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The easy Black Friday guide to 4K televisions

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What to avoid, and what to look for

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Buying a television for gaming can be a tricky thing in 2017, and most of the deals during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond are bunk. You need to understand what to look for before you make a decision, and we can help.

The most important thing is to figure out your budget and stick with it. There are great displays to be purchased for under $1,000, and some that are good enough for under $500, but you have to understand what’s important to you and what corners you can cut. You can always get something better by paying more, so figuring out a maximum budget before you begin is a great way to give yourself a way to begin researching.

One of the best deals currently is this 55-inch LG OLED 4K TV for $1,496.99, a substantial savings from its list price and a small discount from the normal deals you can find throughout the year. It’s one of the best displays on the market at that price point, with input lag low enough that you shouldn’t have any problem playing the most twitch-based games.

Another great option is this 55-inch TCL LED 4K TV for $599.99. That’s actually not a Black Friday deal, it’s just a good price. But that’s what we’re looking for!

You’ll notice a rather shocking difference in price between this and the display above it, but what you won’t notice is a huge drop in image quality. We can also get the version without HDR for only $379.99, which should give you some indication of how important HDR is for visual quality. You can go that route, but my advice would be to wait a bit until you can afford the version with HDR support.

The more expensive LG OLED set will definitely look better — you’ll see where your money went if you decide to go that route — but the TCL display is going to be more than good enough for most people. The input lag is low, the important HDR standards are supported but the remote is garbage compared to the same television sold at other retailers. Who cares? Save some money now and buy a better remote later while you enjoy your games.

If you want to jump into 4K displays without spending much at all, this 50-inch Vizio 4K TV is only $429.99, and delivers a lot of quality if you’re willing to overlook the smaller viewing angle and overall size. The input lag isn’t bad, but you could get slightly annoyed if playing fast-paced games at the peak of your abilities. Lag, at its lowest, is around 40 ms. Not terrible at all, but far from perfect.

The Verge has its own extensive list of deals, if you want to keep searching. This is a topic that can take up a lot of your time.

What to avoid in a 4K display

You could write a book about television deals during Black Friday, because most of them are bad. At this point you’re going to want a 4K display for gaming; it’s pretty clear that’s the way the industry is headed. But you also want to make sure the display has low input lag, which means you won’t perceive a pause between when you push a button on the controller and when the action takes place on the screen. If your sales person doesn’t know the input lag or the website doesn’t mention it, walk away. Quickly.

Resolution is only one aspect of what makes good 4K televisions look so beautiful in person. Make sure the display you’re buying has high dynamic range (HDR) support. This is the technology that helps colors pop, and the difference between a display with good or poor HDR support can be pronounced. There are also a number of standards; you’ll want to make sure your display supports HDR10 at minimum, with support for Dolby Vision being a nice bonus.

The latest displays from TCL and Vizio are both shocking affordable and look much better than you’d expect, especially if you’re not a hardcore videophile. But low input lag and strong HDR support are very important, and both issues will often be skipped over by salespeople looking to sell the highest number of televisions in the least possible time. Most Black Friday deals lack at least one of the important features that makes 4K televisions so interesting.

Our guide on avoiding the bad sets during Black Friday is still applicable, although be aware the suggested models are mostly no longer available. But knowing what you want to avoid will go a long way in helping you figure out which set is right for you.