What is the Best TV, and Method of Purchase?

Submitted by xtramelanin on August 9th, 2018 at 9:01 PM


I am sad to report our 15 yr old 42" plasma TV has gone to be with the great TV tuner in the sky.  It actually died months ago but since we don't have TV except for during college football season nobody cared.  But now we are mere days away from actual college football, without question my favorite sport, and we need to replace that TV very soon.  

Assume we are pretty set that a 50" is the max we have space for in our house, and that I don't mind buying a sound bar if that should be part of the deal.  Assume also that we only use the thing a few months of the year and it otherwise collects dust, so we aren't going to spend on some stellar, in-home theatre set up.   

The question is this:  What is the best brand of TV, and from where should I buy it, Amazon, local Best Buy or ABC Warehouse, some other retailer or on-line place that is a great deal?

Thank you for your help and I hope others get some great ideas from the response.

Football is just 22 days and a wake-up away.  Go Blue!





August 9th, 2018 at 9:04 PM ^

I haven't shopped for a TV in a while, but I'd imagine pretty much anything will get the job done nowadays and you shouldn't spend too much money. HDTVs have been around for like 15 years now and they're a pretty damn mature technology.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:07 PM ^

My dad got into a Sony A1E after his plasma finally gave way. Ridiculous screen. Got it from massdrop with a really nice discount, plus no sales tax. I'm still using a Panasonic plasma. Would definitely consider a Sony OLED when the time comes. 


August 10th, 2018 at 1:00 PM ^

Sign up on Massdrop and request the A1E drop. They've run it maybe 3 times now, not sure if they will again or not considering the 2018 A8F is the new model, though they're pretty much identical other than the stand, which won't matter if you're going to mount it on a wall. 

My dad got the 65" for $2900, but on the last drop, the 55" was $2100. They shave off about $300 every new drop. The 65" was going for around $3500 at all the normal retailers (plus 10% tax in Alabama). Massdrop there is no tax, so we figure he saved close to a grand at the time of purchase. 


August 9th, 2018 at 9:10 PM ^

I just bought a TV from Amazon on PrimeDay.  But in my experience, you get the best service and support at Crutchfield.  If you call them (or go to online chat) and tell them exactly what is above, they will give you really good info.

More generally, most of what you'll find now are LCDs, LED LCDs, and OLEDs.  Those would generally be in order of increasing quality.  For a 49" LED, you're probably in the $800 range for good quality, but you can spend a lot less than that -- perhaps as low as $300.  In my experience, you get what you pay for, but you should only pay for features that matter to you.

Also, make sure you're looking at the external dimensions, not just screen size.  Since you last bought a TV, the bezels (border around the edge) have gotten much smaller.  I just replaced an old 46" TV with a new 55" that fits in the same area on the wall.

Good luck.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:16 PM ^

you make a good point about features, and i would add that to my OP if the edit worked for that.  i should've asked what are the features that make sense to pursue/acquire. 

as to the size, i did in fact do the measurements already, figuring that the new TV's have tiny edges (or bezels for you fancy grammar types) and thats how we got from 42" to 50".  


August 9th, 2018 at 9:15 PM ^

So I got a 55" 4K TCL for relatively cheap, given that it's a 55" 4K TV. 

Now, TV snobs will certainly tell me that TCL is a garbage brand (my damn AT&T guy told me it was crap it while he was working on my internet), but honest to goodness I haven't had a single problem with it. It's Roku, so if you're looking to cord cut now or in the future, it's perfectly set up for that. I keep cable just for football season, and it's good for that old school lifestyle as well. 

It replaced a bulkier, older, lower definition 45" Samsung and I've been really happy with the purchase.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:23 PM ^

So, I'm pretty close to over my head if I go any further - I'm definitely not the guy to ask about the newest and best TV technologies. 

It seems like Roku or some smart TV platform is becoming fairly standard as cord cutting becomes more popular. As for this TV, you just download the apps (i.e. Netflix) you want on to your home screen, and then the interface is like an iPhone's but on your TV basically. 

