/ Technology

Ditch your old TV – it’s time to upgrade

TV in bin

Every year TV manufacturers try to tempt us with bigger, better, flashier sets. So, the question is, should you upgrade? If your TV’s more than four years old, it could well be time…

I bought my first flatscreen TV in 2006, wanting an ‘HD Ready’ set for my shiny new Xbox 360. At the time I was stunned by its picture quality and how incredibly thin and ‘light’ it was. I was reminded of this the other day when I had to move it from its current resting place at the back of a cupboard, and almost put my back out picking it up.

While these early sets were certainly slimmer than the old CRT’s, if you tried to mount one on your wall you’d soon end up with an impromptu serving hatch to your neighbours living room.

Of course, TV’s have become better (and thankfully, lighter) since those early days.

Top TV features, low price

Firstly, the sound has come on leaps and bounds. When we first tested flat screen models in 2004, we weren’t impressed by their sound, but there’s been a lot of development going on behind the scenes. If sound is important to you, and you have an older flat screen that’s not connected to a soundbar or home cinema system, a new TV will be music to your ears.

Then there’s the myriad of new features. 3D, smart TV and USB recording are all pretty standard today. Depending on the age of your TV, you might be relying on a separate Freeview HD box – with most TV’s including a Freeview HD tuner these days, you could ditch that extra device.

With energy costs constantly creeping up, you could also be tempted by the lower power consumption of new models. We found that a 40-inch LCD from 2009 would cost you £45 a year, compared to £23 for a 2014 LED model.

TV’s are also considerably cheaper today. In 2004, we tested 30-inch models that would set you back over £2,000. Today, you can pick up a Best Buy 40-inch TV, with all the modern bells and whistles, for just over £500.

Never a perfect moment to upgrade

If you’re waiting for the ‘perfect moment’ to upgrade, then you’ll be waiting forever. TV manufacturers are constantly updating their models, and there’s always a new feature around the corner. You might be holding back for 4K, but you can guarantee that by the time it’s settled in (we estimate it will take off around 2020), there will be something else on the horizon, which might cause you to wait even longer.

If your TV is over four years old, and you don’t feel it’s up to scratch, then there are plenty of compelling arguments to upgrade and treat yourself to a new set, especially for the dedicated TV fan.

It’s not true of everyone. We’ve heard from people with twenty year old TVs who are more than happy and simply don’t want to upgrade, listing the benefits of their trusted old sets as having a fine picture and great sound, as well as being a deterrent to thieves and warming the room…

Are you sticking with your old TV? Or have you taken the plunge and decided to treat yourself to a newer model?


Don’t think I have ever replaced a TV because I fancied a new one. It is always because they cannot be repaired.

Our current 42″ Panasonic plasma TV is now 7 years old but we will be forced to buy a new one soon. It has an intermittent problem that is getting worse that was supposedly fixed under the 5-year warranty even though they said the part was no longer available at the time of the repair.

Our first flat screen TV was (and still is) a Pioneer 42″ plasma replacing a CRT TV where the picture had shrunk and darkened. We worried it might be too big a screen! It gives a brilliant picture, and although it is HD we really have trouble discerning the difference between that and standard. Separate freeview and freesat boxes, and an Apple TV box for iplayer etc. Why would I want to change (until it deteriorates)? My cynical view is that, as in many purchases like consumer electronics, phones, cars, manufacturers need to keep producing products and persuading you to buy them, even though the one you bought a couple of years ago was great at the time. That’s fine if you can afford it, good for the economy, but I’m the person whose two cars are 10 and 20 years old.
My eldest son has just bought an Epson projector that supposedly produces a huge bright picture including 3D; I’ll be interested to see just how good an experience that is – perhaps a real alternative to just an incremental change of TV?

normy says:
22 August 2014

After reading the comment from ‘alfa’ has prompted me into writing this e-mail. I also bought a 42″ Panasonic plasma set about 7 years ago with a five year warranty. Worked perfectly until it was five and a half years old (warranty finished) when it developed a weird fault on the screen. I had one half of the screen working normally but the other half was black. I tried switching on and off the set. I tried a factory reset. Neither did anything. I contacted Panasonic and they recommended that I take the set to one of their repair centers. For a fee (I think it was £24) they will check the set and tell me if it is repairable or not. I took the gamble and took the set to the Panasonic doctor, paid the fee and left it there. They said they will contact me in a few days. After four days I hadn’t heard anything so rang them up to find out what’s happening. They told me they are waiting for a response from Panasonic for some ‘information’. They said they will contact me hopefully in a day or so. Eventually got the phone call to say the set was ready to be picked up. I replied in astonishment that I hadn’t authorized a repair (thinking it would be a big bill). Their reply was that Panasonic had given them the ‘go ahead’ to REPLACE THE SCREEN FREE OF CHARGE! I had as a good as new set. Hats off to Panasonic. Aftercare FIVE STAR PLUS.

I was pleased to read that sound quality in flat-screen TV’s was now more satisfactory. Improving the sound would be the only justification for changing our living room TV as we are very happy with the picture quality [and we never watch in HD because to our eyes there is no perceptible difference in quality – perhaps if I reorganised the channel list so that the BBC HD channels are close to the other favourites we might be more likely to watch in HD, but the sound wouldn’t be any better].

