Ask Gizmodo: What Thin, Cheap TV Should I Buy?

Hi Gizmodo, my fiancée and I are about to move into our first home, and our current TV is too big and bulky to mount in the house on the wall where we want our TV. We’re not TV connoisseurs and we don’t need all the latest and greatest features, we simply want the thinnest TV we can get with adequate image quality. Ideally the TV will be between 42 and 47 inches and $750 or less. I’m aiming for 2 inches or thinner, though we could go up to 2.5 inches. Used/refurbished TVs are okay with us. What should we get and where should we look? Thanks! Josh.

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Hey Josh,

Now is a great time to get a good deal on a TV, especially for a buyer as pragmatic as you. You’re in the enviable position of not necessarily wanting or needing a TV that is:

  • Large (over 55 inches is where things start to get pricy)
  • Smart (although most TVs these days are, it’s an extra expense)
  • Really, really ridiculously good looking

Throw any two or three of these together and you’d have to start upping your price significantly. February and March is when retailers like JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and even Harvey Norman find themselves shifting more units at lower prices, as their suppliers like Samsung and LG shift their existing stock before updated 2016 models hit the market. Now, in your case, you don’t need a newer model — yearly advances these days are almost all about the internal smarts, which you don’t care about.

With that said, your goal for a TV that’s two inches thick is going to be… interesting. A TV that thin is going to be an edge-lit LED screen, since any kind of OLED will be way out of your price range. As a benchmark, Samsung’s 50-inch Series 5 LED TV is about 2.6 inches thick (67mm), but it’s $1100-plus.

If you’re OK looking at a TV that isn’t necessarily from a top-tier company like Samsung or LG or Sony, then you’ll find something appropriate, if not perfect, within your price range. Just about the right compromise in depth, size and price comes in the form of the $786, 43-inch LG 43LF5100, or maybe the $800, 50-inch TCL L50E3800.

If it was my money, I’d spend a bit more. $1000 out the door will get you a 43-inch Sony W800C, one of the better mid-range LED TVs to hit the market in 2015, with great integrated Android TV software and an excellent overall design. Or, for a larger screen, the $900 55-inch Hisense 55K220PWG is just over three inches thick.

Personally, I don’t think you have to buy a used TV within that price range, although if you’re able to find a perfect condition eBay or Gumtree special, you may find something slightly larger — although likely an older generation — within your budget. In my experience, anyone selling a TV second hand is likely to bump the price up significantly to near what they paid, not knowing that the model they’re trying to sell has already been superseded and outpriced by a newer, more energy efficient screen. You also have to deal with dubious warranty conditions.

A refurbished last-gen screen is also likely to suffer the same fate, and won’t be as steeply discounted as a new run-out model. JB Hi-Fi’s Factory Scoops, although usually only on its Soniq house brand, are about your best bet without resorting to eBay or a cut-price seller like Grays Online. This 40-inch Samsung Series 5 might be a bit too small, but it fits your criteria otherwise.

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