Six Tips for Shopping for TVs at Big Box Stores

There are a lot of reasons people shop for electronics and TVs at their local big box stores. Convenience, immediacy, supporting local jobs, promotions or sales…the list goes on. But buying a TV is a big purchase. One that will stick with you for a very long time. People don’t buy TVs every year. Or every couple of years. They tend to live with them for as long as possible. It makes sense that you should not rush this decision. That’s why we came up with this list of six tips for shopping for TVs at your local big box store.

Do Your Research

Luckily, you are already doing this. But before you even leave the house, you should understand the differences between the types of TVs you’ll find in your big box stores. We’ve published articles that will help. The different technologies command vastly different prices and have different capabilities. Want the ultimate picture? Look no further than OLED. Are you primarily a gamer and want to take advantage of the new Variable Refresh Rate features? That’ll limit your options. Maybe you just need a TV that is super bright because of your glass house. The big box stores will definitely have TVs for you to pursue.

Also, be careful about model numbers. Many manufacturers sell the same TVs with different model numbers at different big box stores. They do this for tracking purposes (and so you can’t price match because the model numbers are different) but it can be confusing to buyers. Know any TV model number nomenclature specific to the big box store before you shop.

Know What You Want

We’ve talked about how to know what is the perfect sized screen for you. It is all about the FOV (Field of View). If you are looking to get the same sort of cinematic experience you get at a theater, you should go for a TV that fills up that same amount of your field of view. If you like to sit about 1/3rd the way into the theater off the back wall, that would be between a 35 and 45-degree FOV. You can achieve that by either buying a big enough screen or sitting closer. Don’t know what size that is? Well…

Measure Before You Go

You need to know a lot of things before you exit the house. How big of a screen is determined by the FOV you want. But before you can calculate that (use this), you’ll need to know the size of the screen and how far you are sitting from it. That means taking out the tape measure. You may find that the screen you want for the right FOV is just too big for the wall or too expensive. That’s fine. Knowing that going in is better than getting home with your new TV and saying, “That big box store ripped me off! This thing is way too small!” Knowing the size you want before you leave the house is imperative.

Take Control

We are of the opinion that you can shop for TVs simply based on specifications and professional reviews. Nearly every TV has a review (don’t trust the ones from Amazon or the big box stores) and they will tell you about the actual performance of the TVs. But if you want to see for yourself, you need to take control. Get the employee to give you the remote. Play around with the menus. Don’t be afraid to adjust the settings. Believe us, they sometimes do that just to make the higher profit margin TVs look brighter and therefore more desirable. Just remember that you are in a large space with lots of fluorescent lights. The picture quality and contrast can not be accurately judged unless your home is the same.

Look Down

The big box stores like to mount all the TVs to a wall because it looks cool. But what it doesn’t tell you is what the feet on the TV look like. If you are going to mount your new TV to the wall, this is not an issue. But if you have a piece of furniture (especially an existing piece of furniture) that you are planning on using (you measured the top, right?), then you need to know that the feet will fit. The newer TVs tend to have feet very far spread out rather than the central base you might expect. Don’t be afraid to ask the employees to show you where the feet would attach so you can measure.

Check the Return Policy

One of the joys of buying from a local big box store is that you can bring your new TV home that day. One of the other joys is that you can bring it right back and replace it if there is a problem. No waiting for weeks as you ship it back to Amazon or whatever. Make sure you double-check the return policy for ease and fees before you pay. You don’t want to get your new TV home and find out it will cost you a 15% restocking fee just to exchange it.


Being prepared is not just a scouting saying, it is a life hack. If you are prepared to shop for a TV, regardless if it is online or at a big box store, you are much more likely to be successful. Follow our tips and you’ll end up with the perfect new TV for your home.

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