Big Box Store Survival Guide

Come out ahead shopping at the local Big Box store

In this section of our HDTV shopping guide, we've already determined what we need in a new HDTV and we've matched it to the display technology [Display Technologies] that makes sense to us. Now we're ready to enter the busy marketplace for HDTVs in the Big Box Store.

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Big Box Shopping

Surveys show that people appreciate the price and selection of the local big box electronics retailers, like Best Buy or Circuit City, but are also intimidated by the very places they prefer. The overall shopping experience of the big box store can be trying with sales staff pushing extended warranties and expensive cables you don't need. Let's examine how to stay focused when you dive deep into the belly of one of these warehouse stores.

When you head to the TV department of most big box stores, you'll find the TV section divided into a few categories. Generally the less expensive direct view CRT models will be in one area stacked up the wall. These will be close to the flat panel HDTVs. Then, there will be an area where the micro-displays are probably close together. It's harder to find CRT rear projection TVs these days as many stores have stopped carrying them altogether. No matter where you walk the store will probably be loud and will undoubtedly have a movie soundtrack playing to demonstrate the newest model 5.1 sound system. One or two of the most expensive HDTVs in stock will be on display so you can sit in front of it with a sound system setup around it. Don't be too swayed by the image quality of the TV they use as an example for their display. It has probably been well calibrated and lowering yourself into a couch to view it will automatically make the set look better.

Here's where you must focus. You already have an idea what you're looking for so, once you slice the whole TV section of the big box store into the section you're interested in, the place becomes smaller. Even if you're interested in seeing what more than one type of TV looks like, be sure to keep the sharp divisions in your mind.

  • Flat Panel: Most expensive, most reliable. Includes Plasma and LCD panels.
  • Micro-displays: Big screens, larger footprint, will save money. Includes LCD, DLP, LCoS rear projectors.
  • CRT: Big picture tube best value for an HDTV.