5 things to know when shopping for a TV

Monday, May 7, 2012
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So your TV finally breaks down after years of faithful service. Replacing it can be overwhelming, especially with all the new technology out there and the fact that you haven't had to shop for a TV lately. Brush up on the basics and know what questions to ask with these tips from local salesmen:

1. Don't play the numbers game. You'll see a lot of numbers when shopping for a TV, from viewing angle to refresh rate to screen size. Manufacturers emphasize numbers because "everyone relates to numbers easily," says Greg Urhahn, sales manager at Stereo One in Cape Girardeau. "You think the higher the number, the better it will be, but that's not always the case." Don't be seduced by numbers; be sure you ask specific questions and find the right TV to fit your lifestyle.

2. Consider how you will use the TV. TVs aren't just for television anymore -- they're used for everything from gaming and streaming online videos to watching sports in 3-D.

"It all comes down to size and what you want to do," says Cameron Propst, an electronics salesman at Sears in Cape Girardeau. If you watch a lot of sports, Propst recommends a plasma screen TV for its wide viewing angles and better ability to capture high-speed images.

"If you're not extremely interested in sports and are looking for something that will last longer, LED is the way to go," he says. LED screens are more expensive than plasma screens, says Propst, but they are brighter and more efficient.

3. Try to view the TV in a homelike setting, or as close to it as you can get. TV images will look completely different in a store with florescent lights than they will in your home, says Urhahn. That's why Stereo One's TV areas are set up like a living room, right down to the recliners and dim lighting.

Keep in mind that most stores don't play actual broadcast TV on the store displays -- they play film reels sent by the manufacturers, and those images appear differently than they would with actual TV, says Urhahn. When shopping, ask the salesman what exactly is being shown on the TV displays, and if it's not actual TV, ask if you can see it that way. You should be able to see, listen and talk about all options before making a purchase, says Urhahn.

4. Beware of online deals. It may be tempting to shop for bargains online, but when it comes to TVs, the quality may be sketchy. If you're shopping for a TV online and find one cheaper than what's listed on the manufacturer's website, there is something wrong with that item, says Urhahn.

5. Ask about service and repair. If it's important to you that TV service and repair are done in-house, you'll want to ask about that up front, says Urhahn.

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