Day after day, people ask what the best brand of TV is and what the best cheap TV is. To answer this question, we give the same answer we have been giving since 1991: the brand usually does not matter, it is almost always the quality of the TV. When a customer inquires what the best quality TV is, they are expecting a brand name; instead, we give them a price range.
When we are talking about price range, we also throw in the name Bang & Olufsen, a high end TV and sound system boutique known for its higher standards of both product quality and customer care. “Well, how much are one of those?” we are often asked. “Hard to say” we reply, “because it’s not a place with price tags. It is a place of demos, consultations and quotes.”
When a customer asks how long the typical TV lasts for, we say it depends upon how much you spent on it. Today, a value-priced TV will usually go without a problem for about two years. After that, anything can happen to it and the cost to repair it is sometimes as much as the TV itself.
Just today, we saw a new 32″ Dynex 720P LED HDTV on sale for $160. Do you expect that TV to last longer than 2 years? You shouldn’t and it probably won’t.
How much should a quality TV cost? Well, to be quite frank, a true quality TV should cost just about what you pay for a new car. Why, you ask? The components inside a TV change quality and make as the price goes up. At no point has the value of modern technology made components cheaper. Instead, it’s only made them more expensive. Lower quality (and thus, lower priced) TVs use less expensive parts using components with lower tolerances. These parts are not as expensive because they are not made as well and are assembled in a less careful manner.
How much longer could you expect a higher quality TV to last? That depends upon a number of things; however, it is assumed that so long as you do not purchase a value-priced or economy television, you should expect at least four years of trouble-free operation. When the TV requires repair, you will usually find repair costs to be more realistic to what you paid.
Here are some TV purchasing tips:
- A lamp on a TV will expire quicker with use and is guaranteed not by years but by viewing hours. The less you use it, the longer the lamp will last.
- Even if you are planning on hanging your TV on the wall, keep the stand! Every model of TV has its own special and unique stand which can cost anywhere from $80 to $600 or more to replace. If you ever change your mind about it being hung, you will not have to worry about finding a replacement.
- It is recommended for optimal viewing to have a refresh rate of at least 240Hz, especially if watching sports in HD.
- Keep the receipt and warranty information! Retailers and TV manufacturing companies rely on the fact almost 80% of people lose that information and are never able to utilize their warranty.
- Most consumers want a Smart TV, not because they will actually use its features, but because “it’s cool”. These same features can be attained by using some feature-rich Blu-ray players, DVD players and streaming boxes like Roku.
- Most people do not want or care for curved or 3D-Ready TVs.
- Plasma TVs have a more durable screen, while LED TVs have screens that are very fragile.
- Salt, heat, humidity and inconsistent wattage from a power outlet can all cause early and/or catastrophic failures.
- The average consumer is usually looking for something that that is between 42″-48″.
- The resolution should be at least 1080P.
- The TVs that most retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart and others carry are not quality TVs. The reason why quality TVs are not carried by these retailers is because there is no demand for them anymore.
- The typical warranty on a value or economy TV is one year and usually only include what they consider failures caused by “normal use”.
- There should be at least two HDMI outputs, one component, one composite and an Ethernet port.
- Wireless is a premium feature and is only important if there is wireless in the home that has both a strong signal and is fast. An Ethernet connection will always be better.
So how much should you really be spending? For the average TV size of 48″, we would price an “okay” quality TV at $1400-$1600. In a recent search for what you can buy in-store at major retailers, we found the most expensive at $1100 at Best Buy, but they usually go for around $500-$600.
So, where can you buy a quality TV set? Online retailers such as Amazon and Fry’s Electronics are the perfect places to start. Be sure to purchase a quality HDMI cable and surge suppressor to protect your investment.