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Flat screen TVs become more reliable

December 7, 2007 12:00:00 AM PST
A flat screen TV might be on your holiday wish list. LCDs and plasmas are a better bargain this year, costing about 30 percent less than last holiday season. But before you buy, which ones will save you a repair headache down the road?Nearly 25 percent of American households will buy a flat screen TV over the holidays. And you'll be happy to know, Consumer Reports' National Research Center finds that while the technology is still relatively new, it is proving to be quite reliable.

LCD and plasma TVs look nice in the store, but how well will they hold up once you get them home? Consumer Reports' Meredith Bachman has good news after analyzing survey results covering nearly 75,000 flat-screen TVs bought in the past three years.

"Overall, only about three percent of the sets needed repair," said Bachman.

Of the brands covered in the survey, the most reliable flat screen TVs were Panasonic, Sony, Sharp, Samsung, Toshiba, and JVC.

"We also looked at rear-projection sets," said Bachman. "With these TVs, people are experiencing many more problems."

Michael Williams, who's been fixing televisions for more than 30 years, says he gets a lot of rear-projection sets in his shop these days. But even with the higher repair rate, Consumer Reports says buying an extended warranty is rarely a good deal.

"Chances are you're going to pay more for that warranty than you would for any cost of repair you might incur," said Bachman.

Still, Consumer Reports says with rear-projection sets, be prepared to replace the bulb. It's not uncommon for the bulb to go out within the first year or two.

So right now, the most reliable sets are the plasmas and the LCDs. And stay away from the lesser known brands. You often get what you pay for.

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