The HD Guru® brings good news to all potential HDTV buyers!  HDTV prices should drop after today (Black Friday) through Christmas! Why? The weakening economy brought about the biggest drop ever recorded in overall October retail sales.

The HD Guru spoke to both retailers and HDTV makers who confirm that November’s pre-Black Friday sales were way down compared to 2007, resulting in extremely high inventory levels in stores and at manufacturer’s warehouses.  Stores made pricing decisions on Black Friday items no later than mid-October 2008, too early to anticipate November’s worsening retail traffic and lower sales. What is the solution?  In my analysis, stores and vendors will use Black Friday pricing as a baseline and depending on the sales level generated today (early reports are not promising); they’ll re-price HDTVs at or below today’s BF levels.  It’s a win-win for shoppers.

To help you decide which HDTV may be best for you and how to get the best deal, the HD Guru recommends reading these previously published HD Guru posts: tells you how to choose the HDTV that is right for you and provides tips on how to negotiate the lowest price. However, there is an important update: readers report that their local Best Buy stores now allow negotiating below the tag price on HDTVs (and computers too). Your homework done and your HDTV decision made, ask the sales person for a manager and make an offer for less. Hey, try it, it can’t hurt!

Reader HDTV Purchasing Questions Emailed to [email protected]

Should I buy an Extended Warranty?

Generally speaking, HDTV extended warranties are a bad deal. However, they may provide a certain amount of peace of mind to buyers. First, find out the cost.  Some stores such as Wal-Mart charge about 10% of the set’s price, while others charge 20% or more. Remember, HDTV prices continue to drop 25% to 30% annually, so factor in what the replacement cost would be in 2 and 3 years before making a final extended warranty decision. Also, consider that if you pay with an Amex Gold card or higher, or with many gold or higher MasterCard or Visa cards, your bank may automatically double your manufacturer’s warranty. Check with your card issuer for terms and conditions. In addition, Costco automatically doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for all HDTVs they sell.

Learn who is actually providing the extended warranty. Is it the store or an outside company? This is very important. If it’s the store’s own warranty and they go out of business, your extended warranty will become worthless. Many companies use an outside firm for their coverage. A Circuit City customer service representative said its extended warranty is covered by Assurant Solutions and will be in effect if the chain goes under.

Most importantly: READ THE TERMS OF THE WARRANTY BEFORE PURCHASING and ask get answers to the following questions:

1)    Does the warranty cover all of the set’s parts and labor including lamps or bulbs (used within LCD flat panels and rear projectors)?
2)    Does it cover power surge related damage?
3)    What are the exceptions to coverage?
4)    What happens if parts are not available for repairs?
5)    Do you need to ship back the TV in its original carton for repairs?
6)    Who pays the freight each way?
7)    Is there a time limit for repairs to occur?
8)    If the TV can’t be repaired or parts are not available, will you get a refund or a new TV replacement, or just a refund of warranty’s cost?

If the store will not provide a copy of the extended warranty terms and conditions before purchase, do not buy it!

Should I buy from Circuit City (CC), now in Chapter 11?

If you find the HDTV you want, at the price you want to pay, I do not see why not. Just make sure it is a CC store that is not closing and is not having a liquidation sale. All merchandise at those stores is sold as-is and all sales are final. The liquidation is being handled by an outside company that purchased the store inventory from CC. Beware the liquidation closing CC stores are generally charging more for HDTVs than the CC stores that are remaining in business, as first reported by HD Guru and now by “Good Morning America” and other TV programs.

Should I buy a Power Conditioner For My HDTV?

Unless you reside in a home that is adjacent to a power substation and/or other major interference causing entities you should not. All HDTVs “condition” the power within their chassis’. Save the money for better things such as a Blu-ray player.

Should I buy a Surge Protector?

Yes. I 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.

Do I need a higher speed HDMI cable for 120Hz HDTVs?

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 signal sources for 120 Hz TVs. The change is made within the TV and the bandwidth requirements for the cable are the same as any other HDTV.

You can find HDMI cables 6 feet to 2 meters long for around five dollars (including shipping) that will provide your HDTV with the full HDTV signal at the HDGuru/Pricegrabber website located under the “Check Prices” banner in the lower left side of this webpage. There are differences in construction quality, 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!

Copyright ©2008 Gary Merson/HD Guru™. All rights reserved. The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.