better prices.”

Oh yeah, OLED. At the Consumer Electronics Show a few years ago LG gave me a tour of their OLED displays before they were widely available on the market, and I was blown away. Watching their 4K content on an 85-inch OLED was like looking through a window at a beautiful Italian vista. The depth and detail was so nuanced and layered, it was lifelike even without HDR. At that time, LG was still perfecting the manufacturing process, and OLEDs were prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthy, but as all things go, they’ve come down in price significantly. If it is within your budget, OLED is the best looking display, superior to LED LCDs, and at that price point, you’re going to get 4K and HDR.

FatWallet also has some other out-of-the-box advice: hit up Dell. “They offer great TV deals pre-Super Bowl and add bonus Dell gift cards up to $300 with your purchase. Target is another retailer that often adds gift card bonuses on TV purchases. And look for TV bundle deals, such as 4K TVs with gaming consoles or streaming media devices.”

Make The Smart Choice


Ethan Miller / Getty Images

I’ll make this brief: Get a smart TV. A “smart” TV is one that comes with an operating system like Android, Roku, WebOS, or Tizen baked in. Think of it as “TV meets your tablet or smartphone.” You’re going to get a TV which allows you to download and add apps to your TV watching experience. With a smart TV, you won’t need a standalone Roku box, Chromecast, or Apple TV. In most cases, you’ll be able to download just about anything you need, like Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, HBO Go, Crackle, or FandangoNow. In some cases, this will even extend the functionality of your TV, allowing you to use your smartphone or tablet as a remote for the TV and even connecting to the TV, allowing you to show pictures and videos from your smartphone or tablet on the TV itself over WiFi or Bluetooth.

In the end, whether it’s the big game or you’re looking for high end deals more so than bargain basement pricing, there’s almost no better time than Super Bowl sales. Brent says that, “Unlike scattered 4K TV door buster deals from Black Friday 2015, 2016 Super Bowl sales offered the first widespread price drops on 55-inch and up 4K UHD models from the major brands at big box stores, and some of the first discounting on a very limited selection of higher end OLED, SUHD, and HDR models.” Best Buy had these deals: A 55-inch LG 4K UHD smart TV for $699, a savings of $500; and $800 off a 60-inch Samsung 4K UHD TV, which was on sale for $999. So even if you’re not a huge sportsball fan, but want something  that gives you the best picture quality for your dollar for all of your streaming, 4K Blu-ray, and 4K gaming needs, this is it. Game on!

Tshaka Armstrong is a huge nerd and activist who also writes for and his own site,, where he talks about food, bearding properly, tech, family, and equality.

