We all know how to buy a television. Just open the newspaper, find the best price and go get one. In my days as a salesperson, I have seen this a lot; a customer comes in to the store, AD in hand, and says "wrap it up". However, the best price may not be the "best deal". Here are some buying tips that are often times overlooked, but very important in the purchase of a Television, whether it be a small LCD TV for the bedroom, large screen Plasma or projection TV, or the latest Internet-enabled or 3D TV.
Note: Although CRT-based (Tube) televisions have been phased out, information on what to consider when buying a CRT-based television is still provided as part of this article for those that may be buying such a set on clearance, new or used through private parties, or online sources.
Tip #1 -- Measure the space the TV is to be placed in.
It amazes me how many times a customer will purchase a television, get it home just to return it because it just doesn't quite fit in the entertainment center, on the TV stand, or on the wall space. Make sure you measure the required space for your TV and bring those measurements and tape measure to the store with you. When measuring, leave at least a 1 to 2-inch leeway on all sides and several inches behind the set, in order to make it easier to install your TV and to allow for adequate ventilation. Also, make sure you have extra space for the installation of any cable and/or rear panel audio/video connections, once the television is in place, or have enough room to move the television so that cable connections can be easily installed or un-installed.
Tip #2 -- Size of Room/Type of Viewing Area
Make sure you have adequate viewing space between you and the TV. With big tube, Projection TV's, LCD/Plasma screens, and even video projectors, the temptation to get the biggest screen possible is hard to pass up. However, you must have the proper distance between you and the picture to get the most pleasing viewing experience.
If you are planning to buy a 29-inch LCD TV, you should give yourself about 3 to 4 feet to work with, for a 39-inch LCD TV give yourself about 4-5 feet, and for a 46-inch LCD or Plasma TV you should have about 6-7 feet to work with. Needless to say, you should have about 8ft to work with when installing a 50-inch or 60-inch LCD, Plasma, or DLP set.
This doesn't mean you have to view from these distances, but gives you enough room to adjust your seating distance for best results. Also, optimal distances will vary according the aspect ratio of the screen, and also if you are viewing high definition content (that has more detail) or standard definition content. If you have a standard definition or analog TV, you should sit a little farther away from the screen than you would if viewing an HDTV. For more information on the optimal viewing distance for a particular size TV screen, check out our video tip: Proper Distance for Viewing Different TV Sizes.
In addition, if you are building a television viewing area or home theater room from scratch, even if you plan to do your own construction, still consult a home theater installer or a contractor that specializes in home theater to get an honest assessment of the actual environment that the television or video projector will be used in. Factors such as the amount of light coming in from windows, room size, acoustics, etc... will certainly be a major factor in what type of television or video projector (as well as audio setup) would be best in your specific situation.
Tip #3 -- Vehicle Size
Boy! Here is one tip that is definitely overlooked! Make sure your vehicle is large enough transport the TV, if you plan to take it with you. With cars being smaller these days, most cars cannot fit any TV larger than 20-inch to 27-inch in the front seat or the trunk (open, with tie-down). Also, even though some compact cars can fit a 32-inch LCD set on the back seat, be careful when loading and make sure the set is secure and doesn't bounce around creating a potential safety hazard, not to mention possibly causing damage to the TV. If you have an SUV, you should be able to accommodate a 32, 37, or maybe even a 40-inch LCD TV without too much trouble.
However, even if you have room to take the TV with you, check with the salesperson to find out about delivery. Many stores offer free delivery on larger screen TV's. Take advantage of this, don't risk getting a hernia trying to lift a big screen up those stairs...and definitely let the store deliver a large screen Plasma or LCD television. If you take the set home yourself, you are out of luck if you damage the set. However, if you let the store deliver it, they take all the damage risk.
Continue on to Page 2 - Picture Quality, Audio Quality, Connectivity