Phil says:
23 August 2014

I suppose Which? is a consumer body but I can’t help feeling that there’s something wrong about throwing away perfectly serviceable equipment simply because it’s old fashioned. Especially after reading the other “Conversation” which suggests that new sets may be “spying” on us. Sure spend £500 on a telly that’ll save £22 per year in running costs; it’ll pay for itself in a mere 22 years by which time they’ll probably be beaming the pictures direct into our heads.

If you haven’t guessed I still have two old CRT models, one of which was bought in 1985. They still produce a good picture, possibly because they don’t get used very often.

Another advantage of the last generation of CRT sets was their great weight and bulk making them virually burglar-proof.

If equipment is continuing to work satisfactorily I think it is sensible not to replace it just to get the latest features – most of which add complexity and unreliability in my opinion. I am glad to see that there are still enough people using video cassette recorders to justify shops selling blank cassette tapes.and there is a healthy second-hand trade in videos

Stephen Baxter says:
29 September 2014

The capabilities of the latest TVs and Satellite are just amazing.
Its older items that are more likely to break down with ongoing cost for video tapes.
You can find good quality LEDs TVs at modest cost that will last 5-10 years.
A good quality Blu Ray or DVD players gives access to a huge library of film and TV.

The price of the new ones makes them burglar proof. They are not worth nicking!!

Lessismore says:
23 August 2014

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Dear Jack Please read or listen to Will Self’s A point of View (PoV) The Affliction of Consumption of 15 August 2014 BBC Radio 4 available on Listen Again podcast etc.

When we can’t repair something then we will consider getting a new one not because it has reached the grand age of 4! A TV is certainly not essential.

Here is another area for you to investigate:

We love your help in finding and choosing something new but not just for the sake of it. You are really missing out on life if you have never practised the Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do or Do without philosophy.



I must be the odd one out still using a 18 year old CRT, which still works perfectly ( although that’ll be the kiss of death on it now ).

And with all the stories I hear of this app not working and that one not working, I’m happy to stick to the dark ages.

Long gone are the days when things were made to last, now manufacturers only seem to make things to last until the next upgrade comes out. Sorry, but I’m not playing that game. Maybe if CEOs were voted off the board with every upgrade then I might.

For YEARS I wanted to upgrade to a flat screen TV, but reviews on sites such as AV Forum, confused me, until a Samsung model was getting fantastic comments. So then to where to purchase IT ? BIG problem as we are on Crete, Greece a lot of the time, as Wife’s asthma much better here (doctors advice was to get out of the UK) Then 2010 TV’s were 50% less in the UK, so ordered from Amazon for delivery to Crete.
It’s great and with added Wi-Fi headphones it’s a different world to hear all the BACKGROUND sounds (like birds etc.)
Only problem here is heat from the electrical items, so will review that and have been thinking of upgrading from 40″ to larger. ALWAYS look at “WHICH” before we purchase anything. Thanks

The only time I’ve ever ditched a working TV was to switch to widescreen, and even then I didn’t really ditch the old TV, just moved it to another room where I use it for all my old videogame machines (Videogames, that’s something else where newer isn’t necessarily better).

I’m hoping my current CRT set will last a while longer yet because I don’t want to buy a flatscreen until they fix the sound and speed up the chip by a fair few knots.

Lessismore says:
1 September 2014

BTW PLEASE PLEASE will you also when and if urging people to upgrade their TVs would you also urge them to find out about the easiest and best ways to dispose of their old ones – both the working ones and the ones which no longer work. This should be factored into the buying process as with some companies you may be able to organise collection at the same time as delivery.

Some charities DO take electrical items – times have changed and whereas once they may not have done they may do now. RECYCLING is an end of life process and upgrading before end of life should be resulting in a REUSE solution. The ‘tip’ is now a HOUSEHOLD REUSE & RECYCLING CENTRE but leaving something out in the rain is not likely to lead to a REUSE solution. There are better options.

Stephen Baxter says:
29 September 2014

Some Charities do accept working Electrical Appliances. Many have CRT sets for sale that I would avoid and go for the scarcer LCD.
For non working items – they can either be transported to a Civic Amenity Site or picked up by the Council for a fee.

Stephen Baxter says:
29 September 2014

I purchased an 32″ LG lcdTV about 7 years ago. The picture was great but sound a bit lacking. With no headphone socket I could not directly connect my excellent Bose Companion 2 speakers. I tried an LG sound bar but synchronisation problems and other usability issues led me to disconnect it. The Program Guide would keep disappearing for no reason. This year I upgraded to a 40″ Samsung LED TV with inbuilt Freeview HD. With continuing problems with Freeview since Digital Switch over about 2 years ago I decided to take a Sky Subscription. This combination is excellent with Sky broadband giving the capability to use Catch Up TV. The resolution in HD is so good that some programs are enjoyable to see again. I use the record feature a lot – if you plan to keep recording medium to long term go for the 2TB box for an additional cost.

Replace a 4 year old TV set? What a scandalous waste of the planets resources and money. Spending £500 to save £22 a year and replace it after another 4 years? Come on, this is a wind up, isn’t it?
Point one, poor sound. Use an external audio system if you want it.
Point two, No digital tuner. Most of us use a PVR recorder, (some even have a sky box …) it is always on and supplies HDMI or RF to the TV set. No need to replace the TV.
Point three, set is over 4 years old. We have had this LCD, HD ready set over 4 years now. I got it free from the local recycling community to replace our 18 year old CRT TV.
Point four, if you are still using a CRT set, well, yes, maybe it really is time to change to a LED backlit, LCD set. The power saving v the resources used v the benefits gained its probably worth it.