It’s that time again. Here’s a list of things you should know before attempting to grab a Black Friday (BF) doorbuster in a brick and mortar store followed by advice for shopping on-line.

Read the ads thoroughly

Before running out of the house in the late hours tonight or the wee hours of tomorrow morning, you’ll want pay particular attention to the following: Check the quantities offered and other restrictions. A good example is Best Buy. They state in the proverbial fine print ” Minimum of X” per store. This could be as low as four of a kind making the odds of you getting one, (without waiting in front of the store for hours or days before opening) slim to none. At the bottom of the front page of the Best Buy’s BF ad states “Prior to opening, a line of customers will form outside the store. Up to two hours before the 5 a.m. store opening, employees will hand out tickets to customers starting at the front of the line for select front cover and other limited quantity items. The tickets, limited to one ticket per customer per each item, grant the customer the ability to buy the item for a limited time. We are unable to guarantee all customers in line will receive a ticket.”

Limited quantities on TVs and other items are common with many electronics selling retailers on BF.  Check competitive on line prices from etailers before heading out for an item that may be out of stock by the time you arrive at the store.

Check the return and defective product policies

The last thing you want to occur on Christmas morning upon unpacking new HDTV is to discover the screen is cracked. Will the store accept it as a return or claim you broke it after purchase? Read the store’s return policies regarding product condition, any possible restocking charges and latest date post BF returns are accepted. If the store excludes cracked HDTV screens from refunds, insist on an in-store inspection and repacking. Just an inspection may not always reveal a fine screen fracture. The only way to be certain is if the set is plugged into a power outlet and powered on. If the screen is cracked it either won’t light up or will with the crack instantly visible. You don’t have to connect to it to a source; if functional the TV will always first display a menu screen.


The number one accessory “add-on” for HDTVs is an HDMI Cable. Its a single wire that connects with all HD sources, carries the audio and video  and provides the best picture quality. Cables are a profit center for the retail electronics store. The salesman may try to sell you an HDMI cable (for $30- $130 or more)  that provides the same image quality as the hi-speed HDMI cable as you can order here for under $7 with free shipping. Please check out our HDMI labeling article here for more information.

The next biggest “add-on” is a power conditioner. Salesman will claim it will give you a sharper picture. This is a bunch of hooey. Instead get a surge protector, preferably one with an indicator that confirms functionality.  For your hard drive sources such as a DVR we recommend uninterrupted power supply (UPS ).  It does not need to be big or expensive, just with enough storage  to get you through a momentary black out or give you time to properly power down your home theater system. All UPS units offer surge protection.

On-Line Retailers

Check out the return policies of the etailer before you place the order. Do you need to inspect  the TV for damage before signing to protect yourself  for it or can you make a claim after delivery (and for how long)?  Some etailers require notice within days. If you can return a TV, under what conditions and is there a restocking fee? Some on line stores charge 15% on any return, plus the cost of the return freight. Check before you order.

On-line sellers often offer at extra cost inside the home (unpacked), TV delivery (often referred to as “white glove delivery”). Do you need this service? Do you know how to set up and connect a new TV to your cable or satellite box? If you don’t, maybe you know someone that can help you. Be prepared.

Even if you don’t plan on buying from Amazon or another online retailer, use these deals as a price guide for other online shopping, or for negotiating a price with your local brick and mortar retailer. To help you get the best deal read our “Getting the Best HDTV Price” article. To help guide you to the right size screen, click on are “HDTV Viewing Distance Chart” which show the maximum “viewer to screen” distance for seeing full HD resolution for every size screen.

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