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What to Look for in a TV

Jan 21, 2021

In a large store, a man looks interestedly at shelves with various sizes of televisions.

If you're in the market for a new TV we've got you covered with this important decision. There are so many features to consider and you’ll have your TV for years to come, so you’ll want to make sure you get it right. That’s why we’ve created this pre-TV-shopping checklist so you can buy the TV of your dreams while sticking to a very real budget. Let’s check out the lineup.

Price: Decide What You Can Pay to Play

Let’s start with the million-dollar question right up front: How much will it cost to get all of the features you want? Naturally, the bigger the screen, the more bells, and whistles, how “top of the line” it is, and more, will all determine how much you’ll spend. (That, and how savvy a shopper you are!)

And while this is the time to find big sales on big screens, there’s more than one way to fit that TV into your budget. Take lease-to-own*, for example. When you shop with one of these name-brand retailers that offer Acima, it’s as simple as choosing a lease-purchase agreement that works for you than paying for your new TV in small, more affordable payments over time, all without credit*. So while no one can guarantee your team will win this year, you’ve already got yourself a win-win with this flexible alternative to financing.

Screen Size: Make the Right Call for Your Space

It seems the number of screen size choices continues to grow as large as the screens themselves. These days, screens typically range from 32" to 100" in size. For reference, 100" means your TV is just over 8 feet wide (Translation: it’s huge).

And even though it’s every sports- and movie-lover’s dream to have the largest screen possible, it’s best to be practical and determine 1) what you can afford, 2) how much space you have to fit your TV, and 3) how far away you’ll be sitting from it. It’s smart to do a quick web search to see how to take measurements of the TV area in your home and determine which size works best. (Keep in mind that TVs are measured diagonally so the actual dimensions will be a bit different.)

Resolution: What’s Your Clear Winner?

High-Definition (1080p HD), Ultra HD, 4K, 8K … what do they all mean? In a nutshell, it has to do with resolution and pixels. (If you’re unsure what pixels are, try zooming in while taking a photo on your smartphone. Pixels are those fuzzy dots you see.) As lines of resolution and the total number of pixels increases, you get a clearer, sharper, more lifelike picture. So a 4K TV boasts four times the resolution of 1080p HD, and an 8K TV, of course, offers an even larger jump in pixels (33 million per screen), but also you guessed it in price.

Another advantage of 4K or 8K UHD is high dynamic range (HDR) technology, which provides an even greater range of color and contrast to your images. The higher the resolution, the closer to your TV you can sit before you’ll notice pixelation in an image. This is actually helpful to keep in mind when deciding on screen size; because you can sit closer to a 4K set than a 1080p HDTV, you don’t need to get as large of a screen to fill your field of view.

Refresh Rate: How Motion Appears on Your Screen

Refresh rate is the number of times per second that a new image is displayed on your screen. A faster refresh rate means less blur and a smoother picture, especially when watching action-packed scenes. Most TVs have a refresh rate of 60Hz, but you can find models with 120Hz or even 240Hz. The higher the refresh rate, the more expensive the TV and the better the picture quality. If you’re looking for a TV to watch sports or action movies, you’ll want to pay attention to the refresh rates as a faster refresh rate will mean less blur and a smoother picture.

Smart TVs: A Cord-Cutting Game-Changer

Because so many people are streaming content these days, smart TVs are becoming more and more the norm. Thanks to today’s streaming services, smart TVs come with native apps so you don’t have to buy a cable or satellite service to watch your favorite movies, shows, or sporting events allowing you wireless freedom and control.

The best part: Smart TVs are now so popular and widely available that they are also extremely affordable. So you save money on the TV as well as on subscribing to streaming services versus full cable a win-win!

Audio: Add a Player to Your Home Theater Roster

On the one hand, TV models and their video capabilities have come a long way to provide an overall better, more quality viewing experience. Unfortunately, the built-in sound or audio quality may not get the same love. As a result, most TV manufacturers assume you’re going to spring for a separate home audio system that works for you and your room.

The good news is a decent audio upgrade doesn’t have to be expensive. While prices range widely, an inexpensive sound system will offer a significant improvement, while those worthy of a good 4K TV will cost a little more. There are also tons of soundbars on the market right now (including wireless) at very reasonable prices.

Connection Types: Ensuring You Can Connect to Your TV

When you’re shopping for a new TV, it’s important to check the ports to make sure they will work with the devices you already own. Most TVs now have at least one HDMI port, which is the standard for connecting most devices, from streaming boxes to game consoles. Planning for what connections your current devices have and making sure your new TV has the right number of ports will save you a headache down the road.

Warranty: Protecting Your New Purchase

When you're shopping for a new TV, it's important to review the warranty that comes with your purchase. This will give you some peace of mind in case something goes wrong with your new TV. Warranties can vary depending on what TV you buy and where you buy it from. For example, some stores may offer an extended warranty for an additional fee while some manufacturers include a limited warranty with the purchase of your new TV.

Time to Make Your TV Pick

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to get shopping so you can experience all your new TV has to offer during the Big Game weekend. Shop from over 15,000 local and national retailers to discover a world of fast approvals, affordable payments, and flexible ownership options that will help you get the perfect TV for your home team, all without credit.*