Move over, MLB - the NFL regular season begins next week Thursday, September 4th. If you're planning on hosting a get-together this season, or if you just want a more ideal viewing experience, you're probably in the market for a new HDTV. Unfortunately shopping for an HDTV will subject you to lots of jargon and marketing gimmicks that don't mean much.
More than "Smart" features, refresh rates, or even viewing angles, the number one thing everyone want to splurge on is size. I personally mounted a 50-inch in my living room last year. I did this because 50-inch TVs are noticeably cheaper than 55-inch TVs (at the time) and because I had it on a swivel mount so I was nervous about weight. However, I felt embarrassed during my party. We crammed everyone in the room, but the TV felt small for just about everyone. Looking back, bumping up to a 60-inch would have been well worth the money, and truth be told, you never hear someone complain they bought a TV that's too large.
For a living room, I'd recommend going AT LEAST 50 inches. Even if you think the room doesn't need such a large TV, you won't regret it. If you really want, you could calculate the optimal viewing distance with this equation from Wikipedia:
I hate complicated math. That's all well and good if you make a living producing electronics, but if you're a simple man like me, you need a simple equation. The Everyman formula goes like this: take the screen size in inches and move the decimal place one over for how many feet you should stand away. That's more of a minimum, so if you want to get fancy, you can multiply that number by 1.5 and get a maximum optimal viewing distance number. Going by this formula, a 50-inch HDTV's optimal viewing distance is between 5 feet and 7.5 feet.
If you want the best bang for your buck on HDTV screen size, follow this formula. Going back to my example, I have a 50-inch LG HDTV mounted in the living room and it feels just a hair too far away. The minimum viewing distance from someone on the couch to the TV is 8 feet. I notice a slight loss of picture quality, most notably in an NFL game when trying to read the scores in the corner of a screen (eyesight is fine). After applying this equation, my room would be best suited to a 55-60 inch HDTV. If you're not sure what size to get, this formula is a huge help.
Now there are a ton of other gimmicks out there plaguing the HDTV market. In theory, a higher refresh rate should mean more frames per second for ideal sports or video game watching... but don't be afraid to sacrifice hertz for screen size. Without two TVs next to each other to compare, you won't notice the difference. Another gimmick is an Internet connecting "Smart TV" which will often cost hundreds more for the same specs without "Smart" technology. Smart TVs are nice, but you can get basically all the same features from a Roku, modern video game system, or even a $35 Chromecast.
The Five Best HDTV Bargains this Weekend
Below we've scoured the Internet for the best 5 bang-for-your-buck HDTVs with an emphasis on Screen Size:
50-inch Seiki SE50UY04 2160p 4K Ultra HD LED TV for $449 with free shipping at Walmart (normally $700).
If you thought about going 4K, you will not beat this price tag. It's not a Smart TV, but as we've noted before, a $35 Chromecast will do the trick for hundreds less than competitor models.
55-inch RCA LED55C55R120Q 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV for $500 with free shipping at Best Buy (normally $650).
RCA is like the RC Cola of HDTVs. It's been in the game for a while and is no longer considered a brand name, but who cares at this price?
60-inch Seiki SE60GY24 LED HDTV for $585 with free shipping at TigerDirect (use coupon CTVSAVE10).
This hot bargain is a limited time offer. Today TigerDirect threw this model up on their eBay page with a 10% off coupon code that is only good through tomorrow, August 28th.
65-inch Samsung UN65H6350 120Hz LED Smart HDTV for $1,498 from Walmart (normally $2,200).
You'll notice we haven't included many name brands yet. A name brand gives you a better chance of avoiding a dud, but almost certainly guarantees you'll overpay, with the exception maybe of this Samsung 65-inch at Walmart. It's a Smart TV with a decent refresh rate and 4 HDMI ports. Everything you need with name brand recognition.
70-inch VIZIO E700i LED Smart HDTV for $1,500 free shipping at BuyDig (normally $1,600).
Vizio released this huge 70-incher back in July of 2014. This unbeatable price can be found at other retailers like Walmart but with a huge $130 shipping charge. BuyDig on the other hand is the best we can find, offering free shipping on an 83 pound HDTV!
$699.99$449.99at Best Buy
$809.99$599.99at Dell Home