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TVs: The Basics

Buying a new TV can be overwhelming -- the size, the specs, manufacturer-specific jargon, and the expectation that a new set should last at least five years means that your head will be swimming with numbers, even before price gets factored into the equation. To make the buying process easier, the experts at DealNews are always seeking out the best TV deals to share with you. And here we put together helpful information to know before you buy your next TV.

Common TV Terms

HD: High Definition Television, or a television broadcast with a resolution of at least 720i, although commonly seen at 1080p.

4K/UHD: Commonly refers to a native resolution of 3840x2160, although the professional industry standard is 4096x2160.

HDR: High Dynamic Range. HDR refers to the color gamut and brightness of a display. Many HDR subcategories exist, and the most popular ones include HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. (For more information, see our HDR guide .)

LED LCD/QLED/OLED: Refers to the actual illumination/pixel panel of the TV.

  • LED LCD: Light Emitting Diode/Liquid Crystal Display. It's by far the most inexpensive and common panel in consumer TVs. It utilizes LEDs behind or on the edges of the LCD panel to illuminate the pixels in large localized groups.
  • QLED: Quantum-Dot Light Emitting Diode. The pixels in these panels are lit by LEDs along the edges of the panel (similar to LED LCD panels), but the TVs also employ a quantum dot filter to achieve higher brightness than OLED panels, at the expense of response time, contrast, and black levels.
  • OLED: Organic Light-Emitting Diode. These TVs essentially have a thin film that can illuminate individual pixels when supplied with current, thus creating more brightness and a truer black level. These also tend to be much slimmer TVs, as they don’t employ traditional LED backlighting.

Refresh Rate: This is the speed at which a display refreshes the image. The faster this happens, the less motion blur is observed in quick-moving images. The standard is 60Hz, although 120Hz (and higher) are quickly becoming mainstream. It should be noted, however, that many manufacturers often obscure the actual specs with terms like “motion rate” or “effective refresh rate.”

TV Deals by the Numbers

We’ve listed nearly 500 of the best deals on TVs just this year. Of these, the vast majority were smart TVs , although some of the lowest prices we’ve seen per size category have been for non-smart sets. (From a personal perspective, I feel that combined with the lower outright price, the value in having a non-smart TV lies in a hassle-free upgrade as new streaming media players come to market. No need to worry about a manufacturer phasing out the updates for your set!)

OLED TVs

While OLED panels are the “cream of the crop” in terms of picture quality, that quality still comes at a premium. The average price of the new 55” OLED TVs we’ve seen this year comes in around $1,700, compared to $511 for QLED sets and $435 for LED TVs . (Note that these numbers are for new units only. For refurbished TVs , the average price of an LED set was only a hair over $309.)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common TV features to look for?

Once you’ve figured out the size of TV you’re looking for, consider what resolution and type of panel or display you’d like. (The budget you’ve set aside will also play a large role in determining these features.) Do you want a smart TV, with baked-in streaming apps for your Netflix / Disney+ / Hulu binges? If so, will you need a set with WiFi, or can you hook it up directly to your router? How many HDMI inputs do you need? While HDMI switches are available, having a game console (or two), streaming media player, cable box, and digital TV antenna can add up quickly.

What does 'native resolution' mean?

Native resolution refers to the default resolution, or number of pixels, that the display has. It's presented as the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical pixels. To simplify this, most resolutions have adopted more common terms, such as 1080p (1920x1080) and 4K (3840x2160 -- roughly four times the pixels of 1080p).

What are the benefits of a smart TV?

Smart TVs are internet-enabled sets with a manufacturer-supplied operating system. They often include apps for the most popular streaming media platforms, along with web browsers, social networking and chat apps, and future firmware updates from the manufacturer. In short, if you’d like to skip the hassle of hooking up a Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast device, a smart TV is the way to go. Additionally, many sets now feature AI assistant integration, allowing voice control with your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices.

By: William Lardinois, Travel Editor & Staffwriter

William has been a part of the DealNews team since 2014. He started as a content writer, and has worn hats in a myriad of roles ever since - eventually becoming the head of the Travel team. In that role, he researches airfare, cruise, hotel, and vacation deals galore, and keeps tabs on industry trends. When he’s not sharing travel tips, William is the DealNews resident audio expert — often helping coworkers find the perfect set of headphones or speakers.

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