This story is part of The Year Ahead, CNET’s look at how the world will continue to evolve starting in 2022 and beyond.
CES 2022 is technically still on, albeit in COVID-shortened, sparsely attended form, but the important news about new TVs is out of the bag as the annual show opens Wednesday. Most major TV-makers have introduced their biggest and best screens, talked up improved picture quality and dropped buzzwords like HDMI 2.1, mini-LED and 8K resolution. Most will be familiar to TV shoppers, while some that are actually new, like QD-OLED, are mashups of existing terms that still require lengthy explanation.
As CNET’s resident TV reviewer, I can link you to plenty of places to read those lengthy explanations, but this article isn’t one of them. Instead you’ll find my best advice on what those new introductions mean and how, when and even if it’s worth buying a new TV. Let’s dive in.
Do you need a new TV in 2022?
Unless your current TV is broken, no you don’t. But if you want a TV in another room, or your current TV feels like it’s getting long in the tooth, its screen is too small or you want better picture quality or a better smart TV system, you might want a new TV. And if you’ve saved a bunch of money during the pandemic by not traveling or commuting to work or eating out, maybe you have a little extra to indulge that want.
Depending on how old your current TV is, a new model — whether one released in the last year or a new TV just announced at CES — could be a sweet upgrade you’ll appreciate every time you watch.
First look at LG OLED TVs for 2022: The best TVs get…
What’s the best time of year to buy a TV?
Starting in the fall. New models like the TVs introduced at CES 2022 appear in spring and their prices are highest then. Significant discounts start in November and go through Black Friday and the holiday season. Around the beginning of the new year after CES (i.e. now) they’ll remain affordable, and sometimes the Super Bowl in February has the best deals on last year’s TVs. Soon those will start to disappear and be replaced by the new models in spring again.
Buy a 2021 TV now or wait for a 2022 model?
It all depends on how long you can wait. If you want the latest and greatest technology, you’re probably already set on a 2022 model. But if you want the best value, without missing much, a better move is to buy a 2021 TV now, before they disappear later this spring and summer. A 2021 TV at a given size or price will generally have very similar picture quality and features compared to its 2022 counterpart.
If you can’t decide, and you’re not in a hurry, just wait until fall to get the best price on a 2022 TV.
What new CES 2022 TVs and features stand out?
Here’s a short list of my favorites so far, based on prior experience and information the manufacturer provided. Reminder: I did not attend the show and haven’t seen any of these, with the exception of LG, in person.
The 42-inch LG C2 is the smallest OLED TV yet.
LG C2 OLED TV: As the successor to my Editors’ Choice TV for the last two years, the latest version is the odds-on favorite to win again. The fact that it comes in a new 42-inch size is great news for people who couldn’t fit bigger OLEDs into their rooms, but I’m excited to see how low the price will fall on the 77-inch version.
Sony X95K Mini-LED TV: Last year the Samsung QN90A earned my respect as the best high-end alternative to OLED, but Samsung has yet to announce any specific 2022 QLED models, so this Sony is my pick for now. Sony has an excellent track record with full-array local dimming and this is its least expensive model with mini-LED. It won’t be cheap, however.
Samsung QD Display combines OLED and quantum dots
QD-OLED: The first Sony and Samsung TVs featuring a new OLED panel by Samsung Display are going to be expensive, and I probably won’t recommend most people buy over more-affordable OLEDs like the C2, but I can’t wait to see them in person.
Sony’s remote finder: This isn’t a reason to buy an expensive TV, but it sure is cool and I hope every TV maker adopts it soon. It allows the remote to emit a sound so you can find it under the couch cushions or wherever you lost it.
Samsung’s gaming hub: I’m not into cloud gaming, but I love the idea of consolidating all the game-related stuff, including game mode settings and access to consoles, in one place. There’s also the ability to split-screen YouTube videos and your game at the same time. LG’s game optimizer was my favorite last year, and still seems to offer more options, but so far Samsung’s gaming features look easier to use.
Samsung’s new gaming hub for 2022 TVs offers one-stop access to cloud and console games.
What else does a 2022 TV buyer need to know?
Basically, it’s early. CES is the beginning of what we know about new TVs this year, not the end.
Brands I’ve lauded as the best TV values in the past, namely TCL and Vizio, haven’t unveiled their bread-and-butter 2022 models yet. Both are still selling their older TVs, including models I still highly recommend like the TCL 6-Series Roku TV and the Vizio MQ7 series.
And if you’re looking for an inexpensive TV, something you can put in a kid’s bedroom or guest room and stream smart TV apps with ease, my top pick is still TCL’s 4-Series Roku TV. This venerable workhorse hasn’t changed much in the last couple years, and I don’t expect any major differences when the new version is inevitably announced soon. Maybe it will get Google TV, but the safe bet is still Roku in my book.
My buying advice will continue to evolve as prices are announced, new models appear and I get the chance to review them in person. Stay tuned to CNET throughout the year for updates.
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