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Should You Buy a Cheap Fire TV on Prime Day?

Amazon's second major sale event of the year is sure to bring some serious discounts on its Fire TVs, and much more.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
Max McHone
David Katzmaier
3 min read
A TV showing the Amazon Prime TV home screen.
David Katzmaier/CNET

This year's summer Prime Day sale brought serious bargains on all kinds of tech and home goods, including plenty of great deals on Amazon's Fire TVs and much, much more. But don't fret if you missed the first round of savings. You'll have another chance to save big this October during the second Prime Day sale of the year, dubbed Prime Big Deal Days. The event officially kicks off on Oct. 10, and is sure to bring some of the year's best prices on Amazon's Fire TV series, ranging from the budget-friendly 2-Series to the high-end Omni QLED series.

There will also be deals on plenty of smaller and more affordable models from other brands that use Amazon's Fire TV OS, but if you're looking to save big on a massive high-end TV, you'll probably want to wait hold off until Black Friday sales. To help you navigate the different discounts and make the most of this year's savings, I've collected some advice about what you to expect during October Prime Day. 

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series smart TV

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 save money on a smaller screen, the answer is yes. We don't review all of these smaller and cheaper TVs, but based on my experience with comprable 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.

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

If you're considering a shopping for a new TV during the October Prime Day sale, 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 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. Expect most of them to be available for steep discounts during the October Prime Day event.

Prime Day TV sales often include 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, and the non-Fire TVs on sale during Prime Day are often relatively entry-level, too. Sure, you might see some exceptions, particularly on 2022 TVs to clear inventory, but smaller, cheaper TVs are the rule.

Check Best Buy, Walmart, Target and other retailers, too

Amazon's major competitors are set to hold their own "anti-Prime Day" sales as well, just to hitch a ride on the buzz. Many of them offer TV deals too, and since they don't have a Fire TV axe to grind, they often feature a wider variety of brands, sizes and feature sets.