Is a leftover 2013 UHD TV really a good deal?

You could get a decent discount, but the set might be missing some key new features

Published: February 05, 2014 03:30 PM

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2014 UHD TVs, like this Vizio, will have some new features.

With TV prices falling this time of year, you may be tempted to purchase a leftover 2013 set if you can get it at a significant discount. This can make a lot of sense—unless you're considering an Ultra HD (UHD) TV, which may not contain several new key features that will be included on 2014 sets.

Almost all of the 2014 UHD TVs we saw from the major brands at CES have built-in decoders that can handle the new HEVC/H.265 video compression technology, a more efficient format that will be used to distribute 4K UHD content. All will also have HDMI 2.0-capable inputs, which support 60 frames-per-second video. If you're considering a leftover 2013 UHD TV, we suggest asking the retailer or manufacturer whether the TV will be able to be updated to support these new features; some sets introduced at the end of last year can be upgraded to these new specs, but many cannot.

Curious about other streaming services? Check our streaming video and movie rental buying guide.

As we reported, Netflix is making a significant investment in new technology. We're hoping that some of it will fund the transition to HEVC, which is also known as H.265. By moving to this new video format, companies including Netflix—and likely Amazon, M-Go, and Vudu—expect to be able to deliver higher-quality 4K video streams over the Internet to homes with normal broadband speeds.

If you're considering a UHD TV, we think it makes more sense to wait several more months, when the 2014 sets arrive and you'll be assured of getting these latest features. We also expect UHD TV prices to drop about 40 percent by later in the year, another incentive to wait.

 —James K. Willcox

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