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Prime Day is a Great Time to Get a Cheap Amazon Fire TV

Amazon's sale today and tomorrow brings some of the best Fire TV prices of the year, including 32-inch models for $100.

A TV showing the Amazon Prime TV home screen
Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This story is part of Amazon Prime Day, CNET's guide to everything you need to know and how to find the best deals.

Prime Day sales on Amazon Fire TVs are happening now and the prices are as low as they've been all year for smaller, cheaper models. But if you want a different smart TV system, or are shopping for a larger midrange or high-end model, prices might be better -- and you'll have more choices -- if you wait until later in the year.

As CNET's resident TV expert I'm often asked whether it's worth getting a cheap TV on Prime Day. If you just want to spend as little money as possible on a smaller screen, the answer is yes. I haven't reviewed any of the TVs above, for example, but based on my experience with similar models I think most shoppers will be happy with them simply because they're so inexpensive. And prices like this probably won't come around again until around Black Friday in the fall of this year.

That's because TV prices follow a predictable pattern. In spring and summer the new 2022 models are first introduced, and that's when prices are at their highest. The first big opportunity for price drops in a year is often Prime Day, but it's just a few days long and after it's over TV prices will remain relatively high until late fall, when the Black Friday sales start. Those sales typically last longer and are spread out among more retailers and brands. 

If you're considering a new TV on Prime Day here's some trends to watch for, based on my years reviewing TVs and tracking sales. They're not set in stone, but they can give you some guidelines going in.

Amazon Fire TV 43-inch 4-Series 4K UHD smart TV

The 43-inch Amazon Fire TV 4-Series.

Amazon

Amazon Fire TVs predominate

Prime day deals often feature Amazon's own gadgets, from Echo speakers to Ring doorbells, and that group includes smart TVs that run Amazon's own Fire TV system. Featured on brands including Toshiba, Insignia, Pioneer and Hisense, Fire TV is also available on Amazon-branded TVs including the Fire TV Omni and 4-Series. Most are available now for steep discounts on Prime Day.

Prime Day TV sales include a few non-Fire TV screens too. Samsung, LG, Sony and TCL TVs get discounts, but they're usually not as steep as those offered on Fire TVs. That's because Amazon tends to favor its own products, especially those that cater to its own ecosystem. That said, many compatible TVs have Alexa voice built in, including most Samsung and LG TVs, and nearly all smart TVs run the Prime Video app.

And remember: If you don't like the Amazon Fire TV system, you can always connect a Roku or Google Chromecast to a Fire TV and use that instead.

Expect lots of smaller, less expensive TVs

If you're in the market for a high-performance models such as an OLED TV, or even a midpriced LCD with a few extra bells and whistles like next-gen console gaming support or full-array local dimming, don't hold your breath. Those features are largely absent on Fire TV models (with one exception) and the non-Fire TVs on sale during prime day are often relatively entry-level too. Sure you might see some exceptions, particularly on 2021 TVs to clear inventory, but smaller, cheaper TVs are the rule.

Check Best Buy, Walmart, Target and other retailers too

Amazon's competitors are holding Anti-Prime Day sales to hitch a ride on the buzz. Many of them offer TV deals too, and since they don't have a Fire TV ax to grind, they often feature a wider variety of brands, sizes and feature sets. 

Inflation is a wild card in 2022

TV prices rose for the first time in almost a decade last year and that was before the current spike in inflation. That doesn't mean you won't find deals and discounts on TVs during Prime Day and Black Friday, but it could mean prices are a bit higher than in the past. If you don't find a deal you like on a Prime Day TV, it could be worthwhile waiting until those sales later in the year to pull the trigger.