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 [amazonify]B001V9LA44::text::::Panasonic DMP-BD60[/amazonify]. 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 [amazonify]B001V9LA44[/amazonify] 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 [amazonify]B0002L5R78::text::::HDMI cables[/amazonify]  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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