What Your TV Salesman Wonít Tell You
By Michelle Crouch from Reader's Digest December 2011 / January 2012
TV Salesman© Jochen Sand/Digital Vision/Thinkstock
1. Buy your new TV in September or January. Thatís when the new models come out and the prices go way down on discontinued models. Another time to get a deal: Black Friday, if youíre willing to brave the crowds.
2. Shoppersí 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 youíre watching at an angle, but theyíre thicker than the others, and ghost images can be an issue.
3. 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.
4. Our margins on TVs are so thin, theyíre 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. Donít buy it. Problems are rare, and most repairs happen in the first year, when the standard manufacturerís warranty still covers you.
5. And donít 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.
6. Flat screens have beautiful pictures, but the sound from most is pretty awful. If you canít afford an expensive audio system, get external speakers
7. Want a great deal? Buy a refurbished set, a TV previously opened or returned. Check the warranty, though.
8. Weíve 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 youíre a licensed contractor, pay for the professional install.
9. 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 donít put it over your fireplace. Itís a TV, not artwork.
10. Even if youíre 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 itís a challenge for us to find the one you need.
11. 3-D TV is just a fad. Nobody is making content for it, and youíve still got to wear the stupid glasses. Weíre pushing it only because everyone already has a flat panel and we need to get you in the store.
12. 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.
13. Donít expect your flat screen to be around forever. Youíll be lucky if it lasts five years. Todayís TVs are made to be replaced.
14. Always have your TV delivered and installed the same day. If itís out of our possession and it doesnít work when you turn it on, we may try to say that you caused the problem.
15. Thinner is not always better. If youíre setting your TV on a piece of furniture, why are you paying a premium for the thinnest technology?
16. Forget 3D. Whatís really hot right now are TVs that connect to the Web. Most have ďappsĒ 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.
17. If youíre 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.
18. If you do decide to get the extended warranty, ask whether the warranty will provide in-home service or if youíll 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.
19. A contrast ratio of 50,000 to 1 may sound impressive, but because every manufacturer measures it differently, itís really a meaningless number.
20. Unless youíre watching a lot of Blu-rays, you donít need a resolution of ultrafine 1080p. Most people canít tell the difference between 1080p and 1080i, and even if you could, there are no stations broadcasting in a resolution that high.
21. Save the box your TV came in, and the plastic Styrofoam thatís inside. If you move or something goes wrong and you have to ship the unit back to the manufacturer, youíll be so glad you did.