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The WhatToWatch.com guide to Black Friday TV deals

Here's the dirty little secret about electronics and Black Friday deals: They're not all worth it. In fact, some of them are downright bad.

Can you buy a 40-inch TV for $120? Probably. But the fine print matters, and nobody should be buying a 720p TV in 2020, let alone one at that display size.

So here's what we're looking for this week in Black Friday and Cyber Monday TV deals — along with some early deals that we think are worth it.

What you want

You want 4K resolution

The term "resolution" refers to the number of individual pixels — the tiny little dots — that ultimately make up what you see on the screen. To oversimplify things, more is better. The more tiny little dots there are, the sharper the picture can be.

There are caveats here, though. The TV is just one part of the resolution puzzle. If you have some other piece of hardware plugged in to your 4K TV, it needs to support 4K resolution as well. Streaming hardware that does 4K include:

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
  • Amazon Fire TV Cube
  • Roku Ultra
  • Roku Premiere
  • Roku Streaming Stick+
  • NVIDIA Shield Android TV
  • Google TV
  • Apple TV 4K

And if you're just using the apps that come built in to your TV, that's great! You're already good to go. Probably Because that leads us to the next point:

The apps and content need to support 4K resolution

If you're going to be streaming your content, the app you're using needs to support 4K resolution. A lot of them do already — like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and some content on Hulu.

But there are stragglers. HBO Max, for instance, doesn't yet support 4K resolution. (Which really is a shame, because HBO Max has some great new exclusives, and you'll even be able to watch Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max the same day it hits theaters.

Then there's the content itself. Not every show and every movie is available in 4K resolution, even if your app and your hardware support 4K resolution. Upscaling can help with that a little — that's where the hardware takes lower resolution source material and tries to make it better. And that's where thing like AI processors can help. But really you need all the stars in alignment whenever possible.

Black Friday TV deals to avoid

If it sounds too good to be true, it very likely is. There's absolutely no reason you should be buying anything less than 4K in 2020. We maybe can get behind 1080p if it's on a secondary TV (I have one on my back porch, for instance) that won't be used all the time. But if it's going to be in anything other than an infrequently used spare room, just go ahead and get the 4K model.

Repeat: Do not buy a 720p television.

Also, make sure the refresh rate is at least 60Hz. Even better is 120Hz — especially if we're talking about a 4K television. Again, it's about getting the right tech for your money, and 120Hz cuts down on motion blur, which nobody wants. But anything other than at least 60Hz should be avoided.

Black Friday TV Deals

We're already seeing some decent TV deals ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We'll update this list as deals come and go, so check back often!

Sony A8H OLED — Save $1,000!

It's hard not to think of Sony when you think about top-shelf TVs. And it's hard to pass up a deal that gets you $1,000 off one of the best Sony OLED's around — and at 65 inches, no less. Sony has Android TV built in, which means you'll have access to most every app you'll ever need.View Deal

Vizio OLED TV — Save up to $500!

OLED TVs give you the best picture possible because each little pixel can turn itself completely off. That means dark parts are completely black, and colors are that much brighter. And Vizio is taking $400 off its 55-incher, and $500 off its 65-incher. View Deal

LG CX OLED TV — Save up to $600!

LG's CX series is among the best for OLED. And The 65-inch model is on sale for $600 off. (You can save an additional $50 if you log in with a Best Buy account, so go ahead and sign up if you haven't already.) LG has its own smart operating system so you might well not need to plug in anything else.View Deal

Insignia 50-inch LED — Save $200

Insignia is Best Buy's house brand with Amazon Fire TV build in. And it generally gets you a decent affordable set. This deal takes $200 off and gives you 4K resolution at 50 inches. The TV lacks local dimming zones, but it'd be great for a secondary location that you don't care quite as much about — say, a bedroom. Given that, it's tough to beat this Black Friday price.View Deal

TCL 5-Series

The TCL 5-Series is the new mid-ranger. It's got the Roku operating system built in, so there's a pretty good chance you won't need to use any other streaming hardware. Roku even includes Apple's AirPlay 2 standard these days, which is pretty nice. And you can snag a 65-incher for just $629.View Deal

Vizio P-Series Quantum X — Save $200

LED isn't quite OLED, but Vizio's P-Series Quantum is darned close. This deal saves you 200 on the 65-inch model. In addition to its own SmartCast operating system with all the apps, Vizio TVs support Google's Chromecast and Apple's AirPlay 2 protocols.View Deal

Samsung Q60T — Save $152

Samsung's Q60T QLED TV is excellent, and you can save 20 percent on it. The display uses Quantum Dot technology, which is a fancy way of saying it looks GREAT.View Deal

LG BX OLED

The LG BX series isn't quite as good as the CX series — but it's darn close. And you now have a good opportunity to save a good bit on an OLED TV — which, again, is the best TV tech you can get. There are 55- and 65-inch options here, and a $600 difference between the two.View Deal