Well, not really. But he might as well have, so I’m blaming/crediting him.
Anyway, you read on Friday that my old TV decided to give out. However, I quickly realized it had done so at the most advantageous of times:
- In a bad economy, retailers are desperate to get rid of HD sets — both LCD and plasma — at ridiculously cheap discounts
- This goes double for the holiday season in a recession, when retail experts are fearing new lows in holiday spending.
- I’d just received my holiday bonus check (one week’s pay) the day before.
So, I spent Saturday at Circuit City, Costco, and Best Buy — the first because it was in bankruptcy and needed to move inventory to help consolidate two other locations that were sending what was left in, the second because I have a membership, and the third because I generally like it the best and trust it (this may be brand loyalty; I used to work at a store in Colorado and generally found it a decent place to work.)
I’d been advised by friends both real and on the internet to look at three brands in addition to my general belief that Sony makes decent equipment at modest prices. So, I was basically evaluating Sony, LG, Samsung, and Panasonic sets, with a cursory look at Vizio. I’d already decided on 32 inch sets — my analog was 19-inch, and 32 fit the “preferred size/cost + one level higher” metric I always use for electronics and other furnishings. I also decided to go for 720p instead of 1080p; the latter usually was at least a $150 mark-up that I couldn’t afford (additionally, the difference, in my eyes, is negligible on sets smaller than 40″.)
After scanning all three retail outlets within 90 minutes (all three are within a five minute radius), I had decided my preferred brand was a Samsung: the brighter color tones were what I really like about it. I found it for $600 at both Circuit City and Best Buy. Sony’s Bravia sets came in second, LGs were a very close third. Panasonic was too expensive for my budget.
So, I was all ready to walk out the door with my Samsung until I noticed a display at Best Buy that offered this:
32″ Sony Bravia 720p LCD set (cost $750 at both stores normally) + Sony home theater system (with 5 disc DVD/CD changer, AM/FM tuner, and iPod dock and connector, costs $315 on its own) = $700 sale price.
Wait a second. I asked the blue shirt at Best Buy if this was serious — normally they do not bundle things for less than the price of the original item alone. He showed me the offer book, and yes, it was true.
I am more than happy to sacrifice a slight brightness preference for a surround sound system and $100 extra. Please note that my DVD/VCR was also broken, and replacing it was a consideration down the line.
I brought the TV home on Saturday, and I just finished setting up the home theater system. (I have no skills with manual labor whatsoever, but give me any form of home stereo, computer or electronics and I can have it set up in less than 30 minutes.) It is glorious and I don’t even have HD service yet; the cable company is coming on Saturday with a new HD-compatible box. (I also told them to get rid of the pay movie channels — with a functioning DVD player, it’s back to Netflix for me!)
Now, if I can just figure out how to program some of this stuff onto my universal cable remote, I’m in business in this whole new world of LCD and HD programming.