Sunday, November 26, 2006

The informed shopper and Black Friday

So how did you do the day after Thanksgiving? Many people were there when the doors opened at 5:00 AM, and many departed with some kind of consumer electronics. In fact, the CE category was the big winner this year.

Reading anecdotal stories from various newspapers across the country, it seems few people thought out their purchases (beyond price). The most common purchases seemed to be flat-panel TVs, DVD players, MP3 players and game consoles -- all basically stand-alone items.

In the Bloomberg story I've linked to above, one shopper reports that "[she] bought a 42- inch Panasonic plasma TV for $1,000 at a Best Buy Co. store the day after Thanksgiving. The set was marked down from $1,700 and was "my gift to me."

I wonder if any research went into that purchase. If not, there may be some unpleasant surprises in store. Expect to mount it on a wall? The wall mount is a separate purchase -- expect to spend around $100 or so. Gonna just put it on your current A/V stand? Hope it isn't particle board -- that TV weighs about 69 lbs.

And if you're going to mount it on the wall, its best to get someone who knows what they're doing. If the mount isn't anchored to studs that set's going to take a spectacular nose-dive to the floor.

How about the rest of her gear? GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) applies to video as well. If she's only getting standard analog broadcasts (or the equivelant from cable or satellite), then its gonna have the same poor resolution -- only it will be easier to see how bad it really is. While the set does have a built-in tuner for over the air digital broadcasts, without the proper reciever and connections, her cable service or satellite TV digital signal will be downcoverted -- and look like her plain old analog broadcasts.

It could be that she was prepared for all that, and everything's fine. But my rule of thumb is this: if it costs more than $20.00, its too expensive to qualify as an impulse purchase.

- Ralph


  1. Hey there. Saw your post about the plasma tv. Mounting it on a wall is easier than you think. You just have to do it the right way. Check out my post at


  2. You've got a good point -- properly wall-mounting a flat-panel TV isn't difficult. And your post at is excellent. Clear, step-by-step instructions coupled with well-executed photos -- this is really a helpful resource.

    While not especially hard, proper wall-mounting does take a little time and effort. My point was to ask if the purchaser had thought any of this through. In conversations with my non-technical friends, I've found there's an assumption that you just take the set out of the box and hang it like a picture. With some of these friends, finding out that the process is much more involved would significantly change their decision to purchase -- especially as an impulse item.