April 23, 2009
| by Julie Jacobson
Resourceful consumers think they’re saving a lot of money when they discover cheap alternatives to traditional CE products and services.
But are they really getting a good deal?
Here are some presumed money savers that might not be such good ideas after all:
Ooh, it’s so tempting to pick up one of those Mitsubishi, Panasonic or Samsung bigscreens on the cheap. But look closely. Despite the name brands, many of these TVs have limited functionality for control.
For instance, they may lack discrete IR codes. That means you’ll have a very tough time operating them with a universal remote control. The controller won’t know if a TV is on or off, so it could get messy.
A couple of caveats on the online buying thing. There certainly are some reputable resellers, but others are not authorized by the manufacture to sell their TVs, loudspeakers and other electronics online.
That means your products are not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, and just try getting tech support. When in doubt, check the vendor’s Web site for authorized resellers.
When you see “new” products being sold at a huge discount, there’s a good chance that the seller is not authorized.
The other hidden expense involves shipping and handling. What some of these folks don’t tell you up front is that your big screen may be delivered by one guy who is told to leave the box at your door.
If you want to bribe the delivery guy to help you carry the behemoth into your house, you better make sure someone is at home to help. Cha-ching: a lost day at the office.
And don’t forget the cost and hassle of returning a defective product. It’s on your dime.
Who Needs Prewiring Anyway?
You’re building a house, and the low-voltage guy wants to charge you $5,000 or $10,000 to run a lot of Cat 5 cables for audio, video, automation and other purposes.
But noooooo, you don’t need no stinkin’ cables. Everything’s wireless, right? Just try to get WiFi to penetrate a giant mirror, steel beams, equipment racks or other obstacles between your PC and the router.
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.