I really just use the TV for watching sports and a couple shows, and then watching Netflix. So for me, the features I care about are good picture and easy interface to switch between cable and apps (and slim profile/light weight is a plus), and this TV definitely checks the boxes for me.


August 10th, 2018 at 7:46 PM ^

Eh, I don’t think that’s a fair statement. There is no doubt that TCL is a great value and certainly something I’d recommend, but on the cheap end I prefer Vizio’s picture and on the higher end range I prefer a Samsung or of course LG OLED. But obviously you’re paying more on the higher end (I don’t own any Samsungs or OLED because I tend to go cheaper).

Thats certainly a personal preference thing, and plenty of people don’t have the same preference... but I don’t think that’s simply chasing status.

I Like Burgers

August 9th, 2018 at 9:52 PM ^

This is me.  Bought a 50" TCL Roku 4k TV off of Amazon months ago for like $399 maybe as part of a remodel and its the best TV in the house.  Better than the 50" plasma in the living room, better than the 50" Panasonic LED TV we have upstairs.

As someone else mentioned, HDTVs are all pretty much the same at this point.  All you're really paying for is extras -- many of which you really don't need.

So to me, if you don't use the TV that much, if you're paying over $400 for something, you're doing it wrong.


EDIT: Amazon has a 49-inch one now for $319.  Buy that and just be done with it.


August 10th, 2018 at 8:15 AM ^

They really do have an interesting idea of what constitutes crap, don't they? I bought the same TV after CNET recommended it, and it's fantastic. The picture always looks good, HD sporting events look lifelike, and I honestly can't find anything to complain about it. 

I suppose it's humanly possible to make a better tv, but I really don't see the point, especially when it costs 5-10 times the price for a slight (or even indistiguishable) improvement on a picture that's already gorgeous. Seems like a waste of money to me.

Whirled Peas

August 10th, 2018 at 10:20 AM ^

I also recently bought a new 55" TCL.  While my personal reaction was "I've never heard of TCL and they must be garbage," a little research proved me quite wrong. TCL has been the leading TV manufacturer in China for years and they're just new to the US market.

The TCL 55" has been rated by numerous reputable review sites as the #1 best bargain on the market for the past 2 years.  I was worried that their overly cheap price of $650 was reflective of poor quality but the analysts say that when they do all their fancy testing the TCL comes out even with many $2,000 - $3,000 sets.  


Im sure you could spend more and get the "best" set, but I'm thrilled with my TCL and notice the difference every time I turn on the TV.  Can't wait to see those winged helmets on there


August 9th, 2018 at 9:19 PM ^

The last time I was looking for a tv, I found a sweet deal on groupon for a manufactured refurbished 50" vizio. I'm not super picky and am not afraid of refurbished goods. It's been through three years and I'm super happy with it (but definitely augmented it with a cheap sound system too). Honestly, if it took a dump tomorrow, it probably would have been a smart purchase for the price.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:22 PM ^

This may not be a popular opinion, but Costco has terrific deals on TVs in the size you're looking for.  We went with all Samsung since they had the features and sizes we were looking for.  We are very pleased.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:22 PM ^

Last year I picked up a Samsung 4k package at costco.  TV, Blueray/4k DVD and a sound bar.  I only had room for a 43 inch.  Buying the same brand seems to make connecting them a snap. 

This was a giant leap from my old tube sony that weighted 230 pounds.  Yeah, I just dated my old self.  I love the new gear.  The $100 soundbar was worth every penny.  Don't skip it or go to cheap. I can play CD's on the blue ray player & hit the soundbar or bluetooth my phone music to the soundbar.   

Go Luck and F##k Notre Dame   



August 9th, 2018 at 9:54 PM ^

Agreed. They also usually have some really good deals on display models which I bought one  a few years back.  A 4k  LG 55 inch for like $480 after the 2-3 year extended warranty Costco offers.  Not top of the line but it has been really nice with no issues.      



August 10th, 2018 at 9:22 AM ^

Came here to say this. If you're a Costco member keep an eye out for monthly deals. We purchased our Samsung TV with their Citi card and received 15% cash back plus another 4% we'll get back combined from the credit card (2%) and membership (2%).

