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How To Save Money Buying An LCD TV

By Erik Folgate

During the summer, you will find great deals on LCD and Plasma TV’s, because manufacturers and retailers are looking to get rid of their older models to bring in new ones. As with any electronic device, manufacturers roll out a better model with more features every year to make consumers never be content with what they have. Apple does an amazing job with this tactic, and it’s one of the only things that annoys me about their company. The fact that the iPhone doesn’t have an FM radio, MMS text messages, and just recently got video playback is ridiculous. They have been adding one or two features to their iPods for the past five years, when they had the capability of adding all of the features from the beginning.

If you’re still in the “dark ages” and you haven’t bought an LCD or Plasma flat panel TV yet, you’ll pay significantly less than your peers as long as you don’t get sucked into buying the greatest TV since the ones last year. Analog television is done and retailers have a lot of incentive to draw you in their stores with deals on TV’s. Now is a good time to start looking for a deal on a flat panel if you have the money to buy one. I’m not going to get into all of the details about LCD, Plasma, refresh rates, contrast ratios, and all of that garbage, because there are millions of other sites that explain that stuff better than I ever will. If you are still wondering about the differences between plasma and LCD, here is my quick analysis.

LCD: It’s durable, it has vibrant colors, smooth pixalation, and it’s just better than plasma. There’s no glare on the screen, because it doesn’t have that plexi-glass covering that plasma displays have. It’s more expensive than plasma displays, but that’s because most people expect the existing plasma technology to go away soon.

Plasma: They are cheaper than LCD displays, they have a more clear and crisp picture than LCD. You can find bigger sizes with plasma. It’s less popular, because there are a lot of rumors that they will be changing the existing technology, and probably already have done so.

This post is not intended to educate you about what to buy, but instead, I want to help you save money once you’ve done all of your research. Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Do your research! Knowledge is power. Use Google to your advantage, and read up on all of the different brands, specifications, and sizes. Evaluate your situation. Do you live in an apartment? Then, you should go for something in the 32″ to 42″ range. If you have a huge room, and you like to hold football watching parties, then 46″ to 50″ will suit your needs more. Also, figure out what is more important to you. Do you want a bigger television or one with a better picture? If you are upgrading from a standard CRT TV, then better picture shouldn’t be on your mind, because it will be much better than you are accustomed to.
  2. Forgot about specifications that you don’t care about. The refresh rate, contrast ratio, and internet connection should not be important to you. TV’s have become like computers. The average user will never notice the difference between 1 GB of RAM or 2 GB of RAM. The average television watcher will never tell the difference between 5,000:1 and 10,000:1 contrast ratio. It’s silly to have someone at Best Buy try to upsell you a bunch of features that you’ll never care about. The only features you should really care about are resolution, the amount of HDMI jacks, and the size. You can find great deals on 720p resolution LCD TV’s right now, and they are great for your bedroom or as an extra TV. But for your main TV, you should go with 1080p, because it looks great for sports and movies. Also, don’t buy a TV with less than three HDMI jacks. All accessories that you buy now and in the future will use HDMI to hook into new TV’s, because you get audio, video and a great picture out of one cord.
  3. Learn to negotiate. Retail stores will negotiate, but not if you don’t initiate it. There are two key ingredients to effective negotiation. You must have other options and knowledge. Knowledge is power, so don’t try to negotiate if you don’t know what you are talking about. Also, you need options. You need to show them that there are similar TV’s at a cheaper price from a competitor. Show a place like Best Buy, HH Gregg, or Wal-Mart that an online retailer has a cheaper price, and they will most likely match the price and give you 5% to 10% off that price.
  4. Never buy HDMI and digital audio cables from a retail store. Monster cables are unbelievably overpriced, and there has been extensive research done by tech blogs that reveal that brand name HDMI cables are no better than generic HDMI cables. You can find HDMI cables from online retailers like Tiger Direct, Buy.com, and New Egg, for 60 to 75% cheaper than at a retail location.
  5. Don’t buy into the paper-thin LCD TV’s. You can get LCD TV’s that are only 1 inch thick, and soon they will have ones that are only a 1/4 of an inch thick. This is crazy, and to pay $2,500 to $3,500 for this luxury just isn’t necessary unless you have a lot of money to blow. Don’t let the salesmen get you on this one.

If you have recently bought a new TV, we want to hear about your experience. What did you do to save money? Where did you buy from?

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • Eugene Krabs

    Plasma is CHEAPER than LCD?

    That’s the first I’ve heard of such a thing.

    It depends on the size though. Plasma is not available below a certain size (I think it’s 40″ but please don’t quote me on that) because, below that, it is very difficult to compete with the price of LCD.

    I have a Samsung 24″ 1080P HDTV that cost me $450 (but you might be able to find it cheaper nowadays). For only one person, the quality is superb relative to the price. Not only that, but it also doubles as a computer monitor, along with Blu-ray and an Xbox 360 once upon a time (I sold it).

    For one monitor to do all that, I was quite pleased.

    • KIKO

      I am with Eugene, PLASMA TVs are more expensive than LCD because Plasmas are 40incher and higher. Also Plasma has better picture quality than LCDs. I have a 46 incher Panasonic and it’s awesome. The only problem is it consumes electricity almost 4x my 37″ LCD HDTV.

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