Ready to buy a new HDTV? Don’t! Well, at least not before reading these tips for Black Friday shoppers.
Are the TVs on sale really good deals? What about buying a no-name brand? Can you get the best TV from a doorbuster sale?
By planning your buying strategy you can spare yourself time, money and grief.
Why Leave the House?
Many of the lowest priced Black Friday TVs are no-name brands we don’t recommend. If you’re looking for a name-brand TV on Black Friday sale, we found Amazon Direct to be the same or only slightly higher priced. This is because they closely track major retailers’ pricing.
Keep in mind all brick and mortar stores collect sales tax, while most states don’t with Amazon sales. This may make up for any price difference. We urge readers to check Amazon pricing before heading out to the stores on Thanksgiving or anytime after.
No-Name Brand Service Issues
In our no-name brands article we examined no-name HDTVs. These sets tend to be made in China, and are sold by marketing companies. These companies often have limited or no national service and parts networks.
Often, TV owners need to ship a defective set back to the company’s US offices to receive a repair or exchange. The price difference between a no-name brand and a name brand can be $50 or less, and we recommend buying the name brand product if you can afford it.
What are the Store ‘s Return Polices?
Return policies vary in length of the return window and possibility of restocking charges. Our store return policy article lists the normal return windows for Best Buy, Target, Costco, BJs, Walmart and Sam’s Club. In past years, a number of retailers extended returns to after Christmas. The new policies will probably be announced just before black Friday.
Beware: Sears 30-Day return policy states a whopping 15% restocking charge on all home electronics including televisions if the product was used. A salesman told us Sears defines “used” once the box has been opened.
Many online TV sellers don’t accept HDTV returns, and the ones that do often have restocking charges. Amazon Direct offers 30-day returns with no restocking fee on HDTVs and even pays the return freight. Check out store return polices before buying, not after.
Don’t Buy the Accessories With The TV
All HDTVs require HDMI cables for HD connections to Blu-ray players, most cable/satellite boxes, and media receivers like the Roku (our review here). HDMI cables provide digital audio and video signals over a single cable from source to display. There is no need to buy expensive HDMI cables, as we found in our recent test.
HDTV buyers should also use a surge protector to protect their TV and components against power surges from electrical storms. Even though most TVs today come with a microfiber screen-safe cleaning cloth, retailers push overpriced TV cleaning kits. Check out our review of a few of these.
Best Buy is offering a bundle with all three of these items in its upcoming Black Friday circular for $149.99 (photo above), and makes it appear a good deal by stating a “minimum 5 per store.” Don’t believe it. This package is very profitable for BB and is not a good value. The regular prices for this 8-foot Monster HDMI Cable, surge suppressor and screen cleaning kit are sold separately for $99.99, $49.99 and $19.99 respectively.
You can buy a OSD 9 foot Hi-Speed HDMI Cable for $4.19 instead, a Belkin 8-Outlet Home/Office Surge Protector with Phone/Coaxial Protection and Extended Cordfor $17.30 and a CleanDr LCD/Plasma Screen Cleaner for $6.69
This comparable bundle costs only $28.18, that’s a savings of 81%! These accessories all come from Amazon direct and include free shipping.
The above bundle is “On Sale” for $99.99 from Best Buy. It has a 7 outlet surge. You can substitute a comparable Belkin 8-Outlet Surge Protector from Amazon for $16.77 making the package total $27.65, a 72% savings over Best Buy’s bundle.
The last surge protector bundle is a very basic model. Belkin’s unit fits on the wall outlet Belkin 6-Outlet Wall-Mount Surge Protectorfor $8.44. This package with the same 9 ft HDMI cable and screen cleaner kit from Amazon costs $19.32- a 61% savings!
If your system has a DVR or other hard drive device we recommend a combination surge protector/uninterruptable power supply (UPS). The Tripp Lite OMNI900LCD Digital LCD 900VA Line-Interactive UPS (8 Outlets) regulates voltage during a brown out as well as providing battery backup for short power outages, saving hard drives from crashes. It sells for $99.99 on Amazon with free shipping.
If you plan to buy a no-name TV, we recommend an extended warranty if you plan to keep the TV for at least 3 or 4 years. Often the Square Trade warranty is much cheaper than the one offered by Best Buy and other brick and mortar stores. So compare prices before leaving the house and save money. Here is a link to a Square Trade 4 year warranty SquareTrade 4-Year TV Warranty ($500-600 LCD, Plasma, LED). Our article covering extended warranties will fill you in on how to save by buying a third party contract.
What To Watch in HD?
If you use cable or satellite you will need a high definition box to see a HD picture, so pick one up/order one before the new HDTV arrives. You also might want to consider a Blu-ray player with streaming, or Smart TV box like Roku or Apple TV. Many TVs have streaming services built in, but some external boxes offer more features or better functionality. You’ll need a high-speed Internet for them to work properly. Here is a link to our Roku review and an explanation of streaming services and apps.
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