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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.]