As of Monday, calculating how much I had spent on televisions, DVD players, and other entertainment equipment was fairly easy. I “inherited” a JVC receiver and large JBL speakers from my father when he upgraded. When a friend and roommate of mine moved to Seattle several years ago, I purchased his 27 inch CRT television, DVD player, and entertainment center for $150 or so. Last year, I bought a cheap DVD player for $35 when the first one died. Also last year, or maybe two years ago, I purchased a pair of small Yamaha speakers to replace the large JBL speakers when they no longer functioned properly.
I have wanted to upgrade my entire system for a long time. Knowing that it would be an expensive endeavor, I put this off for many years. While I know that spending a large sum of money now could mean less for me in retirement thanks to the powerful effect of inflation, now that I am able to aggressively save for retirement (25% of my day job salary and I could easily go higher at any time), I decided this past weekend it was time to start the upgrade.
The last few days have been spent reading a large number of reviews of various television sets on Consumer Reports (where I am now a member), forums, and a wide selection of other websites. I solicited advice from friends who are familiar with the technology.
First, I settled on LCD as the appropriate technology for my typical viewing conditions and for its recent advancements in competition with the picture quality of plasma. I went back and forth between several brands, but I eventually decided on Sharp Aquos.
The price on the Sharp Aquos LC-42D62U 42 inch LCD HDTV — the size I determined would be appropriate, large but not overbearing, for my space — was in the range of what I wanted to spend for the best high definition resolution (1080p), and the lowest price I could find was under $1,300 at Circuit City. That didn’t surprise me, having helped my girlfriend purchase a television several months ago.
Unlike that last time, I could not get the sales associates to drop the price. I can understand why; the television is selling well, is not discontinued, and the price dropped as recently as a month ago by $800. Still, Circuit City offers a 30-day price guarantee in case they lower the price or I find an offer in the local competitive area for less. When I shopped for a television with my girlfriend, we spotted a discontinued model and were able to work the sales associate down about 33%. He even showed us a list of all the store’s television equipment, including what would be considered the “invoice price,” or what the store supposedly paid.
Back to my HDTV, a friend assisted me with transporting the television from the store to my living room (and setting up the television) as the box would most likely not fit into my Honda Civic. Another aspect of LCD technology that fits my needs is its weight. Plasma screens are much heavier and difficult to transport. I expect I will be moving again in the next year or two and Plasma screen are fragile.
I was surprised Circuit City offered high definition cables (HDMI) for no less than $100 and up to $140 a piece. I left the store without buying any of the cables that would allow me to completely enjoy the high definition experience. Instead, I opted to order 2 HDMI cables — one for cable television and the other for the HD DVD player I will write about in Part 2 — online through my friend’s wholesale source for $14 a piece.
The television looks great so far. I expect once I receive and install the HDMI cables, quality on standard definition broadcasts will actually decrease, as one negative point of this particular model is that it doesn’t have a strong conversion processor. Nevertheless, high definition broadcasts are consistently increasing — almost everything I watch is broadcasted in HDTV, and my cable service including HD is free for the year.
Updated May 26, 2009 and originally published August 29, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.