You can save the most money by ordering your HDTV or sound system mail order. Many
Internet retailers advertise tempting prices for most of the available brands. However,
there are additional factors you should be aware of. If your display or audio equipment
needs to be returned, you must assume the return shipping cost (just as you would
have to drive to a store to return an item) and that would eat up most of your savings.
Many items offered for sale don’t come with a manufacturers’ warranty, so read the
fine print to find what kind of warranty you’ll get. Sometimes the Internet retailer
will call you to offer you an extended warranty. If you ask, they will usually discount
the extended warranty too. Internet mail order retailers typically offer no support
with setting up your product. I have found the vast majority of Internet retailers
to be honest businesses and pleasant to deal with. Be sure to check their customer
rating before ordering.
Mail order purchased goods must be installed by you.
Big Box Retailer
Big box retailers, such as Best Buy, are the easiest way to buy your equipment. The
advantages are obvious, easy to find and a large selection. The disadvantage is
that you are typically paying retail prices and getting less than the stellar service
you receive from the audio-video specialty stores. A good compromise for convenience
and price is to wait for a sale on what you want to buy. Most big box retailers
offer installation at a reasonable price.
High End Audio-Video Store
The best equipment and most knowledgeable sales people are found at high end audio-video
stores. This doesn’t mean you can’t buy budget components there, or they won’t be
a good value. Careful selection and matching can yield the best sounding system
in a price range, even when paying list price. And the HDTV’s that come with the
best looking cabinets may only be available at the specialty retailer. If you want
the best available, you really have no choice.
Wholesale Club Store
Sam’s Club and Costco offer a nice selection of HDTV’s. Their discounts are in-between
the prices charged by big box retailers and mail order. Same for their level of
service. If you plan to hook it up yourself, it’s a good place to buy an HDTV. You
also have a convenient place to return a bad display. For anything other than the
HDTV, you’ll likely need to go elsewhere..
Whether an extension of a high-end retailer or working exclusively by appointment,
the most elaborate systems come from certified custom installers. These are the
kind of systems that need a complex remote control system just to make them user
friendly. Costing from the low tens of thousands to six figures and beyond, these
systems don’t come cheap. Understand that the people who sell and install this level
of equipment are worth every penny they charge! Each custom system is a unique combination
that must be designed, installed, programmed and tested. Next, there is a small
learning curve for the consumer. If you have the funds and patience, the reward
will be great.
I recommend you get security, light control, and HVAC control integrated into your
remote control system. Also, networking, video surveillance, intercom systems, and
more, are usually available from the same dealer.
To locate an installer in your area, visit the CEDIA website.