© 2008 Jeffrey Jacobowitz


What You Need.


Multi-Channel Sound.

What to Buy.

Where to Buy.

Hook It Up.

Mail order

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..


Custom Installer

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.

Home automation centric installers are listed @ Electronic House.

Hook It Up.