Want to Save Money on a New TV? Consider Buying a 2022 Model
We'll help you decide if you're better off upgrading your TV or simply saving your money.
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Sarah Lord covers TVs and home entertainment. Prior to joining CNET, Sarah served as the tech and electronic reviews fellow at Insider, where she wrote about everything from smart watches and wearables to tablets and e-readers. She began her career by writing laptop reviews as an intern and subsequent freelancer at Tom's Hardware. She is also a professional actor with many credits in theater, film and television.
ExpertiseTVs, Home Entertainment, Streaming, ComputersCredentials
Member of Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity Association
So you're in the market for a new TV -- probably replacing an older model -- and you want to get the best performance for the least amount of money. If you want the latest and greatest, you're probably already set on a 2023 model. TVs do improve every year, with enhanced performance and often some new features.
That's great, but obviously the trade-off is that you will be paying a premium. It's also worth noting that screen types such as LCD and even OLED are mature technologies. That is, the differences between last year's TVs and this year's are not always as big as you might think.
But do you need to upgrade at all? Also, how do you choose between the best picture and features or the best price? Read on, we're here to help.
If I buy a 2022 model in 2023, what new features am I missing?
For the most part, a 2022 TV at a given size or price will generally have similar picture quality and features to its 2023 counterparts. Could you see a difference if you put them side-by-side? Maybe, but it won't be a huge difference. Considering how much cheaper you can get 2022 models in 2023, that potential difference might not seem important.
There's always something new around the corner, but changes from year to year are usually incremental. If you worry about missing out on the very latest tech, it should give you peace of mind that even if something really new hits the market, it's going to be extremely expensive.
New QD-OLED TVs from Samsung and Sony are a good example. They combine OLED displays with quantum dot technology, and claim higher brightness and better color compared to current OLED TVs. One of these new sets might sound enticing, but QD-OLEDs come with a premium price tag, so they might be tough to recommend over more affordable OLEDs like the LG C2. You might be able to find a 2022 QD-OLED model, but it might not be discounted as much as standard OLED models.
In 2023, traditional OLED TVs are also available in a wider range of sizes. Last year, LG introduced the 42-inch C2 Series TV, the smallest OLED on the market, while also laying claim to the largest OLED available with the 97-inch G2 TV. There's also not a lot new with the 2023 C3, making the C2 an even better bargain.
Mini-LED TVs are also on the rise and could deliver close-to-OLED picture quality, but the models we know about so far are mostly expensive. The Sony Z9K and X95K are the company's first mini-LED models, starting at $3,000, while the TCL X925 Pro has a new kind of slimmer mini-LED backlight, and the 85-inch model is a cool $10,000.
Also rolling out across the country is NextGen TV, aka ATSC 3.0. This is free over-the-air 4K TV, and it's moving forward quite quickly -- it might already be available in your city. In 2023, we've seen more TVs with built-in tuners that cost less than ever. Don't feel you need to rush to upgrade or get those specific models, however, since in the worst case you'll be able to buy a cheap external tuner and connect that to your TV.
There's also HDMI 2.1. While 2.1 has several new technologies that are great, it's not going to make any current TVs obsolete (unless it's a current 8K TV, but that's yet another story). As long as your current TV works with your current sources, you should be fine.
Really old TVs, older than 10 years, might have issues connecting to modern streaming and disc sources, whether it's due to an older version of HDMI or the lack of it altogether. If your older TV doesn't work with a new Roku or Blu-ray player, you might need to upgrade your screen.
Do I need to upgrade?
Forget all the new tech. If your TV works and you're happy with it, keep it. Don't feel any pressure to upgrade.
Modern TVs are, on average, brighter and have better picture quality than the TVs from a few years ago. Unless you're the type of videophile who wants to tweak every setting and fixates on nits and color accuracy, however, you probably don't need a new TV.
The pressure to upgrade is pervasive in our tech culture, but TVs tend to last (and be perfectly functional) longer than most devices. They don't, for example, have batteries that lose capacity like mobile phones -- or have external wires which wear out like headphones. A TV from five or even 10 years ago likely works fine, though it might not look as good as the current 4K HDR TVs. So again, if that's not a huge deal for you, you can likely keep what you have for a few more years.
If your TV is having issues, or you just want something larger, that's a different story. New TVs are much cheaper per inch than TVs of the past. You'll be able to replace your current TV with something the same size, that looks better and is cheaper than your old TV. Or you can pay the same amount as your old TV and get something far bigger.
When is the best time to buy a TV?
First, It's worth considering the annual television pricing cycle. Everything starts with CES in January, when new TVs (plus other tech like laptops and car technology) are announced for the coming year. Later, in the spring and summer, most of the new models become available and at the highest price they'll ever likely be. Meanwhile, manufacturers and retailers want to get rid of the old models, so they'll offer deep discounts on last year's TVs during this time.
TV sales are the biggest in the fall and culminate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There are always some incredibly cheap 4K TVs on offer, but that's not the whole story.
First of all, the TVs that get the huge discounts are usually either no-name brands, or low-end models from name brands. They're fine if you just want a cheap TV, but they're not going to offer the picture quality of an even slightly higher-end model. The best TVs go on sale as well, but deep discounts on those are less common.
Second, massive discounts on TVs are rare in general. It might be counterintuitive, but TVs typically don't have much markup. There isn't a lot of profit in a $500 TV. So unless the store is trying to clear out stock, you shouldn't expect a gigantic drop in price even during sales. Plenty of good discounts are available, they're just not going to be "50% off" or similar, unless there's a specific reason that model is getting such an extreme discount. Or it's a doorbuster in limited quantities.
Third, most big companies don't allow stores to offer their own pricing. This is called unilateral pricing policy, or UPP. It means that a TV from that company is going to cost the same, whether it's on Amazon, in Best Buy, or anywhere else. Well, anywhere else that wants to continue selling TVs from that company. If this sounds sketchy, it is, but that's a topic for a different article.
All in all, is it worth upgrading my TV at all?
Here's the short version:
Get a new TV now if:
Your current TV is having issues, or is too old to connect to a streaming service like Netflix.
You're willing to buy from a place that has a price-match policy, in case there's a sale.
You want something bigger than what you have now.
Don't get a TV now if:
Your current TV works fine.
There's literally anything else you need or want to spend money on.
If you've got the itch for something new, but you're still on the fence, consider giving your TV a bit of a makeover. If you've never adjusted the settings, it's easy to do and will probably make your TV look better than it ever has. That might tide you over for a bit.
And if you finally decide that, yes, you're ready to buy a new TV now, for the best deal choose last year's model. For more information, we at CNET have some guidelines and also suggested models from 2023.
Editor's note: This story was first published in 2019 but is regularly updated with new info.