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The Pitfalls of Black Friday: What You Should Know

November 26th, 2009 · 18 Comments · LCD Flat Panel, News, Plasma

Emerson LC320EMX_l

(11/26/2009) The HD Guru responds to readers’  Black Friday Sale questions.

Q: Walmart’s 32″ Emerson HDTV is on sale $248. Is it a deal or no deal?

A: Any 32″ HDTV for $248 is an excellent price, however we have investigated Emerson’s warranty and it sours us on the purchase. Why?  Most major (and some minor) TV brands provide a one year warranty with parts and labor, the Emerson TV warranty is only 90 days labor/1 year parts. Learning this, we called Emerson to find out how much “out of warranty” service costs.

Emerson kindly referred us to it local authorized repair shop. Only independently owned and operated repair shops service Emerson HDTVs (according to Emerson customer service).  Our local shop told us there is a minimum repair labor charge of $150.  If the set is not functioning due to a failed part (which is almost always the case) the entire circuit board containing the bad part is replaced. at a minimum cost of $100.

To sum it up this “bargain” HDTV, should it break, will cost the owner at least $150 after the 90th day of ownership and at least $250 to repair after the one year warranty is over. No deal!

Q: What about the 32″ Westinghouse LCD at Target for just $246?

A: Westinghouse offers a 1 year parts and labor warranty on its TVs. We were not able to contact Westinghouse to learn if local service is available; it probably is, however, we did learn Westinghouse TVs have one of the poorest reliability records in the TV industry. Consumer Reports’ (CR) latest consumer survey says 8% percent of Westinghouse TVs failed during ownership.  CR adds, (but does not break it down to brand) overall 73% of the failures in the survey came within the first 12 months of ownership, allowing full warranty repair coverage by Westinghouse (but not Emerson) if the failure occurs within the first year.

Sony Panasonic and JVC owners report a 2% failure rate, one-quarter of Westinghouse’s. CR did not report on the length of time repairs required. Keep all this in mind before going for the Westinghouse.

Q: What about the under $100 Blu-ray Players?

A: It depends. There are two things to consider when buying a Blu-ray player: features and reliability. On the features side, look for a player with an Internet connection.

Blu-ray disc features are still in flux and a player needs to be updated periodically to be able to play discs released after the player is manufactured. If the player doesn’t have an internet connection, you will have to either download and burn a CD or DVD (depends on the player) to upgrade it, or request an upgrade disc from the player’s maker. If the player has an Ethernet jack, you can get upgrades whenever they become available. All Blu-ray profile 2.0 players have an Ethernet jack.

On the reliability side, unlike HDTVs which are all electronic, Blu-ray players have both sophisticated electronic components and mechanically parts.  Better built players should last longer.

Walmart’s Magnavox NB500MG1F on Black Friday Sale for $78 is a BD profile 1.1 player, lacking an Ethernet jack. And like the Emerson HDTV, it too has just a 1 year parts/90 day labor warranty

The Sony BDP-S360 on Black Friday sale at Target and Best Buy for $149.99 is a BD profile 2.0 player with an Ethernet jack and a one year parts and labor warranty.

The best deal we found is the Panasonic DMP-BD60. Its Black Friday sale price is  just $99.97 at northeast regional 57 store chain P.C. Richard & Son. Currently you can get it at Amazon for $124.99 with free shipping and a free Blu-ray of the movie ‘UP’.  The DMP-BD60 is a BD Profile 2.0 player. It adds Video on Demand capability along with excellent performance.

Bottom line, HD Guru recommends purchasing a BD Profile 2.0 made by the top Blu-ray player companies, Samsung, LG, Panasonic or Sony.

Q: The salesman says I need an expensive high speed HDMI cable for my 120Hz/240Hz HDTV.  Is this true?

A:No! The speed of all signals is the same, it is the data transfer rate and bandwidth requirements that double when switching from a 1080i broadcast signal to a 1080p/60Hz Blu-ray signal. However, there are no 120 Hz or 240 Hz signal sources for 120 Hz/240 Hz TVs. The change to 120 or 240 Hz occurs within the TV and the bandwidth requirements for the cable are the same as any other HDTV.

