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By Brad Tuttle
Updated: February 28, 2020 12:53 PM ET | Originally published: January 23, 2020
TVs displayed at the TCL booth at CES 2020 technology conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 7, 2020.
TVs displayed at the TCL booth at CES 2020 technology conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 7, 2020.
David Becker—Getty Images

If you’ve ever gone shopping for TV deals, you’ve probably come across TCL, a brand known for smart Roku TVs sold at surprisingly low prices.

At the height of the most recent Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day sales, 32-inch TCL Roku smart TV deals were available for just under $100. If a 32-inch TV seems too puny to you, TCL has also had 40-inch smart TVs on sale for $180 and 55-inch smart TV deals available for $280.

In fact, many of these TCL TVs have been on sale for weeks for these exact same prices, and apparently they’re selling like hotcakes. If you’ve taken a look at the list of best-selling TVs at Amazon anytime in early 2020, you’ll see that roughly 10 out of the top 25 are TCL smart TVs.

The overall best-selling TV is often the TCL 32-inch 1080p Smart LED Roku TV. The list price at Amazon is $149.99 — and that’s when this smart TV isn’t on sale. It has a rating over 4.5-stars based on roughly 9,000 reviews.

Courtesy of Amazon

Does Amazon always have the cheapest TV prices? No, it doesn’t. What’s more, Amazon deals and pricing can sometimes be confusing, and even misleading. For a while in early 2020, Amazon was selling the 40-inch version of this same TCL Roku Smart TV for $179.99, which matched the Black Friday deal and was $120 off the $300 list price.

Now, $180 for a 40-inch smart TV is undeniably a pretty good deal. But was this 40-inch smart TV really being offered at $120 off — a 40% discount — like Amazon indicated? That’s debatable, but we would say no, not really. According to research at CamelCamelCamel, which tracks Amazon pricing history, Amazon has never charged more than $220 for this model, and it routinely sells this TCL TV for $200 or $180. For very brief periods this past November, this 40-inch smart TV was even on sale for $169.99.

What’s more, Target and Best Buy have periodically also had the same TCL smart TV model on sale for $179.99 or $199.99, though their “list” or “regular” prices are far lower than Amazon. Target says this TV normally sells for $259.99, so a $179.99 sale represents an $80 savings or 31% off. Best Buy says the regular list price for this very same 40-inch TCL smart TV is $199.99, without any special sale or discount.

What gives? As we’ve pointed out before, Amazon is notorious for employing inflated and misleading “list prices,” which give the false impression that the deals at hand are bigger and better than they truly are. Amazon is hardly the only retailer that uses this strategy, which is known among marketing pros as “price anchoring” and has been around for years. To avoid being duped by inflated list prices, it’s best to shop around and do a little research on an item’s pricing history before purchasing.

Here are the other TCL smart TVs ranked among the top bestsellers at Amazon lately. Bear in mind that these prices are subject to change, and that the list prices mentioned by Amazon can sometimes be heavily inflated to make the sales price seems like an extra good deal. Some of these TCL TVs are 2019 models, though a few are from 2018. Also, take note that if you prefer shopping somewhere other than Amazon, you can typically find matching prices and sometimes even cheaper TV deals at Best Buy, Walmart, and Target, among other electronics retailers.

TCL 32-Inch 720p Smart Roku TV: $127.88 (list price $199.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Roku TV: $229.99 (list price $329.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 50-Inch 4K Smart Roku TV: $269.99 (list price $299.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 49-Inch 1080p Smart Roku TV: $249.99

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 75-Inch 4K UHD HDR Smart Roku TV: $799.99 (list price $1,299.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 65-Inch Class 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR Smart Roku TV: $569.99 (list price $795)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 55-Inch 4K Smart Roku TV: $279.99 (list price $599.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 32-Inch 1080p Smart Roku TV: $149.99 (same list price)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 65-Inch Class 6-Series 4K UHD QLED Dolby Vision HDR Roku Smart TV: $749.99 (list price $1,099.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 55-Inch Class 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR Smart Roku TV: $329.99 (list price $699.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 43-Inch Class 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR Roku Smart TV: $279.99

Courtesy of Amazon

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Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

EDIT POST