Buying electronics can be tricky business. If it’s not deciding between the fifty brands of televisions or trying to decode the latest high-def 4D green-ray jargon to get the latest and greatest player, it’s something else.
With all this confusion, there’s a few common (and easily remedied) mistakes that people make. I talked to a few of the folks here at Vann’s, and they let me in on the most common mistakes they see people making when buying their electronics (which I’m sure you won’t be making).
Mistake #1: The cables come in the box
It’s a long held assumption that the cables you need will always come in the box – after all, they always did before. Advances with picture have gone input-in-output with advances in cables, and in most cases, manufacturers (if they provide a cable at all) provide the most basic and (dare we say it) cheapest cable they can.
So that nice new HDMI-enabled Blu-ray player you just bought? Yep, it’s got a composite cable that can’t get past a poor-quality standard definition picture, and you’re stuck driving around at 10 o’clock at night to find the right connection while everyone else waits at home for you to hook up the television and your children grow to resent you.
That got away from me a little bit.
The remedy is pretty simple: make sure to budget appropriately when you’re buying your next gadget, and pick up the right cable to do it. You can even call and ask, and Vann’s will send it with the rest of your order.
Mistake #2: Speakers connect directly to the television
You’re pretty excited. You just got your brand new speakers that are going to make your television not sound like cats screeching through a tin can (sorry television manufacturers, we love your picture, keep it up).
Unfortunately, they’ve got these weird connections that don’t seem to match up at all with those pins on the back of your television: what’s the deal?
With very, very few exceptions, speakers don’t provide their own power source, and require a pretty decent charge to perform. Plus, they’re usually dumb – that is, they can’t interpret most of the complicated signals sent their way. To get them to work correctly, you need two things: an amplifier to provide juice and a receiver to interpret the signals and send them something they understand. Thankfully, all these come in one package.
It’s called a receiver (which is not confusing at all (it is), and does not lead to other mistakes (it does) we won’t cover here (we won’t)). They come in all shapes and sizes, but if you’re just looking for the easiest to use models, I recommend taking a look at some of the 5.1-channel receivers.
How do you choose the right one? Sorry, that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms. For now, just knowing that you need one puts you several steps ahead.
Mistake #3: No power center
Yes, I understand. You’ve got a power strip that has fifteen outlets. I’m sorry: it’s not the same thing.
A power center is more than just an extra place to plug in your outlets. While it does make it easier to get a home theater system hooked up, a good power center does a few more things than your standard fire hazard.
I’m sorry, I mean power strip.
The most basic models offer safe protection for devices that use steady amounts of power (like televisions, Blu-ray players, and so on) by regulating the power and disconnecting it if it goes above a certain threshold (commonly called a surge).
More advanced models offer better protection (better surge sensing, higher thresholds), and can handle devices that don’t use steady amounts of power (like amplifiers and receivers). They also provide power filtration that filters your power for electro-magnetic and radio-frequency interference. Think of it like filtering your water to get rid of harmful stuff – it makes your power taste better to your devices, which makes them jump higher and run faster (or, more accurately, perform better and run more efficiently).