Walmart stores will be closed on Thanksgiving for the first time since the late 1980s. USA TODAY
Okay folks, Prime Day is over, Black Friday is around the corner, but that doesn’t mean the deals are over.
Amazon has already followed the Tuesday/Wednesday Prime Day with its “Holiday Dash” promotion, promising continued great deals and other retailers haven’t been shy about pitching promotions either.
But when it comes to Black Friday, which is just six weeks away, historically no product is pushed harder than TV deals.
Amazon says it sold a “record-setting number” of TVs on Prime Day, and you know what that means. You’ll be seeing way more TV deals in the coming weeks.
But you’ve got to wonder: how much cheaper could they be then? Check out a Target, Best Buy or some other big box retailer now, and you can’t miss them – rows of large 43-inch and 50-inch sets, selling for $225 to $300. Amazon’s TV best-sellers, even after Prime Day, are priced similarly, and if you want a smaller 32-inch TV, you’re looking at around $150.
So wait a minute, how can a new TV sell for such a low figure, when TVs to the right of these displays are usually offered for $500 to $1,000 and even more?
Since most TV sales occur in the 4th quarter, and you may considering an upgrade real soon, let’s explore the catch. What is it?
The sets, which are usually made by TCL or Insignia (Best Buy’s house brand) both have 4K resolution, built-in smart TV and streaming and can showcase programming in HDR, which stands for high dynamic range, producing brighter, richer colors. And the sets answers to either the Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.
The catch is minor and obvious. The picture quality isn’t as good as the mid-range and more expensive TVs, which have a brighter image, says Michael Desjardin, who reviews TVs for Reviewed.com, part of the USA TODAY Network.
“What you’re missing is the brightness and overall picture quality,” he says. “But not everyone will notice.”
The TCL series 4 sets win Reviewed’s recommendation for best TV under $300. “Even if the picture quality isn’t as great as the mid-range and higher-end TVs, you still get a Roku streaming player built in, which is fantastic,” says Desjardin. “That goes a long way to make up for a lack of brightness.”
It may sound like a small feature, but it’s actually huge.
The old way: Spend $25 to $100 for a Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick and connect it to an open HDMI slot on the back of the TV. Put batteries in the remote control. Put the streaming remote control next to the TV remote control. Turn the TV on, adjust your HDMI settings to streaming, then pick up the streaming remote to access and control the menu.
The new way: Turn the TV on with the supplied remote control. Have access to programming with one remote, and get streaming without having to adjust HDMI settings.
(However, if you have a cable box, you’ll still need to adjust HDMI settings and perhaps use your cable providers remote control as well. These sets are aimed at the cutting-the-cord crowd, to access programming via streaming and the antenna.)
So should you buy the new set now for $225, or wait a few weeks for Black Friday?
Desjardin says there’s a chance these sets could get discounted, “but there’s a slightly higher chance” the mid-range series get the discounts.
Those options include:
TCL’s series 6 sets, which start at $899 for a 65-inch set, compared to $699 for Vizio’s 65-inch M-series and $549 for the 65-inch Insignia 65-inch Fire TV Edition. The big difference? Bigger screens and brighter images. The best-looking TVs have OLED screens, which are even brighter and more colorful, says Desjardin, and they sell for over $1,000.
Let’s hope Black Friday brings those prices down to earth too.
In other tech news this week
Apple introduced four new editions of the iPhone this week, and put two of them on pre-sale Friday, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Both tout faster processors, sturdier glass and connectivity to the new 5G wireless networks. The iPhone 12 Mini is like the 12 in a smaller body, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers superior camera features. Those two phones will be available in November.
Zoom, the video meeting service, added paid ticketing options to meetings on a new website called OnZoom for online art, music and exercise classes. Anyone can teach a class and charge a fee, but they need to have a paid Zoom account, which starts at $14.99 monthly.
The latest from Google: hum a song, and it will tell you the name of the tune. On your iOS device, open the Google app or find the Google Search widget. Tap the mic icon and say: “What’s this song” or click the “Search a song button.” Then hum for 10 to 15 seconds.
This week’s Talking Tech podcasts
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