When LCD televisions first came onto the market they were expensive, but now that they and their underlying technology are well established, much more affordable options are available. Having said this, any new LCD television of good quality with the latest technology and features is still a moderate investment at the very least. A different option is to go with a used LCD TV. Considerable savings can be made when buying used, but it is important to be careful and vigilant to make sure the television works as intended, has a respectable remaining lifespan and offers viewing pleasure.
LCD Television Introduction
There are some fundamentals to understand about LCD TVs:
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) televisions are the most popular type of television on the market today. It all depends on the brand and model of television in question, but in general they offer very good picture quality, are thin and relatively lightweight, and come in a huge range of sizes, making them highly suitable for all required purposes. They work with a backlight which shines through the liquid crystal cells to create the picture.
The size of an LCD television is the distance between the opposite corners of the viewable screen. Sizes range from small portable screens (less than 20 inches) to very big home entertainment system screens (over 60 inches). Smaller screen sizes are good for personal use, screens between 20 - 29 inches are suitable for small rooms and close viewing distances, screens between 30 - 39 inches are suitable for medium size rooms and screens above 40 inches are suitable for larger size rooms and longer viewing distances.
The resolution of an LCD television depends on the number of pixels that the screen holds. HD officially begins at 720p (720 is the number of vertical pixels) and this resolution is the lowest recommended resolution to look for in any used LCD television. The highest resolutions are 1080i and 1080p. 1080p is the highest and most advanced resolution currently available and offers the best quality image. The picture quality of full-HD channels and Blue-ray media can only be fully realised with a 1080p TV.
Modern LCD TV options can come with many different features built-in, including online media content streaming, internet browsing and directory browsing with external memory devices such as USB drives and SD cards. DVD players and Blu-ray players are also common, and most of the latest televisions now come with digital channel receivers.
Used LCD Television Considerations
Various things need to be born in mind before a purchase is made:
When buying a used LCD TV, the most important things to know are the TV's brand and age. Every television has a theoretical lifespan, and as an LCD TV ages the picture quality diminishes. Eventually, the entire set will stop working, which usually happens a good amount of time after the picture quality has reduced. Specifically, the LED panel behind the main screen will dim, LCD technology within the screen will degrade and components will break over time.
Most manufacturers state a minimum lifespan of around 75,000 hours for LCD televisions. The lifespan can be higher than this if the TV is used with consideration and kept in the right environment. This would equate to between 5 and 10 years of normal use (active use would mean roughly 4-5 hours usage per day) before the television stops working. This lifespan is actually the time it takes for the panel to reduce to half of its original brightness, though other issues will usually become apparent in addition to this. Most products will not last more than a few years after the manufacturer's warranty, and as a general rule issues will begin to appear with normal use after 5 years.
LED LCD Televisions
Traditional LCD televisions are backlit with gas lamps, and this technology is what the above lifespans are based upon. There is however another type of LCD television which is instead backlit with LED lights. LED lights are more energy efficient and long lasting than gas lamps, and this is why LED TVs come with longer lifespans - roughly 100,000 hours depending on use. They also come with better viewing angles and better dynamic contrast between dark and light.
Used LCD TVs with large, well-known international electronics brands are more robust and reliable, uphold picture quality for longer, are easier to repair and generally have a longer lifespan. They are also easier to repair in the event that they stop working, which makes them a less risky purchase and also makes purchasing and repairing a broken LCD TV a viable option in certain cases. Cheaper, unbranded LCD televisions have reduced picture quality and lifespan, and are much more difficult to repair.
The picture quality of an LCD television will worsen as it ages. Typical problems include dead pixels (tiny black dots), reduced brightness and loss of colour. Image processing response times can also worsen and artefacts and other unwanted anomalies may appear on the screen. There is no such thing as 'burn in' with LCD technology because the light source is not on the screen itself so this is not an issue.
Television manufacturers like to advertise their products with a long list of product specifications including contrast ratio and refresh rate. Specs like this might appear to be important, but they are not because there are many other complex factors and processors that come into play. The only truly important specifications to know are the brand, the resolution, the type of backlighting (gas or LED) the screen size and what features are provided.
Purchasing a Used LCD Television
There are various stages and considerations in the purchase of a used LCD TV:
Contacting the Buyer
Given the considerations above, it is important when purchasing a used LCD TV to ask the seller a number of questions aside from the information already apparent (such as the brand, the available features and the resolution). Remember that the nature and extent of usage is just as significant as the TV's age. Ask about the age first and whether the warranty still applies (if not, when did the warranty expire?), how often the television has been used and whether it was turned off or left on standby when not in use. Also ask about where the television was used. Televisions attached to the wall and away from direct sunlight will last longer than televisions placed in warmer, less protected environments. Always be careful with buyers who are unwilling to provide all of this information and buyers who do not give a reason for selling. It is always advisable to meet up to check the quality of the television in person if possible.
The Bottom Line
The importance of the issues mentioned above are relative to what they buyer wants to gain from their television and what price they are willing to pay. Significant savings are available if the buyer is willing to accept reduced picture quality and a shorter lifespan, and for TVs with reputable brands it is most often a good number of years beyond the predicted lifespan before the screen stops working altogether. Researching thoroughly is obviously more important when more money is being spent.
Buying a Used LCD Television on eBay
To find a used LCD television on eBay, the first step is to head to the eBay homepage. The general eBay television listings page can be found from the homepage by clicking on Sound & Vision under Electronics & Technology and then clicking on Televisions. Once at the main listings page, use the search filters on the left-hand side of the page under Display Technology to narrow the listings to LCD and LED LCD televisions. Then click on the Used checkbox in the Condition search category to gain all used LCD and LED LCD televisions. There are many other search filters which can be used to make the listings as relevant as possible. The resolution can be specified to find used full-HD LCD televisions and the brand can be specified as well as the price range. Tabs above the listings can sort the listings according to relevancy, price, distance of seller and auction ending time. The selling format can also be specified with Auction or Buy it Now.
Used LCD televisions can provide almost all of the benefits of a new LCD model but at a greatly reduced price. As long as each option is carefully considered and the LCD television and the seller in question are researched thoroughly, the same enjoyment and viewing pleasure can be gained for many years to come.