HOW TO AVOID THE LEMONS AND SPOT THE DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH.
[ LINDSAY HANDMER ]
IT’S HARD NOT to be tempted by the now numerous 4K TVs, available in massive sizes for rock bottom prices. But how do you know if they are any good, let alone what features you need? Higher-end expensive models can be bargains, too, but how do you know if it’s worth opting for the pricier model? To help out, we have put together a guide to getting the best deal when buying a TV.
Unfortunately, there is not a single comprehensive go-to resource for comparing TVs sold in Australia, so finding the diamonds in the rough can be tricky. Websites such as are an excellent way to find deals on heavily discounted models — though keep in mind that cheap does not always mean good and, thus, a bargain. While many users on OzBargain are knowledgeable enough to give excellent feedback on the specs, it’s always worth researching separately to see how a TV stacks up before purchasing. Websites
and are also great resources for comparing prices, which can then be used to price match.
LAST YEAR’S MODELS
Often the best TV bargains can be found by keeping an eye on last year’s models discounted before new stock arrives. With a little luck and a watchful eye, a high-end TV can be picked up for the price of a mid-range one. With the current state of TVs, a year-old model is still quite current, and will still do everything needed.
WHERE TO BUY
Often big stores (such as JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and various others) will price match, making for an easier and safer purchase than buying online.
When going to look at TVs in person, keep in mind that the screen settings will be set to look good in a bright store, and won’t necessarily reflect what you will see at home.
Other stores, such as 2nds World ( can have excellent deals on as new but refurbished models.
Even the cheapest TV is not a bargain if it doesn’t perform well, or does not have the features you need. We have outlined some of the key specs to consider when looking for TV bargains, as well as why they are or are not important.
For most users, 3D support is not needed (but is often included) and curved screens are a personal choice that it’s not worth paying much extra for.
OFTEN THE BEST TV BARGAINS CAN BE FOUND BY KEEPING AN EYE ON LAST YEAR’S MODELS DISCOUNTED BEFORE NEW STOCK ARRIVES. WITH A LITTLE LUCK AND A WATCHFUL EYE, A HIGH-END TV CAN BE PICKED UP FOR THE PRICE OF A MID-RANGE ONE.
Make sure to calibrate the TV for your viewing environment and, for many models, detailed guides can be found online. Try Googling it, or checking out websites such as www.flatpanelshd.com.
Most TVs (especially more affordable models) use LCD screens, and are either edge or backlit. Backlit TVs typically have better contrast ratios, but can be more expensive, and thicker. OLED TVs are much more expensive, yet give the best colours and contrast, and have wider viewing angles.
SIZE DOES MATTER
Picking the right sized TV for your space is very important, but often it’s better to go a little larger, rather than smaller. A good rule of thumb for size is half the viewing distance. So if you sit 3m back from the TV, then a 55-inch to 65-inch model (140–165cm) is a good place to start. 4K TVs (using high-res content) are usually a bit more forgiving to larger sizes up close, and curved TVs can look larger than they really are.
Even quite affordable TVs now sport 4K resolutions, but the extra pixels are wasted unless you have a high-resolution source. In Australia, even HD free-to-air channels are not 1080p, and aside from a few streaming services such as Netflix, or Ultra HD Blu-rays, it’s hard to find 4K content. Many TVs can upscale lowerresolution video sources, but on cheaper models, the processing is not always very effective.
While a 4K TV is a good future-proof purchase, don’t rule out features or wellpriced 1080p models.
HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE
Only available on quite new (and often higher-end) TVs, HDR means the TV can display a wider range of colours, brighter whites and deeper blacks — in other words, a much higher-quality image, and the difference is very noticeable.
The problem is that, for now, there are few HDR content sources — especially for streaming services.
SMARTS AND AUDIO
Having a TV with a built-in Netflix app, and the ability to load other apps, is super handy. The problem is that many basic TVs have fairly poor ‘smart’ systems, and can be slow and frustrating to use. Instead, consider an external media player. Google’s Chromecast ( www.google.com/intl/en_au/
chromecast) is an excellent choice from around $50, and uses your smartphone as a remote. More fully featured media players cost $200 or more, but offer a better-thanbuilt-in ‘smart’ TV experience.
The same goes for audio — invest in a decent external setup rather than using the inbuilt speakers.
Given in Hz, a higher refresh rate gives a smoother picture. For normal watching, it’s not a big issue, but a refresh rate of 120Hz or higher can help avoid blur or juddering during fast action, especially when watching sports.
Chinese company Hisense is a lesserknown brand that produces highquality, stylish TVs at great prices.
OzBargain is our go-to website for deal hunting.
Investing in a surround sound system (even a relatively cheap one) will make your new TV sound a lot better.