Tech For Less - Buying Open Box & Refurbished HDTVs - How To Guide
Watching a big-screen HDTV (high-definition television) in your home is like having your own, personal movie theater experience, without the hassle of going anywhere or standing in line. You'll be surprised how affordable a big-screen HDTV is when you buy Open Box or Refurbished. Experience the same luxury of a brand-new HDTV, but for a lot less money.
In the last decade, HDTVs have rapidly replaced the older, bulkier CRT/DLP versions. The newer HDTV models have enormous appeal over the older sets. They are thinner, lighter, brighter and offer an amazing picture with razor-sharp resolution. Many HDTVs are Internet ready, and the newest sets are 3D capable.
If you're ready to buy a big-screen HDTV, let us help you learn a little about the technology, so you can decide which one is best for you.
What Do You Need in a Big-screen HDTV?
There's a wide variety of HDTVs from which to choose. Here is a quick guide explaining some of the technology behind HDTVs, as well as other factors to consider.
Quick Tech Guide:
- Size - First, consider the size of the room where you're going to place your HDTV. Generally, the larger the room, the bigger the screen. Your viewing distance should be between 1.5 to 3 times the screen size, so a 60-inch HDTV is best viewed from about 7.5 feet to 15 feet. If you are not sure if you want one size vs. another, we have found that people are happiest when they buy the larger size. Measure the space you have, to ensure there's enough room for the size screen you want. Screen size is measured diagonally so you can't just go by that to figure out how much space you need.
Type - You can choose from four types of flat-panel HDTVs: Plasma, LCD, LED and OLED.
- Plasma HDTVs work best in dark or dimly lit rooms. They have a higher contrast than LCDs, producing deeper blacks, richer colors, and they tend to have a quick refresh rate for gaming, sports and action movies. Plasmas do take more power, so they are the least energy-efficient of the choices. Plasma HDTVs are only available in 42-inches or larger. Also, if you plan to use your TV at very high altitudes, think ski resorts, plasma TVs tend to be noisier, even though they are much better now than several years ago.
- LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) TV's work best if your viewing room is bright and well lit. They're available in the widest range of sizes, tend to be less expensive and more energy efficient than Plasmas, yet still provide a quality picture.
- LED (Light-Emitting Diodes) HDTVs work well in both brightly and dimly lit rooms. They produce deep blacks and rich colors like Plasmas. They have a wide viewing angle, they're highly energy efficient, and many models come as super-thin panels for ideal wall mounting. An LED TV is actually an LCD TV with LEDs as the light source rather than fluorescent backlights.
- OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) televisions offer the latest cutting-edge HDTV viewing experience. OLEDs work uniquely by sending electricity through certain materials that glow the specific colors of red, green and blue (the colors needed to produce a TV image). OLED televisions are thinner, lighter, more energy efficient and better performing than the rest. They are also significantly more expensive and only a few companies make them. As time goes by, however, other companies are sure to start making them, which would bring the price down.
- Pixels and Bits - A pixel (short for picture element) is a single, tiny dot in a screen image. Thousands or even millions of pixels make up the images on an TV screen. The pixels are so close together they appear connected. Typically, a single pixel is too small to see. Each pixel can be only one color, but since pixels are so small, they blend to create various shades and colors. Each pixel is made up of bits, and the number of colors a pixel can be, is determined by how many bits are used to represent it. The lower the bit color depth, the more grainy the picture.
- Resolution - This refers to the number of visible lines counted from the top of the TV screen to the bottom. A 720p HDTV has 720 visible lines, and a 1080p HDTV has 1,080 visible lines. The latest technology is 4K Ultra HD TV, which has 2,160 visible vertical lines. When choosing an HDTV, the greater the resolution the better the picture definition. The 1080p HDTVs are ideal for content like Blu-ray movies, but a 720p HDTV still provides a solid performance.
- Smart TVs - If you have a router for your home computer, a Smart TV can connect to your Internet signal so you can stream movies, videos and music. A Smart TV often can browse the Web and perform more functions than just stream content, depending on the manufacturer. It might have special apps, content, recommendations and more.
- HDMI - A single, all-digital HDMI cable carries both the picture and sound for a simpler home theater setup. It's the best connection for hi-definition and many home theater components and gaming consoles use it for connections. Look for more HDMI inputs on an HDTV to allow you to connect more devices.
- Viewing Angle - This is the maximum angle at which a TV display can be viewed with acceptable visual performance. Sets with greater viewing angles allow for more people to watch at varying angles to the TV and still see with clarity and detail.
- Contrast Ratio - This is the contrast between dark and light. Higher contrast sets offer sharper, more lifelike pictures. A screen whose brightest white is 10 times as bright as its darkest black, for instance, would have a contrast ratio of 10:1. The higher the number, the greater the range of brightness and the more contrast between dark and light.
- Response Time - This is the speed at which a TV panel's twisting nematic crystals generate color and light. It is measured in milliseconds (ms), and the lower the response time the better, particularly for gaming. Higher response times create motion lag, that slight trailing sensation visible when fast-motion scenes occur. Plasma technology doesn't rely on twisting crystals which is why it has a lot less motion blur.
- Refresh Rate - This rate is the number of times a TV display's image (pixels) is reconstructed per second. The refresh rate is measured in hertz so a refresh rate of 120 Hz means the image is refreshed 120 times per second. The more times the screen is "refreshed" every second, the smoother the image and the less motion blur there is. A casual viewer may not be able to tell the difference between a set refreshing at 120 Hz and one with a 240 Hz rate, but a gamer might. Refresh rates are especially important if you plan to watch 3D material on your HDTV. A higher refresh rate allows the TV to display the different sets of images necessary to create the illusion of depth. Some manufacturers are using other terminology to indicate the rate that their TVs refresh via other scanning/processing methods, and the same principle holds true, that the higher the rate, the less potential motion blur.
- 3D TV - With the right accessories, glasses, and a 3D source like a 3D Blu-Ray player, a 3D TV can display content that was designed to appear like 3D. Even if you don't use this function on your TV, the 2D picture quality is not affected. The 3D feature can be turned on at any time when 3D is applicable.
Now that you know a bit more about big-screen HDTVs, here are four things to consider when buying refurbished:
1) Why Buy an Open Box/Refurbished Big-screen HDTV?
- Price - You'll paying less for a refurbished/open box big-screen HDTV than you would for a brand-new television. With your savings you can upgrade to a higher performance set and still get a great deal! You're paying less for more.
- Value - A new HDTV costs 20 percent to 40 percent more than an equivalent open box or refurbished HDTV. You can keep the money you save, or maybe you can now buy a mount on which to place your big-screen HDTV. That's smart shopping!
- Be Green - Buying refurbished electronics is good for the environment. Instead of being tossed into a landfill, a refurbished HDTV gets a second life in someone's home. What could be better than saving money while helping the environment?
- Tested and Guaranteed - Tech For Less thoroughly inspects and tests every item and makes sure it's at manufacturer standards before we sell it. We also provide a product warranty - so you don't have to worry about a thing when you buy a refurbished or open box big-screen HDTV from us.
2) What Should You Look For When Buying an Open Box/Refurbished Big-screen HDTV?
- Clear Definition of Condition - Different companies have different definitions of refurbished. Check the company's website for clear definition of condition. You can also contact the company to ask for clarification. When you receive the refurbished item, it's usually packaged in a simple brown box, and it may show limited signs of use. And though manuals and software may not be included, they are usually available to download from the manufacturer's website.
- Know the Difference Between Refurbished and Used - Usually when you buy a big-screen HDTV from a source like eBay, you have no real way of knowing if you are getting used or refurbished. Refurbished means the HDTV was removed from the shelf or returned to the manufacturer maybe because of a defect, or it was among an oversupply. A refurbished HDTV has been thoroughly tested, repaired as needed, and made just as good as if it were new.
- Support - Make sure the company has a customer service department, provides support after the sale, and offers an extended warranty. Also check to see if you can return the HDTV if it doesn't work like it's supposed to or if you decide it's not the one you really wanted.
- Trusted Retailer - It pays to find out a little bit about who you're buying from. For instance, how long have they been in business? Is the site secure? Does the company specialize in selling open box and refurbished products? Can you read customer testimonials on their website? Be sure they offer a return policy as well as a product warranty. And look for trusted seller ratings such as accreditation with the Better Business Bureau.
3) Where Can You Buy Open Box & Refurbished Big-screen HDTVs?
- Local Stores - Some stores sell refurbished equipment but they may not specialize in it. Their "refurbished" product may have been a floor demo unit that could have issues. Always ask about the source of their refurbished product.
- Big Box Online Retailers - Many online retailers offer a combination of new, used and refurbished products. Make sure the product has been thoroughly inspected and tested and that any repairs needed have been made. Carefully read the retailer's description of condition so you know exactly what you're getting. Customer testimonials on their website are always helpful as well.
- Direct from Manufacturer - HDTV manufacturers may offer them as refurbished, but the selection usually is limited and the discount isn't much at all.
- Specialty Retailers like Tech For Less - We do specialize in this after all, which means this is our sole business and focus! When you buy open box or refurbished from us, you are getting just as we promise. We have a huge, revolving inventory, which allows you to find the big-screen HDTV that you want, on your budget.
4) Why Buy an Open Box/Refurbished Big-screen Television From Tech For Less?
- Selection - You'll find hundreds of top name-brand HDTVs on our website, which is very easy to navigate. It's easy to narrow your search by brand, condition, screen size, speed, resolution, price and more.
- Price - We constantly search the Internet to make sure we have the lowest prices. And our prices are always low because we buy our inventory in large quantities - so we can pass the savings on to you!
- Quality Control - Every HDTV that arrives at our warehouse is tested and inspected by our experienced technicians to make sure it is in perfect working order we ship it to you.
- Customer Service - Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you with any questions or concerns about your purchase - before and after you buy it.
- Warranty - Every product has the manufacturer warranty so you can be confident that in the unlikely event that something does happen, you'll be taken care of!
- Return Policy - In case there is an issue with your product, you can return the item within 30 days of purchase. We try to make it as smooth as possible for you to return the item. All Tech For Less products carry a warranty, with a full refund or product replacement.
Buying an Open Box/Refurbished big-screen HDTV allows you try the more expensive brands that may have been outside your budget. And buying refurbished does not mean you're settling - you're saving money because you get more for less!
One final note: Not all open box and refurbished products are sold using the high standards we use at Tech For Less. That's why it really pays to shop with an industry leader like Tech For Less. We've been selling open box/refurbished the right way since 2001 to more than 1 million customers.
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Rolf A. - May 26th 2016