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HTSA Warns Holiday Shoppers About Buying Low-End HDTVs

The buying group says holiday shoppers may regret buying a lower-end HDTV.


CHESTER SPRINGS, Pa. — When high demand for HDTVs meets tightened consumer spending, the result is huge sales figures for cheap brands of flat panel televisions. But holiday shoppers should be cautious when considering purchasing a low-end HDTV to save a few hundred dollars this season says, David Berman, director of training and public relations for the Home Theater Specialists of America.

According to Berman, the primary methods low-end manufacturers use to cut manufacturing costs are to remove key technologies and features that reduce performance, reliability, and service. They install lower quality processing engines, pair them with displays that can't handle a full HD signal, and offer a warranty that makes it nearly impossible to repair the TV or have it replaced, even at a reasonable cost.

Processing Engine

Like the engine of a car, the power behind the processing engine determines the level of the TVs performance, measured by the quality of the picture. Processing engines take every incoming signal that is not the same type as the native display of the TV, and converts it to the TV's display type. For example, a standard DVD player outputs at 480i or 480p. The processing engine upconverts that signal for compatibility with a TV that shows 1080p. This upconversion process requires a superior processing engine which does cost more money. Put a cheaper one into a TV and manufacturing costs drop considerably. Berman advises that when looking at price tags, remember that you'll get what you pay for.

Display

HDTV in its best accepted standard has a pixel count of 1920 X 1080, producing a 1080p picture with 2,073,000 pixels, approximately. That's techno-speak for a drop-dead gorgeous, lifelike picture. Many of the TVs being dumped this holiday season are limited to 1366 X 768, producing a picture with approximately 1,000,000 pixels. That's less than half the pixel clarity of a true HDTV and only about 10% of all HD programming comes across in this format.

Warranty

Warranties on many cheaper HDTV models make repairs nearly impossible. Limited warranty periods may mean your TV can't be repaired after the warranty period without substantial cost. Some manufacturers require you to pay to ship the TV back to the warehouse, in the original box, which could cost as much as $400. If you don't have the original packaging, you'll have to buy it from them. In the end, it might be more economical to buy a new TV altogether.

"To get the experience most people are looking for when they decide to buy an HDTV, they should expect to spend a little more," says Berman. "You simply cannot get high quality and high definition for half the price that trusted manufacturers charge. Each element of an HDTV is vital to the quality of the picture, and to skimp on any one piece of the equation will compromise it."

To help consumers, HTSA has published a list of their favorite flat panel models for this holiday season:
  • Limited Edition Sharp Aquos LCD
  • Pioneer Kuro
  • Sony Bravia XBR7 and XBR8
  • LG
  • Mitsubishi




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Article Topics

Press Releases · Displays · Buying Group · Buying Group · All topics

4 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by user  on  12/12  at  04:39 PM

you got to be kidding me, the unknown brands can incorporate the new technologies faster than the big brands because big brands have to keep the same model circulation for years, while the small brands can and do bring new models every month. even if I had the money I wouldn’t buy it because the big brands have been monopolyzing the market with price fixing ever since I can remember, I am resentful for that, because I understand how they work.

Posted by Chuck  on  12/13  at  06:17 AM

Ahh, I love how the anonimity of the internet brings out so much instant hate/flaming.  The only problem with this is that most arguements on the internet have little or no thought/reasoning behind them an amount to name calling.  Everyone wants to be heard but most posts on the internet inn my opinion are the same as the ranting of a drunk in real life.
  Anyway, in more intellectual thought;  I agree with the author’s point of view that many low-end TVs are not up to par with big name TVs, however the low-end TVs are matched to a different type of consumer.  Processing/scaling is terrible in htese products.  As such items like DVDs will look like crap on the TVs when upscaled , however since most content in the US on HD channels is 720p or 1366 x 786 <—720p native PC Resolution, poor upscaling becomes a non-issue.  I think the better point the author would have is that low-end PCs are good for content today but not ready for the content of tomorrow and thus is poor buy in the long run.
  I personally don’t buy cheap electronics as they have a tendency to be outdated very quickly and to also break often.  Also, low-end consumer electronics have little or no warrranty as the author states which often make it more simple to buy a new item than fix what you have.  This is not only extremely wasteful finacially, but is also not so good for the environment.  This is the point the authro was trying to make.
  As an example nearly 10 years ago I purchased a $1k Yamaha RX-V995 5.1 reciever and to this day I’m still extremely happy with it.  To give you a rough idea of age of the unit, Component video was very much non-existant or in it’s infancy at the time of purchase.  The unit still works 100%, but I’m finally considering a new reciever for 7.1 surround and HDMI processing/upscaling.  Upon buying a new unit I will move this amp into my bedroom since it still works flawlessly.  Meanwhile last year for Christmas i recieved a cheap HTiB DVD player and speaker system.  I hate this unit.  I has problems playing burnt DVDs and sometimes even store purchased DVDs.  It has a single secondary input which is Composite video with stereo RCAs.  This input works only 5% of the time with sound (I’ve never gotten video to play back properly).  The only method of getting it to work is to walk to unit and physically turn the unit on and off until the cheap sound processor decides to work.  BTW it sound like ####.
  In closing, I suggest commetns in the future focus more on detail and less on name calling as the internet already has enough trash and junk that finding good information is difficult.  Put more thought in your comments and at least cite an example.

Posted by motion  on  12/13  at  06:38 AM

I have a Yamaha RXV995. it was dropshipped to my store on Christmas Eve 1999 as a free contest prize from Yamaha. I whored myself out that selling season and only sold Yamaha stuff instead of the Denon I normally would. the VCR input has since dropped dead (who cares) and the volume control frequently won’t answer remote commands (very annoying). other than that it still works fine.

Posted by hdtv  on  12/18  at  05:22 PM

I’m not sure why this is even an argument. The major brands have been heavily discounting their HDTVs this holiday season in an attempt to salvage sales (not profits) and there have been some exceptional deals out there, such as Panasonic’s TH42PZ80U 1080p plasma, brand-new, free shipping, from NewEgg.com.

And some of the Vizio products work very well, have extended warranties available for reasonable prices, and are also heavily discounted.

I see this press release as trying to salvage sales of HDTVs and related products by specialty AV / HT retailers, which are in for tough sledding in Q4 2008. Realistically, HDTVs in 50-inch and smaller sizes are becoming commoditized.

Even some of their “preferred” brands are having fire sales on HDTVs. Dell is now selling Sharp LCD sets!

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