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 JanuaryGeoff Robinson Photography/Shutterstock
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. Check out these 29 ways to get great deals on anything.
Shoppers’ questions boil down to this:Sergey Ryzhov/Shutterstock
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?Tooykrub/Shutterstock
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 nonexistentvladibulgakov/Shutterstock
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 cableDeath's Pixel/Shutterstock
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 awfulGabriele Maltinti/Shutterstock
If you can’t afford an expensive audio system, get external speakers.
Want a great deal?Hadrian/Shutterstock
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…Mayuree Moonhirun/Shutterstock
…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 enoughPhotographee.eu/Shutterstock
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 standNaypong Studio/Shutterstock
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.
3-D TV is just a fadMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock
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.
Televisions in the store are set at their brightest levels to attract your eyeSorbis/Shutterstock
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 foreverSam Bateman/Shutterstock
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 dayMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock
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 betterAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock
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’re connecting your TV to the Internet, think twice before you go wirelesstommaso79/Shutterstock
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.
If you do decide to get the extended warranty…JIM MONE/Shutterstock
…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…jannoon028/Shutterstock
…but because every manufacturer measures it differently, it’s really a meaningless number. Here are the 15 things everyone pays too much for.
Unless you’re watching a lot of Blu-rays, you don’t need a resolution of UltraFine 1080pDusan Petkovic/Shutterstock
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. Learn some simple and clever ways to slash your home energy bill.
Save the box your TV came in, and the plastic Styrofoam that’s insideAnna Hoychuk/Shutterstock
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.]