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Home / Tips and Tricks / Price drops on TVs are coming. Here’s the secret to getting the best deal

Price drops on TVs are coming. Here’s the secret to getting the best deal



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Whether in-store or online, the TV buying season follows a set pattern.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

It’s an open secret in the TV industry that awards follow a regular annual cycle. Prices drop every year, and knowing that cycle can save you some money or at least fear of getting ripped off. What’s the secret? New TVs will be announced at CES in January. However, then they are not available. There are often sales in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl in February, but they are on the previous year’s models.

Current model year TVs ship in the spring and early summer (like now), which is when they’re most expensive. In other words, those fancy 2021 TVs cost more now than they would later in the year. There is sometimes a slight price drop in the summer — especially during Prime Day. This year it will be June 21-22 and early deals on some models are already available.

Read more: Early Prime Day 2021 TV Deals: Save on Insignia, LG, TCL, Toshiba and Vizio Models

However, the biggest price cuts usually happen during the fall and in the lead up to the holidays. black friday and Cyber ​​Monday often have the best deals, both on cheap doorbuster models and the best TVs, and those prices are often available throughout December and the holidays. Which brings us back to CES in January, and the cycle starts all over again.

So when is the best time to buy a new TV? It’s not so easy to say “when it’s cheapest”, because then there are often new models around the corner. Plus, the cheapest TV may not be the best value. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Are you happy with what you have now?

Forget all new technology. If your TV works and you’re happy with it, keep it. Don’t feel pressure to upgrade.

Modern TVs are on average brighter and have better picture quality than the TVs of a few years ago. Unless you’re the type of videophile who wants to tweak every setting and fixate on nits and color accuracy, but you probably don’t need a new TV.

The pressure to upgrade is pervasive in our tech culture, but TVs tend to last longer and function perfectly longer than most devices. For example, they don’t have batteries that lose capacity like cell phones, or wires that wear out like headphones. A TV from five or even ten years ago will probably work just fine, although it may not look like it good as the current 4K HDR TVs. So again, if that’s not a big deal to you, you can probably keep what you have for a few more years.

Read more: Best TVs for PS5 and Xbox Series X, Series S

This is true even when considering new consoles, the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. If you have a PS4, Xbox One, or other console connected via HDMI, the new consoles should work just fine. They might look better on a new TV, but they will still look great on yours.

If your TV has issues, or you just want something bigger, that’s a different story. New TVs are much cheaper per inch than TVs of the past. You can replace your current TV with something of the same size, better looking and cheaper than your old TV. Or you can pay the same amount as your old TV and buy something much bigger.

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The biggest single days for TV sales are, of course black friday and Cyber ​​Monday. There are always some incredibly cheap 4K TVs on offer. But that’s not the whole story.

First of all, the TVs that get the biggest discounts are usually unbranded brands or cheap models from famous brands. They’re fine if you just want a cheap TV, but they won’t offer the picture quality of an even slightly more expensive model. The best TVs are also on sale, but big discounts on them are less common.

Entrance of a Best Buy store during a day with blue clear

TV sales happen all year round, but the Black Friday season has the biggest discounts.

Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Second, huge discounts on TVs are generally rare. It might be counter-intuitive, but TVs don’t usually have much markup. There’s not much profit in a $500 TV. So unless the store is trying to clear out inventory, don’t expect a massive price drop, even during the sale. There are a lot of good discounts available, they just won’t be “50% off” or anything like that unless there is a specific reason the model is getting such an extreme discount. Or it’s a doorbuster in limited quantities.

Third, most large companies do not allow stores to offer their own prices. This is called UPP or unilateral pricing policy. It means a TV from that company is going to cost the same whether it’s on Amazon, Best Buy, or anywhere else. Well, somewhere else that wants to keep selling TVs from that company.

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Most TV prices are set by the manufacturer, so it stays the same from store to store.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If this sounds vague, it is, but that’s a topic for another article. As a result, there’s usually no point in worrying if a store has a sale. In most cases, every store has a sale on that TV, or none at all. Now, that TV could go on sale (everywhere) next week. Some stores offer price protection in case this happens. Some credit cards do that too. Amazon, it’s worth noting, does not offer price protection.

What about next year’s TV technology?

In short, there is always something new around the corner. If this is your concern, it should give you peace of mind that even if something new comes out next year, it will be very expensive.

For instance, MicroLED looks promising, but you could buy one or two Porsches for the price of one MicroLED TV. It will be years before that is mainstream technology.

Mini LED, on the other hand, is now available. It is a technology that promises OLED image quality for less money. It is likely that we will see more brands with mini LED in the future.

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On the left the image as you would see it on a mini LED TV. On the right is an image of the mini LED array on the back of the TV. With so many LEDs, the backlight has a greater “resolution” so that a finer distinction can be made between light and dark. The ideal, like OLED and microLED, would be lighting per pixel, but mini-LED is a step closer to that without the expense of the other two technologies.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The rollout across the country is also NextGen TV, or ATSC 3.0. This is free over-the-air 4K TV, and although it’s moving forward quite quickly and may already be available in your city. There are even some models with built-in tuners available now. Don’t feel rushed to upgrade or buy those specific models, as worst case scenario could be buying a cheap external tuner and plugging it into your TV.

There is also HDMI 2.1. While 2.1 has several new technologies that are great, it won’t make current TVs obsolete (unless it’s a current 8K TVbut that’s another story). As long as your current TV works with your current sources you should be fine.

Really old TVs, older than 10 years, may have problems connecting to modern ones stream and disk resources, but there is no real solution for that. If your TV doesn’t work with a new Roku or Blu-ray player, you may need to upgrade if you want to use one.

So should you buy a new TV?

Here’s the short version:

Buy a new TV now if:

  • Your current TV has problems or is too old to connect to a streaming service like Netflix.
  • You are willing to buy from a place with a price match policy, in case there is a sale.
  • You want something bigger than what you have now.

Don’t buy a TV now if:

  • Your current TV works fine.
  • There is literally everything you need or want to spend money on.

If you’re in the mood for something new, but you’re still unsure, consider giving your TV a bit of a makeover. If you have never adjusted the settings, it’s easy to do and will probably make your TV look better than ever. That might help you a little.

And if you finally decide that, yes, you are now ready to buy a new TV, we at CNET have some guidelines and proposed models for 2021.


In addition to covering TV and other display technology, Geoff Morrison also takes photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarines, huge aircraft carriers, medieval castles, aircraft graveyards, and more.

You can follow his exploits on Instagram, YouTube and on his travel blog, BaldNomad. He also wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, along with a sequel.




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