29 - 2011

How to Save on Your Television Upgrade

The following is a guest post from Caroline Ruddy.

A note from Cheap: Don’t forget the power costs of a big TV. Get some guidance on the TV’s electricity costs here. And also don’t forget to factor in the cost of HDTV service if you have a high-res TV.

Still watching your favorite shows on that big console that isn’t just a television, but a piece of furniture? I was, and just recently my TV gave up entirely and died. The last thing I needed was my main source of inexpensive entertainment going black. But if you’re like me and are overdue for an upgrade to a flat-screen television, buying a TV in a pinch could be difficult. It’s certainly harder than it used to be when all you basically had to worry about was size. They all used the same cathode ray tube technology, and the displays were all pretty much the same. Now you have several options to choose from. What’s better? How can you save money on the upgrade? With just a few tips, you’ll be ready for your flat-screen.

How Much to Spend?

This may be the biggest factor in what kind of television you buy, and that’s okay. With all the options and brands available, you’ll be able to find a good quality flat-screen within your price range. Before you even set foot in a store, or go shopping online, decide how much you can or want to spend. If you set a limit, you’ll be less likely to overspend.

Price may determine what kind of TV you get, but there’s another factor in where you get it—retailer discounts. Check around before you start shopping to see if any stores that sell televisions offer promo codes. For example, with a Best Buy Promotional Code, you can save either a percentage or fixed amount on the television you select. Sometimes there are codes for free shipping, which can be very handy if you find a real deal online but don’t want to pay to ship a 30- to 50-pound TV.

Plasma or LCD?

Once you have a budget in mind, you can start narrowing your choices. One of the main things to take into account in high-definition, flat-screen televisions is the difference between plasma and LCD. They both have their pros and cons.

Plasma screens start at 37 inches diagonal, and about $800. They offer impeccable resolution, but because they, like CRTs, use phosphors to produce light, they’re subject to “burn-in,” which can ruin the screen. They also don’t do very well in bright light. LCD televisions start at 15 inches, and can usually double as computer monitors, even in the much larger sizes. Burn-in is not an issue with LCDs, and they’re completely viewable in bright light. Most smaller models start at around $100. If cost is a big issue for you, pass on the plasma, and go for the LCD.

Which Resolution is Best?

Digital content is available in five formats: 480p, 480i, 720p, 1080p, and 1080i. The 480i format is what analog television uses. If you’re going to upgrade your TV, you want something better than what you had before, so you’ll want to go higher than that. Cable and satellite providers use 720p and 1080i formats, as do high-definition broadcast providers. The resolution offered by Blu-ray discs is 1080p, and if you’ve ever seen one play, you know it looks fantastic. A handful of online streaming providers are now offering their content in 1080p, and more services are likely to follow suit in the near future.

Any of these three formats will give you a great picture, although because it’s the best, 1080p will be the most expensive. If your budget will allow it, go for the 1080p. If you’re looking to spend a little less, you can still get great-looking pictures with a 720p or 1080i television. Look for sales and promotional codes to get the most TV for your money.

By putting all these factors together, and finding a retailer that offers a wide selection, you’ll have no trouble upgrading your television without breaking the bank.

Caroline Ruddy is a freelance writer pursuing her dream of being published. When not working on a manuscript, she loves exploring ways to save money on everyday things and sharing her finds with others!

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