If you're in the market for a new television set or a home theater system, there will be plenty of deals between now and year-end, according to Robert Silva, a California-based electronics and home theater expert.
''There's a lot of price competition going on just before the holidays,'' Silva said in a phone interview. He is the author of an electronics guide (hometheater.about.com) and the home theater expert for About.com, an affiliate service from The New York Times.
But do your homework before you shop and watch out for the door-buster promotions, which are super-low deals for inferior merchandise. Some dubious promotions (a 27-inch television for $129 or a DVD player for $30) may not offer the quality or features that you want. 'You need to ask yourself if it is really worth it to get up before dawn the day after Thanksgiving to do battle with the 'bargain grabbers' for first crack at something you may just need to get in another long line to return the day after Christmas,'' Silva wrote in his 2007 Holiday Shopping Survival Guide for home entertainment products.
Meanwhile, on the bargain front, Wal-Mart and Circuit City have already begun to sell high-definition DVD players for less than $200. And based on early promotions, Silva expects price wars on plasma and LCD television sets on Black Friday, the first shopping day after Thanksgiving.
Home theater systems can be sold separately or as a theater-in-a-box set, including speakers, a monitor, DVD player and connecting wires. With prices ranging from $200 to $2,000, the boxed sets can save shopping time and money.
Don't spend on technology that will soon be obsolete, Silva cautions. For example, starting Feb. 17, 2009, television shows will only be broadcast through digital technology. Television sets that depend on rabbit ears or outdoor antennas will no longer be able to pick up signals. And while converter boxes will be available for the older analog television sets, he recommends replacing aging sets with newer models as sales are offered.
If you have a library of videocassette tapes, consider buying a combination DVD/VCR player. Prices for these units have fallen significantly in the last few years to about $120, compared to initial prices of $2,000 and up.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
Here are a few helpful links:
Top Home Theater Products for Holiday Shoppers - 2007 Edition
What's Hot and Not For The Holidays - 2007
Home Theater Holiday Shopping Survival Guide
The Frugal Duchess Booktique
The Frugal Duchess of Beauty Store
Book Shop of Fear
The Poetry & Drama Queen
Frugal Jazz & Blues
Frugal Comic Book Connection