Black Friday TV guide: are supermarket TVs ever worth it?

There are plenty of avenues to get TVs these days, whether you’re pacing the stacks of shelves in a local retailer or absent-mindedly clicking whatever Black Friday TV deal comes up on your Google newsfeed. But if you are eyeing up a supermarket television this Black Friday or Cyber Monday, is it really the way to go?

The past couple of decades has seen traditional supermarkets vastly expand the kind of products they offer, moving from groceries to clothing ranges, kitchenware, 4K Blu-rays and video games, and even electronic devices such as brand new televisions.

You won’t get every new TV in your local supermarket, though, as its only specific types of TV brands that tend to offer their wares in that environment. People tend to have a specific budget in mind when they walk in with their shopping list, and there’s a limit to how much they’ll spend there – while the truly high-end televisions out there, whether QLED, LCD, or the best OLED TVs, tend to be available through specialist retailers who know the ins and outs of the gadgets they’re selling.

So, what supermarket TVs can you buy, where are should you get them, and is it a sensible purchase for your home?

Supermarket TVs: what and where?

What supermarket TVs are available? There are a number of budget TV manufacturers that tend to target these retailers, such as Walmart and Target (in the US) or Asda, Tesco and Aldi (in the UK).

These TV brands include the likes of Polaroid, Onn, RCA, Spectre, JVC, Logik, or Blaupunkt.

You will see names like Samsung or Panasonic in our Walmart TV deals guide, but their ranges tend to be a step up in price for the TV size, format support, and panel technologies deployed in the set.

What are supermarket TVs like?

The sets in this category usually fit the following three criteria: they’re cheap, they’re small, and involve a compromise.

Why cheap? Supermarket TVs need to appeal to the income bracket of people shopping in that particular outlet – and while you could drop a four-figure sum with your credit card in your local Walmart / Tesco, the most effective targeting strategy for TV manufacturers is to make the TV sale as frictionless as possible with the other purchases you’re making in the store. That means a TV cheap enough to feel at home on your shopping receipt.

Why small? Televisions you can pick up or fit in your shopping trolley are the easiest to stock in supermarkets, and easiest to fit into your car or method of transport (though a bicycle basket may be pushing it a bit).

Why a compromise? Supermarket TVs tend to gun for the value proposition, meaning you get either bottom-dollar televisions with basic capability – such as HD resolution, little format support, and limited smart TV interfaces – or TVs that offer more premium factors at a reduced cost (i.e. 4K resolution and HDR support).

There are exceptions on all three counts: there are certainly some larger sets available, higher-cost options, and sets that really offer fantastic performance for the cost. But this is generally where things lie.

So, should I buy a supermarket TV?

Whether you buy a supermarket TV or not will depend on your priorities. If you’re on a restricted budget, and you can’t afford a TV approaching $500 / £500 / AU$800, then a supermarket TV is certainly a cost-effective way to get a display into your home. Keep in mind, though, that TVs of this kind boasting advanced technologies like Ultra HD, high dynamic range, or Dolby Vision support will only be providing a limited version of them.

4K TVs vary widely in how well they display high- and low-resolution content. That’s because the internal specs of the television and the quality of its picture processing are crucial to maintaining a smooth, detailed, and visually rich picture.

You do get what you paid for, and anyone bringing home a bargain TV shouldn’t be surprised if they find visual issues like shuddering frame rates, blooming around light sources, and unnatural-looking color contrast. It depends how important those factors are to you, but if you only use a TV in a limited capacity – or don’t want to shell out for a quality picture – a supermarket TV can certainly be a sensible use of your money.

Just make sure you’re getting a warranty on the set, in case the budget hardware gives out before you’ve got a decent amount of use from it.

Some supermarket TVs to consider (US and UK)

Other TV shopping advice for Black Friday

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