How to Buy a Flat Screen TV

How to Buy a Flat Screen TVUpdate July 2012: I finally purchased a second TV. My previous TV, a five year old 42″ Vizio 720p, is still in good working order, but we wanted a second TV. This new TV will be used in our bedroom upstairs.

We chose to go with Vizio again and this time we stepped up to a 42″ 1080p. I’m not much for going beyond 720p (Over-the-air HD is still being streamed in 720p), but the newer TVs have a feature that’s hard to resist: wi-fi enabled.

Wi-Fi TVs – If your TV is wi-fi enabled you can tap into your home wireless internet and thus, into programs like,, and Netflix. This feature will allow us to use this TV upstairs in our bedroom without the need for a wi-fi DVD player or wi-fi enabled gaming system.

This is huge if you don’t use a cable or satellite provider and just rely on over-the-air HD antenna channels.

We paid $488 for this set at Sams Club. I did spot a few 720p’s in the open box section, listed in the $350 range. So the wi-fi plus the investment in newer technology pushed me over the edge.

Flat Screen TVI purchased my first flat screen TV back in late 2007. It occurred to me that I had never taken the time to provide my thoughts on this big purchase.

I know some of you probably haven’t made the transition to the flat screen TV, but it seems these TVs are becoming more and more affordable each day. So if you’re in the market for one, I hope you enjoy my take on buying a flat screen TV (please don’t confuse this for a serious technical review though):

How to Decide Which Flat Screen TV to Buy

Three factors come into play when I think about deciding on a flat screen TV:

1. 1080p or 720p- In my opinion, unless you are a serious gamer or Blu-ray DVD watcher, skip the 1080p and get a 720p. You’ll save a little money and be just as happy. Current satellite and cable TV is being sent in 720p. So, for regular HD programming you won’t notice a difference when watching your favorite TV shows with a 720p set vs a 1080p set. The TV manufacturers aren’t making many 720′s anymore though so you may have to search hard for one.

Update: These days, 1080p is about all you can find, and prices have come down. So, this isn’t much of a decision anymore.

2. Plasma or LCD- At the 40″ size range, I’ve heard it’s pretty much a toss-up on quality. Above 50″ and I think the plasmas have the advantage. Get an LCD though if you’re not going too big, and if you have a bright room (they have less glare). Also, LCDs are more likely to have a VGA connection if you ever needed to use it as a monitor.

3. Size – In my opinion, the size suggestions out there are designed to sell bigger TVs. In a normal 20′ x 20′ living room, a 42″ will do just fine, and in a bedroom a 32″ will work. The measurements out there are based on an immersion factor (where your whole viewpoint is contained within the TV screen). Basically that’s the kind of thing the average person shouldn’t be worried about. Again, just my opinion.

Where to Buy a Flat Screen TV

You’ll definitely want to do some of your initial research online. Then, once you’ve narrowed it down to 2 or 3 models and sizes, determine who sells your TV and visit the store. Look at the TVs and make sure you’d be happy with it.

Once you’ve decided on a particular set, head home to do price research. Find your lowest price online and call your local store to see if they will match it. Then, just make your purchase and enjoy your TV.

I’ve been really happy with my selection, a 42″ 720p LCD. It’s kind of past it’s prime though now.

Tip about Cables and Cleaners: Don’t buy the expensive HDMI cables at the store, try and score some of those from your cable guy or buy them online. is a good place to look. Also, I’ve never needed the professional cleaners they sell at the electronic stores for my TV. I just wipe it with a dry cloth.

What are your tips for buying a flat screen TV?

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Last Edited: April 22, 2013 @ 4:59 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.