Home Entertainment Insider Questions
Home Entertainment Insider Questions
Jeff Colen (President, A Sharper Home, Inc.) gives expert video advice on: How can I send video or music from my computer to my to stereo and TV?; Should I buy extended warranties for my electronic equipment? and more...
Do I need a "universal remote"?
A universal remote is essential in terms of being able to control all this technology and make it easy to use. We highly recommend you go with a universal remote; that you consolidate down the remotes. Given the component based system, you could end up with three, four, or five different remotes, all doing different things, and there's nothing more frustrating than when you want to sit down and just enjoy your new home theatre to figure out, "Oh, I've got to press a button on this remote, and then press a button on this remote, and then press a button on this remote in order to make things work", so get a universal remote and you'll save yourself a lot of grief. The universal remote replaces four or five other remotes. It allows you to control all the components in your home audio system. It also allows you to control other devices if they're set up, like lighting, like video cameras for video surveillance, and like your security system. It's all a question of what you've integrated into your home system. So, a universal remote gives you that ability to do it all from one control device.
Do I need special cables or connectors to see HD video on my TV?
There are a number of new cables out there that you do need to consider buying when you buy the latest technologies. In order to see the highest resolution video, you need to invest in a digital cable. There's no way around that. As a result you need to buy a cable called an HDMI cable or a DVI cable. An HDMI stands for high-definition media interconnect. It actually sends high-definition video, as well as audio, from your source to your TV. The nice thing about that is you have one cable that handles everything. The downside to it is that cable tends to be pretty expensive, and it is definitely something that you need to buy in a store; you can't make it, you can't build it, you can't get it any other way than to go out and spend the money.
Do I need a special surge protector for my electronic equipment?
You should always buy a surge protector for your expensive equipment, primarily to protect it against surges. There's nothing more upsetting than to go out and spend four, five, or six thousand dollars on equipment only to be in the middle of a thunderstorm and have a lightning surge hits your house. Your equipment is now worth about ten dollars on the scrap metal market. You do not need to spend a lot of money on a special surge protector or voltage cleaner or any of those things unless you have exceptionally poor electricity in your house. How do you know you have exceptionally poor electricity in your house? When you hook up all of your equipment, you see wavy lines on the TV set or a strange hum from your audio. Then you generally might want to go out and invest in one of the higher performing electrical cleaning or transformation surge protection equipment.
Should I buy extended warranties for my electronic equipment?
Extended warranties are worth buying for electronic equipment when you're spending a large amount of money for a product that you're planning on hanging onto for a number of years. I would always consider an extended warranty for a plasma TV or something along those lines, especially if you're spending more than $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, for that particular piece of equipment. Keep in mind, though, most of the time electronic equipment is digital equipment. It will either work or it won't and you'll know quickly if it's going to fail. It'll fail within the first 3 days most of the time. On lower priced equipment, I wouldn't bother. The technology's going to evolve so quickly that by the time you would go to repair that piece of equipment, you'd probably want to replace it anyway.
Can I negotiate the price of electronic equipment?
You should always negotiate prices for the equipment. Every retailer out there has some flexibility with regard to the pricing. There is less flexibility on bigger ticket items though like TVs. Margins on TVs tend to be very low. But, a lot of retailers out there are willing to negotiate with you, especially if you are going to bundle in other service, or get a warranty or go for installation services, so sure. It never hurts to ask. You can always negotiate the installation cost of your system. In fact, installation, you should be wary as a consumer about someone who will quote a fixed price for installation, time and time out because every installation, and we have done thousands at this point, is a little bit different and a little bit unique. There is always some twist to it that can impact the cost. So, you shouldn't have to pay a premium price, for example, if your installation is a very straight forward, simple install. On the other hand, if it is an elaborate and atypical type of installation, you should expect to pay a premium for that service.