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To Get a New Television or Not on Black Friday

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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.

Posted on November 25, 2014.

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5 Responses to “To Get a New Television or Not on Black Friday”

  1. Revanche says:

    I have to admit that I was pondering this very thing: we still have an old tube tv and no longer have a place to put it so we’re in the process of getting rid of it. Do we NEED a replacement… or do we just settle for being a 1 tv household? (Also going into ultra frugal mode so that’s a factor.) Honestly right now I might just peer over at CyberMonday and see if that has any truly compelling deals, but Black Friday never really sounds all that good to me.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I might be really tempted if I still had an old television. I think most 32″ are under $200, so depending on the “ultra” of the frugality mode, it can be a good upgrade for not a lot of dough.

      Emily, I’m hoping that we’ll see more OLEDs in stores. I’m hoping an example gets into every Best Buy so that people can at least see them. (I’m more hoping that they get into warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and BJ’s, but that might be a year).

  2. Joseph Hogue says:

    101 inch TV? That would be awesome!

    Hmm, not sure. I am as frugal as the next guy but watching a movie on a big screen TV is one of my ‘spoil me’ things. I can see the point in waiting though for prices on the new tech to come down.

  3. Jeffrey Schultz says:

    We kept our old tube tv a lot longer than most people on the planet. When we got the flat screen two years ago we bought it right before the Super Bowl. That was a great time to get a new TV. Lots of sales. We researched on line then when to the electronic store and looked at the various tv’s. Once we decided on one we went home and bought it online. It was delivered in days to our front door (it would not have fit in the car). And the shipping was free.

  4. Mimi says:

    When our old tube tv finally busted out after serving us a good 10 years, we had the dilemma of whether to buy a new one or not. We still had an extra television in our spare room that we didn’t want to put out (because that means when we use that room, we’d have to move the tv. Yeah, we’re lazy like that. haha!) Part of our problem was we didn’t really have any money to buy a new one. I mean, we’re budgeting and a new TV isn’t in our list. Anyway, it seems prices are always going down as months or years pass because when we bought our 32″ about 2 years ago, the price of that same size and brand (although different feature, ex. OLED and similar) is significantly lower. Plus, there’s always a sale going on somewhere in our area so we don’t really need the big price slash during Black Friday.

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