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Buy a big screen TV--for less

Thrifty AccountantThe Thrifty Accountant Newsletter

--Two minutes of money saving strategies

 

Greetings fellow thrifty accountants!

Until recently, we managed to get by with an old style 36" TV (it was a big screen in its heyday, say 15 years ago). But the husband wanted a "modern TV" and the kids wanted to have a super bowl party, so I had to do some research.

Today's newsletter discusses how to research TVs and where to make your purchase.

Buy a big screen TV--for less

Researching electronics purchases

I narrowed it down to three credible, understandable sources of information:

1) Consumer Reports

We have a subscription to the old fashioned hard copy magazine, but you can also get an online subscription which might be easier to use. You can subscribe to the online version for just one month or a year, and some online content is available without a subscription.

I've found CR provides a reputable unbiased opinion on products, although some reviews are lacking in depth.

2) CNET .com

The reviews on CNET are in-depth and they cover quite a few models. Reviewers go into technical detail, some of which I found a little hard to understand, but the reviews were thorough and mostly readable.

3) Amazon.com

Amazon has great user reviews, some useful, some not. This is where I found some useful information about which model to select.

One of the Amazon user reviewers pointed out that you didn't need to buy the latest (more expensive) model to get Internet connectivity, as you can get the same connectivity through your Blu-ray player. This tip alone saved about $300.

Finding the best deal

Locally

I checked the prices at Fry's and Best Buy locally and the prices were about $400 higher than online, plus sales tax which amounted to about $182. Both places had free delivery on large purchases.

Online

Although I found the TV for about $100 less at another online retailer, I was willing to pay a little more for Amazon's stronger return policy. Many online retailers essentially do not allow returns on electronics, which isn't terribly attractive.

Over a period of about 10 days while I was debating this purchase, I kept tabs on prices at a variety of sites. One day, Amazon ran a special that if you bought both this TV and a Blu-ray player, you got $300 off your total purchase-what a deal! So it pays to keep your eyes open for special discounts.

Installation

I worried a little about setting up the TV/Blu-ray player, as the TV is heavy and I thought it might be complex to connect everything. You can pay an extra $100-$200 to have professional installation, but I elected not to.

As it turns out, the two delivery guys (Amazon's shipper) offered to set up and connect the TV to the Blu-ray/cable/DVD recorder (and they did a great job), so we gave them an extra tip for that.

My experience

The television we got is a Panasonic plasma Viera S1 series and the Blu-ray player is the Panasonic DMP-BD80. We saved money by:


Who wouldn't want to save $1,280? And maybe this TV will last 15 years like the last one.

February 2010 | Issue #019