Yesterday I gave some advice to those thinking about buying a television on Black Friday this year. The conclusion I came to was, that for most people, it makes more sense to wait for bigger 4K televisions (where the resolution will matter) and OLED. However, I left open the possibility for those with smaller or older televisions to upgrade if they happened to find a great deal.
I felt a little like Suze Orman telling people what to spend their money on. That's a stink that I can't wash off with a dozen showers.
Today, I want to put the "personal" in personal finance by explaining how I am approaching the decision. While your situation will most certainly be different, I urge you to focus on the process and perhaps try to apply it to your own purchasing decisions.
What is my want/need level for a new television?
That's the first question I asked myself. It's hard to say there's a "need" for a new television. I have a 55" television as it is.
From a "want" perspective, my argument may have slightly more merit, but slightly more than zero still isn't much. I almost exclusively want the television for watching football. Even on a large screen, the zoomed-out camera creates really small players. If you are watching Modern Family the detail isn't nearly as important.
What's the benefit of the new television?
We covered this yesterday when we determined the ideal size of a screen for a television. It's related to the distance you are viewing from as well as your eyesight.
I grabbed a tape measure to get a number for my viewing distance. I typically sit 13 feet away or a viewing distance of 156 inches.
This CNET article gives a few recommendations from professional organizations (such as THX and SMPTE) as well as their own. The recommendations were in the form of ratio of distance from television to television size. The average of the three ratios was 0.7106.
Putting those two numbers together and my optimal television is over 110 inches. Wow! Even if I were to take the minimum recommendation it is 97.5 inches. If my wife is reading this, she's thinking to herself, "Don't get started on putting that monstrosity in our living room."
I make this point not to suggest buying a television that big, but to say that a 70" television wouldn't be that absurd. This assumes that the television elves are making a television of that size while we sleep and wake up to it one morning.
The other point to consider is that I purposely bought a cheap Element brand in 2010. I almost splurged nearly $2000 on this 55" Samsung that had a much better picture (and 3d). The picture quality was large then, but even more so for today's version of that Samsung 55" TV which is half the price of what that one was.
In hindsight, spending $750 for the cheap model was the right decision. However, I now have an older, cheaper model. It is still good, but there is a benefit to going with a newer bigger television with a higher quality picture.
What's the Cost of the New Television?
I don't like to get trampled on Black Friday. I only participate in non-trampling situations. I saw that the Navy Exchange was going to be offering this Samsung 60" TV for $699 which got my attention. (Note: The current Amazon price of $798 might be worth jumping on.)
Going from 55" to 60" isn't exactly big deal, but 4 years newer and with a better quality Samsung is something to think about.
The Decision to Wait
The decision to wait was somewhat made for me. It turns out that the Navy Exchange deal that was being circulated online did not include my local base.
It's just as well. While there is some benefit, it just doesn't seem like enough benefit. That's just my own subjective judgment call. Your view might be different. At least comparatively, the cost is down quite a bit from what it was four years ago. I'm curious to see what deals are available next year.
There's the the little fact that we are still in ultra frugality mode.
Finally, we're still thinking about finishing the basement. I'm hoping to convince the wife to put a little nook that could serve as a man cave during football games. The distance to the television would, by necessity, be small meaning that a 50-60" television would get close to that ideal viewing ratio. That project may be three years or more away, perhaps just in time for a 4K OLED television to be a reasonable price.
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