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

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