ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Tech Savvy: Going for the upgrade

Shorter days and cold weather on the horizon may combine to fuel a desire to upgrade the living room TV. And these days, falling prices are making it easier to move to that big screen. If it's been beckoning from the wall of TV sets found in stor...

Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch Football season, particularly the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, can be a good time to look for a good deal on a quality television set.
Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch Football season, particularly the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, can be a good time to look for a good deal on a quality television set.

Shorter days and cold weather on the horizon may combine to fuel a desire to upgrade the living room TV.

And these days, falling prices are making it easier to move to that big screen. If it's been beckoning from the wall of TV sets found in stores, this may be the perfect time to give or sell that 32-inch flat screen to the poor soul who is still rocking the giant Sony Trinitron tube TV.

After all, there will be binge watching days ahead that make curling up with an entire season or two sound good with a warm blanket and a bowl of popcorn. Buying opportunities are ahead. After studying two big shopping days, Black Friday and the Super Bowl, Consumer Reports worked with a market research firm and earlier this year reported Black Friday provides a generally better time for lower-priced TVs and the Super Bowl can provide discount opportunities to get better-performing sets.

First there is TV lingo to translate. A 4K TV offers four times the pixel resolution of a 1080, which not long ago was the gold standard to buy. But there was a dearth of programming in 4K. That has changed as Amazon and Netflix now offer 4K movies and shows on their streaming video services. Although viewers report even without 4K programming, the TVs provide a visually stunning experience.

So this may be the year to decide if that entertainment center has served its purpose and is ready to be relegated to storage shelves or shelved altogether.

ADVERTISEMENT

"As of 2016, we can freely recommend purchasing a 4K television as your new big screen," PCmag.com reported this spring. "The technology and market have matured to the point that it is no longer a case of early adopters serving as the industry's petri dish for the next big thing. There are two simple reasons for this change: 4K TVs are now affordable and 4K content is now available. Don't rush to throw out your 1080p HDTV if you still love it, but if you're looking to replace your television, now is the time to consider 4K."

Other factors

Other definitions that come up include "high dynamic range." Consumer Reports notes HDR TVs can mean richer detail in shadow and light and "display a wider, richer range of colors-much closer to what we see in real life."

Refresh rates-such as 120 Hertz or Hz-"refers to the number of times per second that a video screen is updated, with a higher number yielding a smoother, more natural-looking motion (up to a point)," CNET reported. " ... So if you're sensitive to motion blur, it's worth checking for a 120Hz model."

Go big or go home?

A bigger screen with sharp images always seems like the better choice. It looks great on the wall of TVs in the store, right? But the living room may be too small to make bigger better.

"Basically, if you've got the space-in your room, and wallet-a massive screen with excellent picture quality is at your disposal," Digital Trends previously reported.

One rule of thumb is a screen size with 50 inches should have a minimum viewing distance of 6.25 feet and a maximum viewing distance of 12.5 feet. Go up to 60 inches and the minimum distance changes to 7.5 feet with a maximum of 15 feet.

ADVERTISEMENT

While that massive TV may seem to work from the recliner at the back of the room, if there will be friends and family sitting closer the screen size may need to be downsized a little. Those friends and family won't want to be moving their heads back and forth to keep track of the action as though they were watching a tennis match. And having everyone sit within a few feet of the favorite recliner is going to be awkward. So be sure to look at the shorter view distances that may be in the mix, as well as the "sweet spot" in that favorite recliner or oversized chair.

Advice from CNET is "bigger really is better" so a bedroom TV should be at least 32 inches and a living room TV should be 50 or 60 inches. "Trust me," the CNET writer reported, "a big TV is a wonderful thing."

So if it's been awhile since the TV in the main viewing room was updated, this may be a good time to start looking. On it's website, Best Buy recently listed a 65-inch smart TV with 4K ultra high definition for about $900.

This spring, PCmag.com noted depending on the brand there were options to pick up a 50-inch to 65-inch 4K TV for about $450, when two years ago the cost ranged between $4,000 and $6,000.

For those with a streaming media player, like Roku or Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV among others, the smart TV may not be needed. And Consumer Reports noted a streaming media player may actually offer more flexibility for upgrades and provide more services. And these days, the streaming media players-that provide content from Netflix or Hulu or even YouTube-have the option of voice activation. So after a long day at work, a person can sink into the couch and say find me a comedy or show me the latest movies. Who says the age of "The Jetsons" isn't close at hand except for those flying cars? So if waiting for a TV is more prudent, a streaming media player may be on the list instead.

And with one purchase may come another. PCmag.com reports those with 4K high definition TVs are probably going to want an ultra HD Blu-ray player, eventually. Particularly when prices finally come down.

So it's a question of clarity. Right now 1080p TVs are dropping in price and making it hard to leave a big screen TV off the shopping wish list. That may be enough for now and be very affordable. Consumer Reports notes if shopping for a TV less than 65 inches or if sitting more than a few feet away from a smaller TV (a 40- to 50-inch screen), the 1080p can be the best choice, meaning a 4K isn't a must have. If the prices are comparable (and in some cases that is already happening) and a big screen TV isn't something a consumer is going to allow themselves to splurge on again for quite some time, the 4K appears to be the way to go, particularly with the picture quality of HDR.

And just imagine watching the Super Bowl on that.

What To Read Next
Saluting the businesses who serve the Brainerd Lakes Area!
Benson and Turner Foods will process cattle and hogs at Waubun, Minnesota, on the White Earth Reservation with the help of a USDA grant.
A recent $30,000 per acre land sale in Sioux County, Iowa, sends signals into the land market in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and even as far away as Indiana.
The family is growing their commercial black Angus operation to include the exciting genetics that wagyu fans are hungry for.