How to buy a refurbished TV the right way: Everything you need to know

Samsung 2019 Q90
2019 Samsung Q90 4K TV

We’ll cut to the chase: There’s nothing wrong with buying a refurbished TV. In fact, it’s the only way mere mortals like us can line our home entertainment setup with the finest hardware manufacturers have to offer, like a top-of-the-line 4K TV — an OLED or QLED TV, for example — or even an 8K TV.

Having said that, there are a couple of things you’re going to want to keep in mind while shopping for a refurbished TV. Failure to do so could just lead to that $3,500 Sony OLED TV you snagged for less than half price breaking down after serving up piping hot bowls of 4K Ultra HD content for a week.

Here’s what you need to know.

What does refurbished mean?

More often than not, when a television — or any other product, for that matter — is refurbished, it’s because it had some form of a defect when it started life that was unearthed by its first owner, who sent it back to the manufacturer in exchange for a replacement or a refund.

However, instead of trashing the troubled model, the manufacturer decided to repair it. This process would have involved it being sent to a dedicated engineering team who would have dismantled it, repaired the issue and tested the television before shipping it to a retailer to sell on the cheap.

Interestingly, because the refurbished device has been under the knife, it’s more often than not subjected to stricter testing procedures than a new model that just rolled off the production line. This is to make sure there aren’t underlying issues elsewhere that could lead to it being returned again.

It’s for this reason that some people believe that refurbished products are actually more reliable than their new counterparts, but we digress.

What to look for when buying a refurbished TV

There are three main things to keep an eye out for when hunting down a refurbished TV. You’re going to want to make sure it’s factory refurbished, meaning the actual manufacturer repaired it, is bundled with at least a 12-month warranty, and is being sold by a reliable, reputable retailer.

By doing so, you’re essentially covering all your bases: It was repaired using factory parts by a company employee, so it will function as intended; if the same (or a different) issue crops up, you can have it repaired for free; and it’s being sold by a trusted retailer, so it is definitely legal stock (i.e., not stolen).

If you stumble upon something that hasn’t been reconditioned in the same factory in which it was made, and therefore isn’t described as manufacturer or factory refurbished, all hope is not lost — if it is listed as certified refurbished, it has been as good as factory repaired by a professional.

Lastly, use your common sense. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Where to buy a refurbished TV

So, who are these reliable retailers we speak of? Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart all sell refurbished TVs, stocking everything from HDTVs and 4K TVs to OLED TVs and QLED TVs — and they’re all either factory or certified reconditioned. There are even some refurbished 8K TVs floating around.

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