Before You Buy That New TV

April 2008

With tax rebate checks arriving any day now, there will be a lot of folks who are tempted to get a new television, probably thinking they are going to need one by next February. 9News last night had a very informative segment on who needs a new TV. It also sent shoppers undercover to see what advice electronic store salespersons were giving out. A lot of it was wrong, possibly out of ignorance, more likely out of a desire to make a sale. Here's the facts:

  • Unless you have a TV that uses rabbit ears or set-top antenna, you don't need to do anything. If you already get cable or satellite, you're all set, regardless of the age of your TV.
  • If you do have a TV with rabbit ears or set-top antenna, you only need a coverter box. They cost $80 or less, and the Government is plastering $40 rebate coupons everywhere. They are red and look like a mini-credit card.
  • The switch date is February 17, 2009.

My personal recommendation: Do some research before buying a new flat screen and check the prices for the model you want on E-Bay and Amazon. You may save the sales tax and Amazon often offers free shipping. In addition to the magazine reviews, google the make and model you are thinking about and find an online forum discussing it.