With two weeks left until Christmas, there's still time to buy a spankin'-new HDTV to put under the tree. Here are a few tips to help you find the best deal possible in the remainder of the holiday season.
TVs Are Almost Always Cheaper Online
Shoppers expect better deals online than in stores. With the exception of some in-store doorbuster deals, that notion is almost always correct. Take the Samsung UN55B6000, a 55-Inch, 120 Hz, LED-backlit model, one of our most popular on DigitalAdvisor. That's a nice TV, but check out the range of prices:
If you get it at Best Buy, you'll end up paying significantly more than you would at several online retailers, including most that we host on DigitalAdvisor. With the exception of Abt and a few other merchants, you can always find this TV for less online.
Stores Offer Instant Gratification, But How Do You Get The TV Home?
During certain sales or promotions, TVs are the same price in stores as they are online. And even when they are slightly more expensive at a store, the price difference is worth the sense instant gratification of wheeling a gigantic TV across a parking lot to your car. Yeah, it's a nice feeling. Just make sure the TV actually fits into your trunk.
big-screen models--52 inches and up--probably won't fit into a regular car. Even if you do manage to fit it into your car, moving such a heavy piece of equipment might be incredibly difficult when you get it home. So unless you're a strongman with a Hummer, you'll have to have the TV delivered to your house anyway. That means more waiting and extra shipping costs--just like buying it online. Several online merchants actually offer free shipping; some even offer free scheduled delivery so that you can make sure you'll be home when the TV arrives. It takes a few extra days, but saves the unnecessary stress.
Bigger Specs Doesn't Always Mean A Better Picture
You'll be bombarded with specs when you research a TV. Some are obvious, like screen size, while others are confusing and cryptic. We won't get into the intricacies here, but in general, be wary of big numbers.
For example, spec sheets list a TV's contrast ratio, a measurement of how dark the color black appears on the screen. Unfortunately, each manufacturer measures that ratio on a totally different scale from one another, so it's impossible to use this spec between to compare different brands.
The refresh rate (measured in hertz or Hz) is another buzzword to watch out for. This is a measure of how frequently the TV displays a new picture, which translates to how smooth the picture looks during fast-action sequences. The market is flooded with high-end 240 Hz models this year, all of which are quite expensive. But most credible review sites (including us here at DigitalAdvisor) have a very difficult time discerning a difference between 120 Hz and 240 Hz models. At 120 Hz, the picture refreshes 120 times per second, which we believe is the upper limit of where the average human eye can detect a difference. One study even claims that the average viewer has a tough time discerning between 60 Hz and 120 Hz models. Head to a showroom to see for yourself, but just don't blindly lunge for the most expensive model available.
Never Buy HDMI Cables In-Store And Never Buy Monster Cables Anywhere
HDMI cables are always overpriced in stores. Monster HDMI cables are always overpriced anywhere. Always
. Never buy them. We wouldn't even tell Donald Trump to buy them.
HDMI carries a digital signal. A digital signal either works or it doesn't work. There's no in-between. So all the talk about "speed ratings," "data output" and gold-plating is complete bullshit. ANY
HDMI cable has enough bandwidth to support high-quality HD sources (like a Blu-ray player). A $100 Monster cable works just the same as a $5 cable from Monoprice.com
, so save your money and order cables online.