The Cost of Television

As I have previously mentioned, I have escaped the 1st 30yrs of my life without buying a TV. That is all coming to an end as I wrap up my assignment and move back into my house. This will be the first time I ever spend any extended period living without roommates and therefore the 1st time I need to consider buying a TV.

I recognize I can not live without a TV. It’s a shame, but the TV plays an important enough role in my life (news, water cooler talk for "Lost" and other shows, weeknight comedies, and of course, college football) that I know I need to have some sort of TV arrangement. But what?

Here are a couple of my considerations:
-I'm engaged and my fiancée has a newer 32" standard definition TV. When we get married and move in together we will have multiple TVs.
-I am likely going another assignment in the later half of 2007. Since I will probably be spending up to a year in another geography, whatever TV I purchase might be sitting in storage for awhile. This is a wildcard.
-This is my 1st time "nesting" since I have always had roommates or been on assignment. I have lots of things I still need to settle in. A few small appliances, maybe some more furniture eventually, various decor, a surround sound system, etc. Out of everything I see the TV as the biggest priority since I would get the most use out of it.

I have come up with a couple options:
LCD HD 27"-32" TV ~$550-$1,000
A compelling option for me for a couple reasons. I have a small house - the slim profile of the TV would certainly help save space in my living room; I'm a typical guy and it would be nice to have a manly, respectable tv to boost to my friends and entertain with; and they just look cool! If I went with this kind of TV it would be the main TV when I and my fiancee merge household furnishings. Getting High Def cable or satellite is likely out in the near term from a budget stand point, but I could likely get over the air HD broadcasts and watch dvds on it.

Standard Definition 27"-32" tube TV ~$280-$350
The defacto option for me - a large enough TV for a living room. Unless I found a compelling deal in the other areas - I would probably just go buy a TV at Walmart in this area. However this would only get me the same kind of TV my fiancee has - I am not sure what good 2 of them will do us in 9 months or so when we merge our household goods.

The cheapest TV I can find. Probably something like a 20"-27" tv that is on sale <$200.
Since my fiancee has a 32" tv already, I could save a little money by trying to make due with a low-budget tv until we are married and move in together. Price would be the main criteria if I went with this type of TV.

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Comments (15)


I also work for IBM. Whatever you do, take a look at IBM's Beneplace (it helped me save a lot when I bought my last TV)

I would definitely go with a 32 inch LCD HDTV. I really like the AQUOS Sharp TVs. You won't make a wrong decision with that.

Once you have an HDTV though, getting HD content is key. I just went through that. You can see my post about switching from cable to sat.

Go for it. HD is the way!

Just to throw another option into the mix, make sure you check out the Slingbox ( You basically hook it up to your cable feed or Tivo and your home network and you can watch TV on any computer connected to the Internet. I just got one for Christmas and it's pretty awesome. May be good for you since you apparently travel a lot.

I relate buying a standard def TV to buying a VCR. Sure its cheaper but its also dead technology. All feeds are going to HD in the next five years so even if you do buy a SD now, you'll probably end up buying an HD in the not too distance future. Its just a suggestion though. (also note that I don't own an HD yet, still have an 27" SD; my wife and I have had other priorities like new furniture and and now closing on an investment property; we probably won't be getting one for a least another year)

I've been reading for a week or two but I thought I'd submit my first comment today. From a newly wedded Charlottean, congrats on the engagement and good luck to you both!

If you are concerned about ending up with two TVs after the wedding, why buy a new one. Buy a used TV off of craigslist and sell it (on cragslist) when you get married.

Standard used 27"-32" TVs are usually under $200 where I live and right now there are a lot of big projection HDTVs only a couple years old for around $500.

Don't forget to consider that if you watch movies at home for entertainment rather than hitting the cinema is the cost of quality not worth it in the long run?

Personally I'm like you, I'm approaching my 30th birthday and I have yet to buy a TV. But seeing one of those nice HD LCDs hanging on the wall would be nice - I doubt I'll be able to go another 30 years with out buying one but here's hoping for another 5! (the TV is for watching DVDs and Sports)

SED and FED TV's are going to obsolete Plasma & LCD TV's, so I wouldn't invest a lot in either one. Given that you are merging households and going to be away for an extended period of time, you might just pick up a used CRT TV. There are plenty of 32" & 36" versions available from all the people who have brought new flat screen TV's. Check your local Craigslist.

Here's another suggestion. Bag buying the TV for now. There's enough content now on the internet to tide you over. When your fiancee moves in you'll have one, anyway. The prices for LCD and plasma will only be lower one year from now. Also there is new technology coming that blows both of those (LCD, Plasma) out of the water anyway.

I agree with Jojo. Toshiba is partnering with Cannon and coming out with some tech at the end of 2007 that will make you feel you wasted your money on a plasma or LCD tv. I'd go cheap for now, and then spend the big bucks in a couple of years.

Ok first of all I'm going to have to call you out.

Here is a quote directly from you:
"I'm a typical guy and it would be nice to have a manly, respectable tv to boost to my friends and entertain with; and they just look cool!"

