Q. Our family is going to get a new TV since we’re still stuck at home because of the Coronavirus. Any ideas on how we can get a good deal? — Millie, St. Paul, Minnesota.
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. (You also might want to read this article on how to safely purchase a TV during the Coronavirus outbreak.)
Here are three 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
Many TV makers are now reducing prices on their 2019 model sets to make room for the 2020 editions. While some people may tell you that the more expensive 2020 models have new, must-have features, usually the 2019 sets are just as good in performance and overall reliability. Take advantage of the lower prices and buy an older set.
Millie, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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