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What Your TV Salesperson Won’t Tell You

Smart TVs, accessories, flat screens, delivery—check out this guide from the experts to avoid common buyers' mistakes and get the most bang for your buck.

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Black Friday queues in Cambridge, Britain - 28 Nov 2014Geoff Robinson Photography/Shutterstock

Buy your new TV in September or January

That’s when the new models come out and the prices go way down on discontinued models. Another time to get a deal: Black Friday, if you’re willing to brave the crowds.

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Man looks at LCD TVs in supermarketSergey Ryzhov/Shutterstock

Shoppers’ questions boil down to this:

LED, LCD, or plasma? LEDs and LCDs use the same technology, but LEDs are thinner and more expensive. LEDs can also be too reflective in a bright room. Plasmas offer the best picture for your money, especially if you’re watching at an angle, but they’re thicker than the others, and ghost images can be an issue.

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BANGKOK - Jan 10: Panasonic LCD TV display at Power Buy in Central Festival Department Store on Jan 10, 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand.Tooykrub/Shutterstock

Which brands do I recommend?

For LCDs, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have consistently been among the best in rankings by Consumer Reports. Among plasmas, Panasonic tops the list. Learn some more secrets mall salespeople won’t tell you.

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TVs in the supermarket. eletronic department store show Television TV and home applianc.vladibulgakov/Shutterstock

Our margins on TVs are so thin, they’re almost nonexistent

The prices are designed to get you in the store, and then we try to sell you the expensive cords, accessories, and, of course, the extended warranty. Don’t buy it. Problems are rare, and most repairs happen in the first year, when the standard manufacturer’s warranty still covers you.

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HDMI cable Red and Blue.Death's Pixel/Shutterstock

And don’t spend a lot of money on a fancy HDMI cable

The one you can buy for $10 online is just as good as the $100 one in the store. Here are some more ways to save big when you shop online.

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Home theater speakers with a flat screen tv on the backgroundGabriele Maltinti/Shutterstock

Flat screens have beautiful pictures, but the sound from most is pretty awful

If you can’t afford an expensive audio system, get external speakers.

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PARIS, FRANCE - NOV 21, 2015: Apple TV 4k device next to 4k Pansonic Plasma OLED display projecting the typical Apple Screensaver of aerial cityHadrian/Shutterstock

Want a great deal?

Buy a refurbished set, or a TV previously opened or returned. Check the warranty, though. Don’t forget this guide to the tech gadgets you should and shouldn’t buy used.

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close up LED big Internet television screen with whiteboard in boardroomMayuree Moonhirun/Shutterstock

We’ve had customers put a tilt mount for a 50-inch television on the wall…

…miss a stud or two, and then have the thing come crashing down. Come on. These TVs weigh more than 100 pounds. Unless you’re a licensed contractor, pay for the professional install. Learn which spot in your home you should never, ever hang a TV.

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Tv living room with window, fireplace and concrete wall

Yes, the TV we just mounted on your wall is high enough

The center of the screen should be 45 to 50 inches from the floor, putting it right at eye level. And don’t put it over your fireplace. It’s a TV, not artwork.

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Man installing mount TV on the wall at homeNaypong Studio/Shutterstock

Even if you’re hanging your TV on the wall, keep the stand

You never know when you might decide to redecorate and place the TV on a piece of furniture. At least once a month, we get a call from someone looking for a particular stand, but TV technology changes so quickly that it’s a challenge for us to find the one you need.

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Family Watching TV Wearing 3D Glasses And Eating PopcornMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

3-D TV is just a fad

Nobody is making content for it, and you’ve still got to wear the stupid glasses. We’re pushing it only because everyone already has a flat panel and we need to get you in the store.

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HONG KONG - NOVEMBER 02, 2015: interior of store in New Town Plaza. New Town Plaza is a shopping mall in the town centre of Sha Tin in Hong Kong. Developed by Sun Hung Kai PropertiesSorbis/Shutterstock

Televisions in the store are set at their brightest levels to attract your eye

Adjust yours when you get home or the colors will be distorted. Check out these ways to kick your TV addiction for good.

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A flat-screen television mounted against a red brick wall.Sam Bateman/Shutterstock

Don’t expect your flat screen to be around forever

You’ll be lucky if it lasts five years. Today’s TVs are made to be replaced.

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Two Men Fitting Flat Screen Television To WallMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Always have your TV delivered and installed the same day

If it’s out of our possession and it doesn’t work when you turn it on, we may try to say that you caused the problem. Learn the secrets moving companies won’t tell you.

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Modern Apartment With Television And Sofa In Living RoomAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Thinner is not always better

If you’re setting your TV on a piece of furniture, why are you paying a premium for the thinnest technology?

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Flat screen televisions featuring SKY products and programmesShutterstock

Forget 3-D

What’s really hot right now are TVs that connect to the Web. Most have “apps” that let you access streaming content on pre-selected sites such as Netflix, YouTube, and Vudu, to name a few. A few, like Google TV, offer full Web browsing. Check out these eight alternatives to paying for cable TV.

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Smart tv connected to the internet modem networktommaso79/Shutterstock

If you’re connecting your TV to the Internet, think twice before you go wireless

Interference is still a big issue, especially if you live near an airport or another location with a lot of radios. To minimize headaches, hard-wire the TV to your modem.

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HIGH END TELEVISIONS A store employee, background, talks with a customer in the high-end television department at the Best Buy Store in Maple Grove, Minn. Retailers, including Best Buy, expect sales for plasma and high end televisions to double from last yearJIM MONE/Shutterstock

If you do decide to get the extended warranty…

…ask whether the warranty will provide in-home service or if you’ll have to pay to pack up the TV and ship it somewhere, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Also ask if the warranty covers such problems as a power-supply replacement.

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Modern television in living roomjannoon028/Shutterstock

A contrast ratio of 50,000 to 1 may sound impressive…

…but because every manufacturer measures it differently, it’s really a meaningless number. Here are the 15 things everyone pays too much for.

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Man at tech store shopping new TV. Looking for a new big screen. Shopping time.Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock

Unless you’re watching a lot of Blu-rays, you don’t need a resolution of UltraFine 1080p

Most people can’t tell the difference between 1080p and 1080i, and even if you could, there are no stations broadcasting in a resolution that high.

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Styrofoam Pieces gathered for RecyclingAnna Hoychuk/Shutterstock

Save the box your TV came in, and the plastic Styrofoam that’s inside

If you move or something goes wrong and you have to ship the unit back to the manufacturer, you’ll be so glad you did. Next, check out these secrets Best Buy employees won’t tell you.

[Sources: David Davis of Davis Audio & Video in Chicago; Dennis Sage, owner of Dennis Sage Home Entertainment in Phoenix; a former TV salesman in Chicago; and Consumer Reports.]

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest