Hi Gizmodo, I am looking for a new TV and thought you may be able to help. I'm considering either a Samsung UA60H7000 (factory second with 5yr warranty) for $1850, or an LG 60LF6300 new, with 1 year warranty for $1800. I can't work out which is the better buy! Would you be able to help me? Cheers, Sam.
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There are a few different factors to consider here. Picking a TV is a difficult proposition in the first place, since there are so many different variants out there, but you've done the most important thing — locked in your price range. Knowing roughly how much you want to spend lets you set your sights more specifically and check out half a dozen different competitors. With $1800 being the rough price you're looking to spend, I'd consider anything in the $1600-$2200 range, because you might find an especially good deal or find something that's just about to go on sale from the higher side of things.
The two TVs you've mentioned are both mid-range 60-inch LED edge-lit LCDs with a 1080p Full HD native resolution — they're nearly identical in that regard. When you're viewing Netflix or a Blu-ray, they'll look similar from a straightforward technical standpoint. You'll get the same enjoyment from each when you're kicking back and watching a movie. Sure, you'll get a better picture from a $3000 OLED TV, or a higher resolution from a $3000 Ultra HD panel, but for the compromise of size and picture quality and price you're in the perfect price bracket. A few years ago, I wrote that $1300 was the perfect price for a 50- to 55-inch TV. Right now, I'd say that the perfect price for a 60-inch is bang on $1800.
What is different between your two top choices, though, is that one is a 2015 model and one is from 2014. The newer screen will (and does, from my experience) change channels faster, have more picture adjustment features, and will be supported with new 'net-connected gizmos and gadgets and new apps for a longer period. At the same price, that's the obviously better choice of the two. There's no substitute for trying out the two in-store and seeing what interface and remote control you like. Don't give too much credence to in-store picture, though; those settings are massively boosted to look impressive in a bright showroom and don't accurately represent what you'll see in your living room on a summer's evening.
You're also getting a great price on that LF6300, and it's a TV I liked when I reviewed it in May. That said, I'd do a little more shopping around. If you're willing to compromise on size and drop to a 55-inch screen, you can get yourself an entry-level Ultra HD panel; that means better image quality when you're feeding it a high quality source like a Blu-ray or top-tier Netflix stream. Spending another couple of hundred dollars will also get you into the updated 2015 edition of that still-excellent 2014 Samsung you're already considering.
On warranties, you're trading off a 5-year factory warranty on a factory second model versus a 1-year warranty on a brand new screen. Basically, you have to balance the value of buying a brand new TV — one that is straight out of the box and that has never been dismantled and repaired — versus one that has been refurbished or that has a defect, but that has a longer warranty because of that. It all depends what the reason for it being a factory second is — Does it just have a cosmetic blemish on the bezel? Are there dead pixels that will mar your viewing? Did it have internal components replaced due to a fault? — and only you can decide whether you're willing to take what might be an extra risk that requires the screen be returned and replaced.
Your statutory warranty rights also apply, too — so a 1- versus a 5-year warranty isn't necessarily as clear-cut a choice as it seems. At the end of the day, if your TV is out of its manufacturer-suggested warranty period, but within the period that a reasonable consumer would expect a TV to last for — the Australian Consumer Law calls it "acceptable quality" in New South Wales — then you should be able to get it repaired or replaced with the help of Fair Trading (or the equivalent body in your state).
Enjoy your new TV!