You can find HDMI cables  2 meters long for under four dollars (including shipping) at the HD Guru Amazon website. Any 2 meter cable will provide your HDTV with the full HDTV signal and a perfect picture. To check it our just roll over the link and click.

There are differences in construction quality among cables, however, so if you do a great deal of plugging and unplugging you may wish to spend a bit more to get a better built cable. Just don’t expect a better quality picture!

Q:The salesman says I need an expensive Power Conditioner for my HDTV to get the best picture? Is this true?

A:No. Unless you reside in a home that is adjacent to a power substation and/or other major interference causing entities you should not need one. All HDTVs “condition” the power within their chassis’. Save the money for better things such as a Blu-ray player.

Q:Should I buy a Surge Protector?

A: Yes. We prefer ones that self-test and have an indicator light that tells you if the protector is functioning properly. Surge protectors can fail after a single surge and without an indicator light, you will not know if it is working properly or just passing the next surge through and leaving your HDTV unprotected. An alternative is an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). They all have built-in surge protectors and will provide your connected components with continuous power during short-term blackouts or brownouts. They are especially useful for Cable and Satellite DVRs, as you will lose your program and possibly damage the hard drive if you have a sudden loss of power without a UPS connected to the DVR.

Note: Part of the content above has been updated from previously published articles.

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Copyright ©2009 HD Guru Inc. All rights reserved. HDGURU is a registered trademark. The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission. The content within is based upon information provided to the editor, which is believed to be reliable. Data within is subject to change. HD GURU is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • travesti

    Then I saw the Samsung very vibrant and colorful. I immediately put down the cheap tv and decided to spend an extra $200 on my second TV. Absolutely no problems and am very happy with the overall look of the tv, the more expensive brands also ‘look’ nicer, and seem to be built better and more modern. Wow, $600 today could almost get you that 50in 720p tv going around this black friday. No matter what brand that makes a 720p 50in, the picture has to be crap. That is way too big to not have 1080p.

  • Lunasdude

    @DavidB I often find that your correct, in that stores will more often than not degrade any brand their not interested in selling.
    I rarely find that BM stores will take the time to properly calibrate ANY of their sets.
    I personally watched a BB employee get quite irate when I ran across a remote to a TV I was interested in (while helping a friend buy a set) and proceeded to change the settings to more closely match the surrounding sets.
    HE got real pissed and said that I should not mess with the settings that the sets are “calibrated” to look that way!
    I asked him if he really thought a TV is “calibrated” to look bad and that maybe it was just to make sure the higher $$ set next to it looked great!
    He said something under his breath and walks away.
    I have a Vizio 55″ led backlit TV and believe that this brand is the sleeper of the industry.
    Time will tell.

  • DavidB

    @Greg:
    Your “600Hz plasma” doesn’t need any different cable feeding it than the 120/240Hz LCD’s Guru mentions. All that Hz increasing takes place (as he said) IN THE TV.

    @Brett:
    Congratulations for falling for an old marketing trick. Make a cheap on sale TV look like crap on the display model that’s right beside a more expensive model, and a WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE will go buy the more expensive one (thus more profit for said sellor). Not speaking to the merits of either TV, but if you made your buying decision solely as described, could I interest you in some beautiful Florida waterfront property?

  • Tanya

    Thanks for the great info. I’m interested in the self-test surge protectors. I’m not finding anything online that distinguishes them as such. So i’m not sure exactly what i’m looking for. Please point me in the right direction. Thanks so much.

  • Greg

    Thank You HD Guru. I failed to mention this in my original post, but I am asking in reference to a TC-P42S1 which I just purchased last night (based on your review, of course…thanks!). Does any of the advice you gave me change with acknowledgement that this is a 600Hz plasma? I assume the original question you answered in this article was in reference to 120Hz/240Hz LCD HDTVs.

    Please correct me/clarify if I am wrong.

  • Greg

    I’m still not clear on the HDMI cable issue. In fact, it’s the most confusing part of this entry for me. If I get a blu-ray for x-mas, will the amazon cable you linked to suffice? If not, what specs should I look for when getting an HDMI cable for a blu-ray hookup?

    I got the impression that you’re saying the amazon HDMI cables would suffice for most circumstances, with the exception of blu-ray.

    Can anyone help?

    Every 2 meter HDMI cable I have used over the years functioned perfectly with all sources and all signals up to and including Blu-ray 1080p/60.

    Long length cables require heavier gauge wires to pass the signal. I have never tested long length cables so I can not vouch for one brand over another. However, if you have a picture that is clear and continuous (no black outs) than the cable you chose is perfect.

    Bottom line, you do not have to spend big bucks to get perfectly good HDMI cables. Don’t spend $50 or more on a 2 meter HDMI cable, buy one on Amazon for far less, it will provide perfect results.

    HD Guru

  • Philip

    Bought a 42″ Westinghouse in 2007 for $800, which means it was around half as much as the next lcd tv.

    Even though image is not as good as that of some more expensive brands it is still more than good enough for anyone not watching a black and white david lynch movie and the tv itself has been trouble-free.

  • Jigolo

    Really great information on this blog, would love link you on my site My Cheap Tech.

  • Online Full Free

    You mention a few blu-ray players which are/aren’t good deals on black Friday. but one you left out was the Insignia blu-ray player at best buy for $99 with 1 movie. How does this rank. It has netflix streaming (and thus an ethernet port).

  • Jigolo

    Does anyone ever take into consideration how much electricity it takes to power these TVs? At least the Westinghouse model states that it is 20% more efficient than Energy Star 3.0 standards.

  • Tv Fan

    I bought a 32″ Westinghouse TV in 2006, still works great, even after a move. Your numbers are suspect because I think 50% of the population is less smart than the rest, and 10% of the lower half are too stupid to turn on the TV, much less figure out the volume is all the way down when the return it for “not working.”

  • Brett

    Last year I went to Radioshack to buy an AOC 32in lcd tv for $400, I already had a 42in Samsung plasma. I stood in line with it, staring at $600 32in Samsung, could that one be better? Then I looked at the display tvs, and saw the AOC (which I think is interchangeable with Emerson or some other low-end brand) and I saw how dull the picture was. Then I saw the Samsung very vibrant and colorful. I immediately put down the cheap tv and decided to spend an extra $200 on my second TV. Absolutely no problems and am very happy with the overall look of the tv, the more expensive brands also ‘look’ nicer, and seem to be built better and more modern. Wow, $600 today could almost get you that 50in 720p tv going around this black friday. No matter what brand that makes a 720p 50in, the picture has to be crap. That is way too big to not have 1080p.

  • Grant

    Does anyone ever take into consideration how much electricity it takes to power these TVs? At least the Westinghouse model states that it is 20% more efficient than Energy Star 3.0 standards.

  • Westinghouse-Fan

    Maybe my parents are just out of the ordinary on this one, but they own not one, but two Westinghouse TVs, one 2 years old and the other going on its 5th year. Both still look great (I’m still amazed by the picture on the 5-year-old) and they haven’t had a problem with either since purchase.

    Either way, if you’re concerned about the longitivity of the Westinghouse from Target, they offer an extended warranty for a little bit extra. Plus, as the article mentioned, most of those that failed did so within the manufacturer’s year warranty, so while it is a hassle to deal with getting it returned/fixed, it is better than having to pay to get it fixed.

  • hd-guy

    Adam, you have a problem with one product from a manufacturer and then avoid that manufacturer? I have a westinghouse that has been flawless for 4 years. You are not an intelligent consumer.

  • adam

    the westinghouse TV i bought about 2 years ago was terrible, if you watched it for more than 30 minutes, the audio and video got completely desynchronized, requiring you to turn off and turn back on the set in order for it to be fixed. 30 minutes later, same thing happened. DO NOT BUY Westinghouse!

  • shopper Anon

    You mention a few blu-ray players which are/aren’t good deals on black Friday. but one you left out was the Insignia blu-ray player at best buy for $99 with 1 movie. How does this rank. It has netflix streaming (and thus an ethernet port).

  • GM From My Cheap Tech

    I been buying electronics for years and Emerson has always been a brand to avoid, based on prior experience, so I totally agree with this article.

    Really great information on this blog, would love link you on my site My Cheap Tech.

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