Q. I’m considering getting a new 4K TV. Any tips on how to get one and save some money. I am on a budget — Millie, Richmond, Virginia.
Millie, buying a new TV is a big decision and not one to be taken lightly. Depending upon which set you buy — and where you buy it — you might wind up spending hundreds of dollars more than you need to.
So, here are four ideas on how to save money while buying a new television.
1. Don’t Buy an Extended Warranty
For years, electronics stores have boosted their profits by selling extended warranties to TV shoppers, sometimes using fear tactics to make people think their sets will fall apart the day after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
But nearly every TV set comes with a one-year warranty on parts and a multiple-month warranty on labor. If the set is a lemon — ready to collapse into a thousand pieces with a single touch — you’ll find out shortly after you bring it home. And if that happens, your manufacturer’s warranty will cover any repairs.
Plus, some credit cards will extend a product’s warranty for an extra year for free. Check with your credit card company before buying a store’s extended warranty.
And, finally, TVs, even today’s sleeker flat-screen sets, are built to last. The number of sets that need repairs in the first few years are estimated to be around five percent. That’s not a high number. And, as we just noted, if your set does need a repair in the first year or two, it’s likely it will be covered by your manufacturer’s warranty plus your credit card’s warranty extension.
2. Don’t Buy Those Expensive Cables
The HDMI cable, which provides a one-prong connection from a set-top box to your TV, and delivers both video and audio, does not have to cost a fortune. (By the way, you plug one end of the HDMI cable into the ‘HDMI In’ port of your TV and the other in your set-top’s ‘HDMI Out’ port.)
So how much should you spend on an HDMI cable?
In the early days of High-Definition TV, store salesmen would swear on a Bible that you needed an HDMI cable that would cost anywhere from $50 to $100. They said that anything cheaper than that would result in a inferior picture. Now they are using the same argument for new 4K TVs, suggesting the expensive cables are needed to ensure a perfect 4K picture.
Well, that was nonsense then, and it’s nonsense now. There’s nothing wrong with those expensive HDMI cables — you can even make an argument that some are more sturdy. But they won’t give you a better picture than a solid, name-brand, sub-$15 HDMI cable whether you are watching high-def or 4K.
3. Look For an Older Model
While some salesmen may tell you that the more expensive 2019 models have new, must-have features, usually the 2018 sets are just as good in performance and overall reliability. Take advantage of the lower prices and buy an older set.
4. Buy Online
There’s no doubt that you can get better deals online, although I must add that some retail stores are now promising to match an online price if you bring it to their attention. However, because a web site, such as Amazon, doesn’t have the overhead of a retail store, particularly a large retail chain, it can sell many TVs at a significant discount. Sometimes the set will be $300 cheaper or more.
If you are leery of ordering a TV through the mail, some sites offer special guarantees to ensure your set arrives in perfect working order. For example, most sets 50 inches or larger at Amazon come with this “Enhanced Delivery’ guarantee:
“For this TV, we offer enhanced delivery through one of our specialty shippers. A representative of a common carrier will deliver your TV to any room suitable for testing, unpack it, ensure that it is working properly to guarantee no damage occurred during transportation, and dispose of all packaging material.”
And if you have a problem with the set after delivery, Amazon offers 60-day free tech support on most sets.
“If you’ve purchased a television, home audio, tablet PC, coffee maker, projector or wearable technology product from Amazon and received it in the last 60 days, you may quality for free over the phone Tech support,” Amazon says, which also offers a liberal return policy.
Another advantage: Amazon offers free two-day shipping on many televisions while Walmart allows you to order one online and pick up the set at a neighborhood retail store.
So, bottom line: Ordering a TV online is safe and can be less expensive than buying it at your local store.
Millie, hope that helps. Happy Viewing!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann