Monday, November 05, 2007

LCDs and Plasma Televisions Highly Reliable

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Famed product review organization Consumer Reports has found that LCD and plasma televisions are generally very reliable and require few repairs during their first three years of service. The findings are potentially significant as the end-of-year holiday buying season begins, and electronics retailers pressure consumers to purchase extended warranties to go along with their new flat-screen televisions. According to Consumer Reports, most repairs to LCD and plasma televisions fall within manufacturer warranty periods, and even though rear-projection TVs were found to more problematic than LCD or plasma sets, even they don't generally need extended warranties unless they're going to see very heavy use.

Overall, Consumer Reports found that LCD and plasma flat-panel television sets had a 3 percent repair rate, while rear-projection televisions had an average 18 percent repair rate. About a quarter of the repairs in rear-projection TVs involved replacing the bulbs, with many of those failures occurring early in the unit's service and covered by the manufacturer's warranty. Average repairs for a rear-projection TV were $300; Consumer Reports recommends customers considering an extended warranty spend no more than $200 to $300 on it (essentially, the cost of a new bulb) or 15 percent of the unit's price, whichever is lower. But unless users are planning on using the TV 5,000 or more hours within the warranty period, an extended warranty probably still isn't worthwhile.

Among flat-panel televisions, Panasonic's 50-inch TH-50PZ700U plasma was rated the best flat-panel television the organization had ever tested. Panasonic LCD and plasma sets had a 2 percent overall repair rate; other brands with low LCD repair rates included JVC, Toshiba, Samsung, and Sony, while Pioneer and Samsung plasma sets were also found to be reliable. Consumer Reports found less reliable sets were sold by Dell LCD TV (the company has exited the flat-panel TV market), Hitachi LCDs, and Philips plasma sets.

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