Best Buy, Samsung, and Sony

I am not an early adopter. I do not rush out to buy the latest and greatest of anything. If I have something that works, then I keep using it until it absolutely won’t work anymore.

For example, Nellie and I bought a Honda Accord when we were first married. Fourteen years later, we had put almost 300,000 miles on that car and would have tried to put on another 300,000. Unfortunately, it met an early demise when it encountered a herd of black Angus cattle on a very dark country road at one a.m. in the morning. So long, brave companion.

We have a computer we purchased thirteen years ago which is still running Windows 98. Computers evolve about as quickly as fruit flies, which means that in human years our computer is like 450 years old. This is like going to war with first-generation muskets while everyone else is using Predator drones. And we’re okay with that, even though it appears we’re going to have to retire the old fellow this year.  Alas.

I have these fine olive green dress pants that are fifteen years old. When the rise finally wore out, I had Nellie fix it.  She put in a bright Kermit-The-Frog green patch, which draws a lot of attention to an area that’s been down-played ever since the codpiece went out of fashion in the late 1500’s. Was this sweet revenge for eating her stash of chocolate? Or a cleverly planned source of constant enjoyment? I do not know. But as a result, I do not wear these pants to church and important business meetings. I wear them hiking. They protect me from bushes and mosquitoes, yet breathe with perfection. Why would I ever get rid of them?

As you can see, I’m not a buy buy buy guy. Which means that when I get something it better darn well be a fine product because I know I’m likely to be using it for a very long time. And this brings me to our recent television and blu-ray player purchase. Two years ago some friends who had just purchased a big flat screen TV saw that we were still using our twenty-three year old 15″ RCA, took pity on us and gave us the 21″ TV they were replacing. It is one of those big suckers that weighs 475 pounds, but still a fine TV, and we watched it with joy.

However, a few weeks ago our antenna converter box broke. Our church’s semi-annual worldwide conference was coming up, which is a feast we love to watch, and so we were faced with choice: buy another converter box or pay a few more dollars and move into the twenty-first century with a flat screen. Now, while it’s true I’m not a buy buy buy guy, it is also true that I have been longing for a manly TV lo these many years. This was my chance. When Nellie agreed we should look for a new TV, I went into immediate action.

We started our search at Best Buy. The sales guys there were incredibly helpful. But we wanted to shop a bit more. So we went to a discount club, and thinking we’d save thirty bucks, purchased our TV there. We took it home, and I did not like it. I looked up the reviews on Consumer Reports and liked it even less. So I took it back. Sam’s has a great return policy, and gave us a full refund. Good bye, piece of crap.

I went to Best Buy again. After talking with the floor guy there for some time, I purchased a 32″ Samsung LN32D Series 4. No, it’s not 60 inches of gorilla manliness, but a 32″ TV does have a bit of hair on its chest. And it was bigger than what we’d been using. And it was only a few hundred bucks. I found this TV’s picture much better. Excellent, in fact, with the TV stations. However, my DVDs didn’t play so well on it.

I took it back to Best Buy. The folks there spent an hour testing other TVs and demonstrating that the issue was not the TV but my old Sony DVD player which could only use RCA cables. I needed a new player with the new HDMI cable, which is able to deliver much better quality. So I purchased one, a blu-ray player, brought it home, and found that the picture was indeed much better, but I hated the player’s remote controls. For example, I want to push one button to bring up the disc menu. I do not want to click options, over, down, down, down to do this each time.

I took it back. The folks at Best Buy were as friendly and helpful as ever. There was no hassle returning it. We spent another thirty minutes test driving different players and their remotes. I finally settled on a Sony BDP-5390 which is fabulous, not only because the remote and on-screen controls were helpful and it remembers where I was with movies I don’t finish, but also because it has a number of apps that allow me to connect to my wi-fi and watch things like YouTube, listen to internet radio, and pipe music all through my house.  There are so many cool features that I’m going to be enjoying discovering them all for a number of weeks. In all of this, the folks at Best Buy were cheerful, helpful, knowledgeable, and willing to work with someone who was very particular in what he wanted. I am now a Best Buy believer. If you want excellent customer service and good prices, go to Best Buy. I’ll be going back there for my next TV . . . when this one has racked up two gajillion viewing hours and at last gives up the ghost.

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