This may come as a surprise, but it’s practically impossible to evaluate a TV’s picture quality in the store, according to Claudio Ciacci, who heads up TV testing at Consumer Reports. “The brightness, color, and sharpness are all cranked to make the picture pop from across the floor in the retail environment,” Ciacci says. “You’ll only get a real sense of its performance once you get the TV home and adjusted for your viewing environment.” To choose a set with great picture quality, your best bet is to rely on our Ratings of more than 180 TVs.

That said, you can get a feel for a TV’s viewing angle in a store, at least relative to the other TVs on display. Move to the side of the TV and see how much the picture quality washes out, then move to the next set and do the same thing. Remember: It’s not exactly what you’re going to see at home, but it will give you some indication. See our Ratings for viewing-angle scores.

Today’s thinner sets can deliver subpar sound; always adjust the volume to assess the sound quality.

Whatever your in-store experience, go home and try out your new TV right away—and return it if you’re disappointed.

Last, say no to pricey HDMI cables and extended warranties—cheaper cables work just as well, and many credit cards will double the original warranty.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.