I certainly don't claim to know everything about TV's, but from my professional experience working with different brands (work in Marketing so I produce videos now and then) Samsung's interface and ease of use is unmatched versus LG, Sony and Vizio. The Samsung interface is much more slick.

S.G. Rice

August 9th, 2018 at 9:22 PM ^

I don't really have any helpful advice, but I will say this:  Man, I wish Panasonic still made plasmas.  I have an adequate LED model but would dump it in a heartbeat for a Panny.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:49 PM ^

I the black levels are outstanding, the glare is the only real drawback.  I'll cry when my 65" plasma goes.  I have a hard time watching movies on an led because of the soap opera effect.  Some ppl don't see it but it drives me crazy.  It has something to do with the way the processor smoothes the picture quality.  I dont know but I Kno I hate it.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:29 PM ^

I haven’t read all the comments but I just picked up a 60” Vizio smart tv for under $600 at the local sams club so I’ll assume a 50” is $450-ish?  For the months you don’t have tv service at least you can stream Netflix, etc with a smart tv   

Also, a sound bar and wireless sub is a must.  Any brand, really.  I’ve had a few different ones and they all wo K/sound about the same.  


August 9th, 2018 at 9:30 PM ^

Buy from B&H Photo and you avoid paying sales tax if outside NY. Depending on cost of the set that can be a substantial savings. Just bought an OLED to add to my collection of plasmas still kicking after anywhere from 6-15 yrs.

UM Fan from Sydney

August 9th, 2018 at 9:30 PM ^

Definitely try online because you can possibly avoid sales tax, unless you are one of the few honest people who report online purchases in their tax returns. The stores are simply there for showroom purposes.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:36 PM ^

i've had really good experiences with the Best Buy store brand Insignia.  put 2 of them up in the restaurant that have been on 12+ hours a day for 5 years with no issues.  just saw on their website that the 50 inch 4k smart tv is $329 and the 50 inch 1080p non-smart tv is $249 now.  the guy at best buy said they have the insides of higher end televisions but the cheaper Insignia brand casing.  a roku stick is about $50 if you want to run netflix and whatnot on the non-smart tv.  heard good things about TCL but have not seen one in person.

EDIT:  i run all my sound through my stereo so i have no idea about the sound quality.  that being said most televisions have garbage built in speakers in my opinion so i'd recommend, as others have said above and below, spending money on a surround system or sound bar.  


August 9th, 2018 at 9:39 PM ^

I will add I just bought (and subsequently returned) a 2018 vizio 55” p series. Seemed like a good value but there was noticeable vertical banding. Not sure if a problem with just that particular set but I wasn’t impressed with their customer service so I just returned it. Picture was solid but I couldn’t unsee the bands once I noticed them. 

The Oracle 2

August 9th, 2018 at 9:40 PM ^

I bought a Samsung 75 inch 4K TV on Amazon. It started out in a warehouse in Southern California and was on my porch in Northern California two days later, proving that Jeff Bezos deserves to be the richest man in the world.


August 9th, 2018 at 9:42 PM ^

You don't need 4k but every tv for sale now has it and you're not really paying anything extra for it, so whatever. If you want to spend money for features, proper HDR makes for the best picture; however, if the only reason you really have a tv is to watch Michigan football, you don't need a lot of bells and whistles. Most tvs are fine. 

The only real thing I'll mention is that the Vizio E-Series (like many brands) offers good value, but does not include a tv tuner, which is only important if you get signal from an over-the-air antenna. 

FWIW I have also heard that TCL is a good quality tv for the buck. But I have no personal evidence of this. 


August 9th, 2018 at 9:44 PM ^

This site is a nice tool:   www.rtings.com


More specifically if you're looking at a 55 inch:  https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/best/by-size/55-inch


August 9th, 2018 at 9:56 PM ^

I'm guessing by the gist of your post you're probably not going to go all out for an OLED, which truly is indisputably the best technology out there. It's not just a buzz word like QLED or something of the sort.

I highly suggest the Vizio M series, which is their mid-tier series. This TV does not have all of the Smart TV bells and whistles a lot do, but is consistently rated one of the best TVs picture/$.

For any TV, I suggest monitoring slickdeals.