The five keys to pic­ture-per­fect TV buy­ing

The Detroit News - - ARTS & STYLE - BY COURT­NEY JESPERSEN Nerdwal­let

Buy­ing a TV can be thrilling, yet daunt­ing.

To max­i­mize the ex­hil­a­ra­tion – while min­i­miz­ing the un­cer­tainty – ex­perts say to pay at­ten­tion to at least five things.

Size

Size alone shouldn’t be the de­cid­ing fac­tor, but it will be a large part of your de­ci­sion – both lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively.

“I al­ways tell peo­ple to buy the big­gest screen that they can af­ford and that will fit in their room,” says Tim Alessi, the di­rec­tor of prod­uct mar­ket­ing at LG Elec­tron­ics. “Be­cause I’ve never met any­body yet who has said, ‘Oh darn. I wish I bought a smaller TV.’”

The op­po­site is of­ten true: Con­sumers bring a TV home and wish they had gone larger. Alessi notes screens 70 inches and above are a huge growth cat­e­gory in the TV in­dus­try right now.

Think about where you want to put your TV and what size will fit. On­line, many re­tail­ers al­low you to fil­ter your search ac­cord­ing to cri­te­ria like screen size and brand.

Bud­get

But you need room for that big TV in your bud­get.

Thank­fully, TV sales go on through­out the year. For ex­am­ple, Black Fri­day in Novem­ber is famed for big dis­counts on all screens.

But there will be other things to ac­count for in your bud­get, like ac­ces­sories and in­stal­la­tion, so don’t com­mit to a dol­lar fig­ure just yet.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and color

Once you’ve nar­rowed the se­lec­tion, think about what you want it to do. If you’re up­grad­ing for the first time in years, com­pare the lat­est in­no­va­tions to see which ones match your view­ing habits.

“Typ­i­cally in the U.S., con­sumers hold onto a tele­vi­sion for about five to seven years,” says Rob Bren­nan, the prod­uct tech­nol­ogy man­ager for home en­ter­tain­ment and sound at Sony Elec­tron­ics. And a lot has changed in a few years, he says.

Ask your­self ques­tions about things like the TV’s smart ca­pa­bil­ity. Do you want a TV that can tell your Roomba to start clean­ing?

And as for the all-im­por­tant de­ci­sion of LCD ver­sus OLED, here’s a quick cheat sheet from Bren­nan. For the most part,

LCD (which has an LED back­light) works well in bright rooms, while OLED suits dark en­vi­ron­ments ded­i­cated to TV view­ing.

Ac­ces­sories

Next, make sure you have any ex­tra equip­ment you’ll need.

Sound is an es­pe­cially im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion. You could use the TV’s sound as is, but you may con­sider buy­ing a sound bar or au­dio/video receiver sep­a­rately to en­hance the sound, ac­cord­ing to Michael Greco, se­nior di­rec­tor of global brand man­age­ment at Sound United.

If you do, re­mem­ber to read the “What’s in the box” pack­ag­ing. (I can’t be the only per­son who ordered a TV with­out the nec­es­sary ca­bles to hook it up.)

“I would al­ways dou­blecheck what’s in the box and make sure you have the right ca­bles in the box,” says Greco. “If not, you’ll need to buy them at the time you buy your TV or your au­dio equip­ment.”

Ideal in­stal­la­tion

Fi­nally, make a plan to get that fancy new screen home. Par­tic­u­larly for wall mount­ing, as op­posed to a TV stand, con­sider spring­ing for pro­fes­sional de­liv­ery and in­stal­la­tion.

“When you shop for the TV, a lot of re­tail­ers will of­fer ei­ther spe­cials or free in­stal­la­tion de­pend­ing on where you are, so I would take ad­van­tage of that,” Alessi says.

Ask about in­stal­la­tion war­ranties, too. These can give you peace of mind you won’t get if you hang it your­self.

“If the tele­vi­sion were to come off the wall, then the in­staller typ­i­cally will guar­an­tee their work,” Bren­nan says.

If you need the TV on short no­tice, check how quickly de­liv­ery and in­stal­la­tion is avail­able.

And once the work of buy­ing is done, rest easy and en­joy those Su­per Bowl com­mer­cials; you likely won’t have to go through this process again for five to seven years.

David J. Phillip / AP

Af­ter you se­lect your TV, make a plan to get that fancy new screen home. Par­tic­u­larly for wall mount­ing, as op­posed to a TV stand, con­sider spring­ing for pro­fes­sional de­liv­ery and in­stal­la­tion.

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