Tuesday, January 19, 2010

HDTVs Are Expensive. Are They Worth It?

I'm still in shock after TV shopping this past weekend. Who knew that HDTVs were so expensive? (I realize that the correct answer here is everyone. Cut me some slack, OK?)

I expected a new TV to be moderately expensive. Kyle found some nice Samsungs on Amazon priced in the $600 – $900 range. Although I can't say I love those prices, they certainly don't surprise me.

But that was just the beginning.

On Sunday, we visited an electronics store to see the TVs in person. That's where we learned about a vast array of upcharges that are required to properly install and enjoy your new TV.

You need to buy special cords and a surge protector, of course. If you're hanging your TV on the wall, a mounting bracket is required. Oh, and you should really consider hiring a professional installer to hide the special cords behind your wall. If you're not hanging your new TV on the wall, you need to buy an HDTV stand — most of which look like bizarre, futuristic technology shrines.

Then there's the calibration fee.

Call me crazy (or maybe just out of touch), but I figured that an $800 HDTV would arrive ready to watch. Oh no! Apparently, the manufacturers don't calibrate the colors because — according to our sales guy — "they want to save on production time to bring down costs for the consumer."

Um...yeah. I'm sure that's it. Because a manufacturer doesn't pay a third-world factory worker to properly configure the TV, an electronics store can pass on the saving to me...in the form of a $200 calibration charge.

Gee, thanks.

And don't even get me started on planned obsolescence. I asked the guy how long we should expect to own our new HDTV. He said they're built to last for "decades." (I couldn't help but imagine our grandchildren gathered around our ugly TV shrine in 2040.) Then I asked how long his many HDTVs had lasted him. The answer: an average of 3 years (with some duds burning out almost immediately). Naturally, he used this opportunity to tell us about the extended warranty program. Nice.

So now we're at a crossroads. Do we really want to spend more than $1,000 on a TV? Seriously, a TV? Even if we can afford it, is that where we want to "invest" right now? (I'm asking you!)

After all, a lot of people are giving away decent old TVs on craigslist right now. We have a converter box.



Robby and Michelle said...

You’re asking the wrong person. We still own a couch that is from 1979, a couch that is from 1994, a recliner that is almost 25 years old, and we haven't purchased a flat screen TV yet. Don't get me wrong we do have a lot of things that are a lot newer but I'd seriously consider one of those on craigslist until you find a real deal on a flat screen TV.
How about this one.
*Sams Club
32" Vizio 720p LCD HDTV $358.00
Cable Truth HDTV complete hookup kit $29.86
Don't take the warranty. Then install it yourself.

Angie said...

Clearly, I got my thrifty genes from you, Dad. ;)

Angie said...

BUT, if we were already going to spend $350...then why not go a little higher for an even nicer TV...

Oooh, that game never ends!

The Jahnkes said...

Angie- I really don't get the fuss over having an HDTV. it's a TV. and I think you are like me and spend heaps more time away from the TV than in front of it. We bought our TV right right after we were married 12 years ago and its deep and chunky, but it sits in the corner and I can still have actual artwork on my walls. I will have that tv until it dies. The length of time the HDTV is expected to last seems ridiculous to waste the money on. but that's just frugal me.

britta said...

Don't EVER buy CORDS from BEST BUY! They rip you off BIG TIME! I will get the link from my friend where you can buy cords online for just a few dollars! He is a techie guy, so he knows that they are quality! It will save you an arm and a leg!

Angie said...

Kelly, we also have the "keep it till it dies" philosophy. And now, our TV is actually dying. (As in, we often have to hit the side of it to make the picture show up.) But I'm leaning toward finding something acceptable on craigslist. Just think of what we could do with the savings! A digital SLR for me? A new bike for Kyle? Now those are purchases I can get more excited about!

Britta, we do tend to buy things from Internet retailers because of the savings. But it is nice to see things in person before you order!

wild violets said...

Hey there! I'm with the craigslist crowd. We bought a flat-screen in the past year because our ancient one died, but the new one is 20-some inches cost under $300 at Best Buy. No hidden cord stuff, etc. I promise, we're surviving happily, even though it's our only television! Best of luck to you in your quest!

Nate and Jamie Sommer :) said...

Angie!! You dont know me I dont think but I am cousins with Bekki's Husband Ben!!! I have been reading your blog for a long time now and I just about die laughing every time I do!! You have a way with words that is a true gift :)
Now onto the Tv issue, no use getting an HDTV unless you have Dish or cable and also subscribe to their HDTV programming!!! Just another hidden cost to through in there :)........Jamie :)

Angie said...

Hi Jamie! Yeah, we're totally leaning in the craigslist direction right now. We don't even have cable. Why get a super expensive TV? Maybe next year...

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