Add-on Warranty for your Flat Screen TV Purchase: A Good Idea?

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fst-0000001I have never been a fan of buying extended or add-on warranties. We see them being offered almost everywhere you buy stuff— most especially electronic stuff— but I believe they aren’t a practical addition to any of your purchases. At least not most of the time. If you’re buying a flat screen LCD/LED/OLED TV from one of the top brands, I believe you are mostly covered from rare occurrences of any defect as they do offer some form of manufacturer’s warranty. In a 2012 report by CNET, it was indicated that the repair rate among the big brands stands at an estimate of only 4.3% to 4.6% for LCD and plasma units (data was based on Consumer Reports surveys from 2008 to 2012). An aggregate of all the brands (not just the top ones) brings it up to only around 6%.

What this tells us is that these devices are fairly robust and isn’t as fragile as some people think. And consequently, spending additional cash for extended or add-on warranty may be something you won’t need approximately 95% of the time.

The Exception

However, I do admit that, after getting an input from one of this site’s readers, my views have changed somewhat. There may be a good justification for spending a little extra to protect you from the unfortunate hassle getting a lemon entails.

In a previous article I talked about the emergence of inexpensive Ultra-HD 4K flat screen displays along with some newer brands most people have never heard about. One such brand is Seiki which offers large-screened 4K TVs that severely undercut big and popular brands like Sony, LG, Samsung, etc. If you are wondering how reliable these units are in the long run then I must welcome you to the club. Without any track record to base that judgment from, we’ll have to learn as we go with these new kids on the block. And if you’re too worried, one good way to mitigate any risks is to, well, get add-on or extended warranty for your TV purchase!

What is a 4k TV?

Justification: A 50-inch 4K model from Seiki costs just a little over $400 as of last check. Adding a 5-year extended warranty plan for an additional $50 seems pretty fair in this context and you still get to significantly undercut the cheapest of similar models offered by the top manufacturers. A 55-inch Sony 4k model is currently being sold for nearly $4,000!!! For the most practical folks out there, this simply is a no-brainer.

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When is it a good idea to buy refurbished TV?

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When people make a decision to buy a TV, in all likelihood, people tend to think only about getting them brand new. As far as I know, it’s not automatic for people to consider one of the better alternatives to getting brand new which is buying refurbished units. After all, you could practically get a brand new unit at almost any price point you can think of these days as competition between manufacturers big and small continually pushes the envelope on innovation and affordability. It’s not unusual to see prices go down drastically in a span of months when it comes new television displays.

Related: Inexpensive Sub-$1,000 4K (Ultra HD) TVs You Can Buy Today

Hence, this brings us to the question on whether it is still a good idea to get a refurbished TV unit if you can get a brand new one at roughly the same cost? Below is a list of what I think are good reasons why you could still go for refurbished units despite the temptation to go brand spankin’ new:

  1. Compared to brand new units, refurbished ones of the same make and model should be comparatively cheaper. This is somewhat of a more practical option if you’re looking to get a relatively new model that’s currently in production. So if you want that new LCD or LED TV model and want to save some bucks, you should go check out the “Used” or “Refurbished” sections and look at “factory refurbished” units. Factory reconditioned or refurbished units are preferred because you can expect that they have been re-calibrated to the correct manufacturer’s specifications.

  2. If a “refurb” unit is an “old” model or is no longer in production, then getting it only makes sense if the the price is right and the model is known to be a good one. Consider this if you’re looking at getting a bigger screened unit (say, in the 50-inch and above ranges) which could still be extremely pricey even at the reconditioned or refurbished category. Getting the really big screen size flat screen you want at a lower price should be nice option for anyone but you’ll need to make sure the unit is covered by some form of warranty.
  3. If you’re an advocate or recycling then one area in which you can certainly help is in helping reduce electronic waste. Why get a brand new unit if you can get pre-owned or used one? You can even get a malfunctioning unit, have it repaired to factory specs and voila! You have your refurbished TV! One less burden for the landfill!

While the above reasons may not be slam-dunk arguments for getting reconditioned or refurb flat screen television units, they can be worthwhile for a select group of people who do want to consider all (as in all) options in their TV acquisition plans. What do you think?

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Inexpensive Sub-$1,000 4K (Ultra HD) TVs You Can Buy Today

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With most 4K big flat screen TVs from top brands such as Samsung, Sony, LG, etc, still hovering way above 1,000 US dollars, seeing these Ultra High Definition (UHD) screens inside most homes today may seem like a small possibility. However, with what the recently ended Consumer Electronics Show of 2014 is suggesting, this might change pretty quickly as brands like Vizio begin to offer sub-$1,000 4K models. As such, the Samsung-Sony-LG bloc are bound to notice and sooner or later may compete in that price point (or near it at least), especially as the technology continues to mature.

But if you wish to dip into the 4K trend early and get one into your living room right now, you can actually do so without having to withdraw a portion of your retirement savings. While most Samsung-Sony-LG UHD models are still priced around $3,000 and up, some small brands are actually undercutting these big 3 by a huge margin with sub-$1,000 units that are out in the market RIGHT NOW!

Related article: Using a Seiki 4K LED TV as your PC or Mac monitor

Sub-$500 39-inch 4K LED Flat Screen

First on the list is the Seiki Digital SE39UY04 39-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LED TV which is the cheapest I can find right now (at least online). It is a full-fledged 4K device which features all the stuff you’d expect from such a television. It’s flat and thin with a 3840 x 2160 actual screen resolution and a widescreen 16:9 ratio profile and a refresh rate of 130Hz. All the standard connectivity features and ports are offered with 3 HDMI and 2 USB inputs available.

Sub-$1,000 50-inch 4K LED Flat Screens

I found 3 units that fit the bill and one’s another Seiki. The Seiki SE50UY04 50-inch (see product image above) is basically similar to the 39-inch model in features and specs save for the screen size. The other 2 models are from TCL: the TCL LE50UHDE5691 and LE50UHDE5692G which are both UHD models with very similar specs to the Seikis above. One difference is that the second model LE50UHDE5692G is actually a little over the $1,000 budget that I was shooting for (it’s currently $1,099.99 on Amazon). The reason for this is probably because this model is dubbed as a “Smart TV” because it uses an Android OS which means you can use Android applications and get Internet content on it.

If you’re the curious type and wondering what’s all the fuss with all the 4K talk going about the TV industry, but don’t want spend a fortune satisfying your curiosity, then it might be worth it to check out these models from Seiki and TCL. Sure they aren’t produce by the Ivy leagues of electronics manufacturing but if you base it on the current feedback from buyers, it might not be too much of a risk to purchase these things. Why go for HD when you can go Ultra HD, right?

Also read: Choosing between LCD TVs, LED TVs and OLED TVs

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