Follow Tshaka on Twitter: @tshakaarmstrong

Tag Cloud

screenings Quiz Fantasy boxoffice Valentine's Day doctor who Tarantino TV Land 99% Interview classics zero dark thirty Fox Searchlight documentaries Christmas indiana jones psychological thriller casting Action Pirates DC Universe hidden camera Legendary ABC Family remakes Exclusive Video Hulu YouTube Premium Comics on TV dark Musicals tv talk 007 USA Network hispanic Lucasfilm Amazon Studios IFC Films witnail spain Marvel Television crossover sag awards CNN YA king kong critics Certified Fresh cinemax TIFF know your critic discovery TBS criterion crime LGBTQ monster movies Sony Pictures See It Skip It video on demand OWN docudrama 2016 VOD elevated horror dogs Discovery Channel 93rd Oscars PlayStation telelvision french superhero Showtime romance universal monsters 4/20 indie Marvel Studios Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt women cancelled television kaiju FOX Pop TV worst movies Pixar IFC emmy awards stoner diversity name the review golden globe awards Super Bowl History Film FXX Travel Channel Fall TV robots chucky Cannes 72 Emmy Awards composers Country President romantic comedy Countdown Comedy Election best joker ghosts Food Network Image Comics Bravo die hard The Witch Epix target TCA LGBT new zealand Western versus BBC America Fox News Thanksgiving blockbuster APB RT21 Comic-Con@Home 2021 Arrowverse Turner First Look Rom-Com documentary period drama Emmys Comedy Central DGA Premiere Dates zombies El Rey blaxploitation halloween BET satire stop motion blockbusters Universal parents Martial Arts E3 spinoff rom-coms TruTV Sneak Peek American Society of Cinematographers miniseries Black History Month Song of Ice and Fire free movies nature Set visit politics technology teaser live action Reality rotten movies we love archives A&E 20th Century Fox directors Crunchyroll 2017 black RT History christmas movies scene in color comic cancelled superman Peacock Shudder YouTube Red TV renewals BBC fresh quibi hist Chernobyl franchise children's TV political drama ID serial killer Endgame GoT Drama green book anthology Awards transformers Tumblr San Diego Comic-Con adaptation zombie PaleyFest Comic Book The Walking Dead sports TLC Hallmark Heroines Trophy Talk child's play YouTube spanish award winner Academy Awards war Lifetime strong female leads Music game show Sundance Now films olympics concert Television Academy Mary Poppins Returns james bond MCU The Walt Disney Company ITV rotten Film Festival SXSW foreign true crime Apple pirates of the caribbean The CW razzies Cosplay Mudbound comiccon New York Comic Con comedies Mary poppins vampires Polls and Games Sundance 2020 21st Century Fox aapi DC Comics Baby Yoda legend VICE wonder woman Paramount Plus Black Mirror BET Awards dc suspense BAFTA SDCC supernatural Calendar basketball SundanceTV sequels Acorn TV 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Lionsgate TCA Winter 2020 rt archives Spike Schedule canceled TV shows spanish language TV One CBS 2015 ratings Photos theme song GLAAD CW Seed screen actors guild Emmy Nominations Disney Paramount Network First Reviews Spring TV comics 90s sequel Ellie Kemper Vudu CBS All Access nfl adventure HBO nbcuniversal Toys binge scary movies disaster Podcast Horror Holidays WarnerMedia Box Office Adult Swim A24 Tokyo Olympics revenge crime thriller CMT TCA Awards Oscars Teen 24 frames unscripted spy thriller marvel cinematic universe thriller Ovation werewolf ABC Signature Animation Superheroe reviews The Academy Marathons WGN television cars Brie Larson Disney streaming service trailers jurassic park dramedy Starz travel Disney+ Disney Plus cancelled TV series 2021 Classic Film hollywood 45 Marvel Hear Us Out Dark Horse Comics heist movie 71st Emmy Awards Winners Star Wars Avengers NBA BBC One festivals popular laika Character Guide Spectrum Originals OneApp toy story boxing streaming USA Rocketman Captain marvel The Purge psycho prank Rock singing competition Holiday Stephen King book adaptation GIFs HBO Max Winter TV asian-american TV movies Amazon Prime Video Extras biography toronto Netflix TV dragons Family ABC FX Mystery Anna Paquin japan Superheroes canceled Mindy Kaling Shondaland crime drama Red Carpet 1990s Syfy Star Trek Amazon Prime based on movie Chilling Adventures of Sabrina latino jamie lee curtis VH1 Trailer Video Games Disney Plus space harry potter police drama Mary Tyler Moore medical drama venice anime cancelled TV shows Lifetime Christmas movies fast and furious independent kids cults Apple TV Plus Britbox Nominations X-Men Tubi Trivia what to watch ESPN AMC Logo aliens halloween tv Apple TV+ Wes Anderson Musical Pop mutant Elton John Awards Tour breaking bad twilight high school Ghostbusters Cartoon Network Sci-Fi docuseries Warner Bros. deadpool news talk show E! Funimation NYCC comic books Television Critics Association series Sundance TV DC streaming service natural history italian Rocky Broadway Pacific Islander Pet Sematary reboot Writers Guild of America international new york video justice league all-time cartoon Walt Disney Pictures spider-man finale Columbia Pictures Crackle Infographic new star wars movies golden globes movies facebook movie FX on Hulu worst Masterpiece Disney Channel mission: impossible Pride Month 2019 Women's History Month ViacomCBS Kids & Family streaming movies obituary book National Geographic historical drama richard e. Grant NBC lord of the rings 2018 south america MTV Freeform Summer Amazon Best and Worst saw Creative Arts Emmys PBS stand-up comedy Paramount Year in Review adenture Esquire renewed TV shows MSNBC sitcom scorecard DirecTV Hallmark Christmas movies Reality Competition cops football Nat Geo The Arrangement Nickelodeon australia Netflix Christmas movies slashers TCA 2017 Biopics godzilla animated science fiction Grammys dceu social media mockumentary HBO Go Opinion Turner Classic Movies Alien game of thrones batman TCM cooking Binge Guide japanese festival Tomatazos Watching Series a nightmare on elm street kong TNT cats