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Thinking of Buying a Cheap HDTV? Read This First!

Posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 3:10 PM

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Polaroid LCD HDTVYou can't open a sale flyer from a big box retailer these days without seeing attractive prices on flat-panel HDTV's with name brands of Polaroid, Insignia, Westinghouse, Vizio, and others. With prices hundreds of dollars less than equivalent-sized models from higher-end brands like Toshiba, Sharp, Samsung, and Pioneer, I have to admit to being attracted to them as well. After all, if the image quality is good and they have a decent reputation for not being out-of-box failures, it's all good, right?

As with anything that skimps on price, there has to be a downside, even it's not immediately obvious. Self-proclaimed home theater "guru" Gary Merson, a man who has been featured in Home Theater Magazine and who runs his own blog, aptly named HD Guru, highlights the Top 10 Worst HDTV Scams, Lies, and Video Ripoffs.

He starts with Dynamic Contrast Specifications and ends with HDMI, deeming it an unreliable mess of a connector. (I've not had the problems many others have had, so YMMV). Neatly tucked in between at #3 is "Off Brand Model HDTVs."

He links to an article on his site titled "Your New Disposable Flat Panel HDTV" from last summer. In it, he outlines the service-related issues buyers of budget flat panel HDTVs, even while the warranty is still in place. Pity the poor soul that wants to replace a minor part outside of warranty, as some of the brands offer no out-of-warranty service. None. Nada. Toss it in the trash and buy another one. Ouch.

Given the fact that even the cheapest 32" HDTV is going to set you back $500-$600, and the cool 42" 1080p models are still north of $1,000, you would be well-advised to ask some questions about warranty and out-of-warranty service on anything you are interested in buying! I know that this article has made me think twice about that shiny 37" Vizio I've been eyeing up at Sams!

Buyer beware!

Thanks to EngadgetHD for highlighting this topic!

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