First of all you are no a typical guy. A typical guy would have a TV early on in life, probably around 16 years old if not older. You are not a typical guy, and most typical guys watch some sort of sports. Since you did not have a TV in your 30 years as a man, then you are not typical by any means.

So all of a sudden you want a TV to entertain and show off? Ok, sounds odd to me, but not having a TV for 30 years is VERY ODD.

This still seriously amazing me:
"As I have previously mentioned, I have escaped the 1st 30yrs of my life without buying a TV."

I find that almost unbelievable. When it comes to saving money you do some things but NOT having a TV is simply CRAZY.

As far as your TV goes, 32" is pathetic. I'm being serious here when I say it. You should have nothing smaller than a 42" TV. Especially with HDTV being rolled out in most markets now. If you don't know what HDTV is, well then... I can't help you with that. When you start watching HDTV you will need a bigger TV. If you are going with a TV in your bedroom then a 32" would work out, but for the living room, depending on size, it should be between 42" and 65".

You should also splurge and get DirecTV and the NFL Sunday tickets in HD! It's what a lot of guys would do on a Sunday afternoon.

I've said this before, I save a lot of money, but I also have a 57" HDTV! That's almost like not owning a car. You scare me!

Ray, Appreciate the comments - if finances weren't a concern I would completely agree with you.

I said I never owned a tv, not that I didn't use on - I just had roommates who blew there money on tvs so I did not have too :-).

I, as most people, would love a nice big HD tv. Its just not in the cards for me at the moment. I have a lot of other things I have purchased/purchasing (ring, wedding, honeymoon, new house, etc) that unfortuntely take I higher priority than my dream tv.

Let me just throw out a recommendation for the honeymoon if you don't mind. If you two wish to go somewhere tropical and willing to risk carribean travel during hurricane season, you simply cannot beat St. Barth's. My wife and I went in Sept 2006 for our honeymoon and it was unbelievable; great upscale everything, no rundown areas (unlike most other carribean islands), minimally commericalized (no mega-hotels),and its extremely affordable in Sept and Oct. Including airfare and rental-car, a private 1 bedroom house overlooking the bay with its own swimpool for 7 days was actually cheaper than a tiny hotel room at a generic Sandals resort with 1,000 other couples.
I'm not getting paid for this endorsement but we booked through

I'm just shaking my head at the "32 inches is pathetic" comment. He's happy with it! I'm happy with my 15" CRT/VCR combo that I got at a pawn shop for $50 that won't kill my two-year-old daughter should she try to climb on the TV cart when I'm not looking. Whatever floats his remote.

If 2mil develops diagonal envy he can get a 42" next year when it's $100-$200 cheaper.

If I had a 32" TV in my living room I would not be able to see the detail. I know my post sounded bad, but now let me elaborate. With a 32" TV or smaller you are not able to clearly see or appreciate the detail of HDTV. Since TVs are so cheap now that is why I said 42" or bigger. Now if your viewing area is smaller and you are right up on the TV, then maybe..... just maybe you could go with a 32" TV. I'm guessing my sectional is about 10 feet away from my 3 year old Toshiba 57" TV. At the time it cost me $2200 delivered, but a newer model can be had for around $1000 for the same price. My 57" HDTV replaced my 50" SD TV, but I still have the 50" TV and it is utilized elsewhere in the house since I only have 1 HD receiver for use with DirecTV.

Now 2 million, I am going to call you out again :)"I, as most people, would love a nice big HD tv. Its just not in the cards for me at the moment. I have a lot of other things I have purchased/purchasing (ring, wedding, honeymoon, new house, etc) that unfortuntely take I higher priority than my dream tv."

The only thing I will say is that if you are going to buy a weeding ring, what value does it have, as far as utilized daily value over a TV? Sure, the wife will enjoy it for a bit, but the cost of a wedding ring has no added benefit after the initial shock and awe wears off. I'm not going to go indepth about love and all that but spending less if almost nothing on a wedding ring will enable greater savings and the ability to purchase other items, such as a larger TV.


In reply to mbhunter, I once had a 13" tv when I was a teenager. Anything less than 32" today I would not even consider a TV. TV has grown over the years from having small sets showing black and white, to small color sets, to larger sets showing SD TV, and now we have even larger sets with the capability to show HDTV.

If you have not seen HDTV, then you can't truly understand the and appreciate what you are missing.

I assume the 15" CRT/VCR combo does not play HDTV, and since it has VCR attached, I'm wondering if you even watch DVDs, which can be upscaled using a progressive scan DVD player which would enhance the picture further.

Please visit a Circuit City or a Best Buy and have a sales person show you the difference between analog or even digital cable and then have them show you HDTV. The experience is literally amazing.

You cannot compare a cheap car to an expensive car in the same way that you would compare a small non HD TV against a larger HDTV showing HD content. When you can sit and watch a sporting event, underwater video with color fish, wildlife images or a movie in HD, you will then begin to understand how dramatic and different having not only a larger TV is so you can see the detail, but watching that in HD.

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