Some people think that the only cost associated with a new HDTV is the price of the TV itself. Maybe that's true if you're replacing an older HDTV, but for newbies to the HDTV community that assumption couldn't be further from the truth.
This article should strengthen your foundation when it comes to buying a TV. It's based on my personal experiences mixed with other knowledge that I've acquired through the years by helping other people plan for their TV purchase.
No matter what anyone tells you, you don’t need to buy a new TV in order to watch digital television programming. Your old-fashioned analog TV will work with cable, satellite, and an antenna. The caveat is that if you choose to use an analog TV with an antenna then you’ll most likely need to buy a DTV converter box...unless you live in an area serviced by a smaller station that was exempt from the digital transition. Cable subscribers can still use their analog TV with analog or digital cable. Satellite subscribers can use their analog TV with a satellite receiver. So, don’t be fooled by the salesperson suggesting that you need a new TV just because the digital transition happened. That just isn’t true.
Credit markets are tight, which means cash and existing credit accounts might be your only option of payment. If you are able to get an approved loan then pay attention to the interest rate and read fine print. Most retail credit accounts won’t have a yearly fee, but their interest rates can be high. Retail stores also tend to offer a zero interest, which is a good deal if you pay off your balance before the promotional period expires. If you don't then you could get zapped with the accrued interest that compounded over the duration of the loan. Don’t believe me? I bought a TV with a zero interest promotional offer and had to pay about $250 in accrued interest because I owed money when my promotional period expired.
I buy extended warranties for some items, but not all. I have three HDTVs in my home and only one of them was covered under a warranty. The reason I paid for the warranty is because the cost of the warranty was low enough to justify the extra expense. Pay attention to the cost of the warranty in comparison to the TV also. You might be able to save on the warranty if you reduce your TV purchase price since most warranties are priced based on the TV's price. Just remember that they run concurrent with the manufacturer’s warranty.
How Will You Get Your HDTV Home?I’m amazed at how quickly logic leaves the conversation when trying to figure out how to cram a 50" LCD TV into the trunk or backseat of a Toyota Camry? Instead, ask a buddy that owns a truck to help with the transport. Or, ask the sales person if the store has a TV delivery service. Chances are that they do. The delivery service might even be free if you spend enough money on your TV purchase. Ask if the delivery service will also haul away and recycle your old TV. Delivery services typically include basic installation. Keep in mind that delivery service is also insured. Don't forget about those flights of stairs when considering delivery service.
One of the biggest decisions you can make before and after buying a new TV is determining where it will go. Most people have a place in mind before buying. That definitely helps you choose your screen size. Personally, I love hanging a flat panel TV on a wall, but wall-mounting can be expensive when you factor in the cost of mounting brackets and any installation fees. Brackets alone can cost anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars. This is more than most people will want to spend. Alternatives to mounting are using the TV's built-in stand or buying an entertainment center/TV stand that has a built-in bracket that simulates wall-mounting.
The cost difference between analog and digital cable will vary from provider to provider, even city to city. In my hometown, the difference between analog and digital cable is about $8 a month when subscribing to Time Warner Cable (TWC). This isn't a bad deal. In addition, TWC gives you HD for free as part of their digital cable package. Definitely worth the upgrade with TWC. However, not all cable and satellite providers will give you HD for free. The difference between analog and digital could be enough to break your budget. In this economy every penny counts, so be sure to read about how you can save money on your TV service before you upgrade so you can start saving immediately.
Who Will Install and Connect Everything to Your HDTV?
Installing a 26” TV is a piece of cake, but it’s not so easy when the TV is 50” and weighs 80+ lbs. Especially if you plan on mounting the panel to a wall. My advice is to let a bonded professional install your HDTV if you plan on mounting it. It’s expensive but if you can afford a mounting bracket then you can probably afford the installation. Connecting components to a HDTV can be downright nightmarish for some people, especially when they're used to an analog TV that only had the coaxial input. Don't worry. Your new HDTV should have all of the wiring help you need within the user manual. If you can't find what you need there then be sure to check out my A/V connection diagrams
Most TVs won't come with a free HDMI cable, which is what you'll want to use with your new HDTV. This is unfortunate because HDMI cables can be expensive, especially brand names like Monster. Rest comfortably budget hounds knowing that while TV enthusiasts will pay for the high dollar cables, you can get good cable for less money. The truth is that most people can't tell a difference between a $5 and $60 HDMI cable. So, if buying a name brand isn’t important to you then save money by buying a less expensive HDMI cable. You might even try your local cable company. Time Warner in my hometown sells HDMI cables to their subscribers for around $10. If you don’t subscribe to cable then ask a friend if they will buy one for you.