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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Part of moving is that we’re giving our borrowed 30" ProScan television and beautiful stand thing from another era back to its rightful owners. This means a new television, which would be simple. Well, simple except god knows what the right choice is these days with CRT, CRT projectors, LCOS, DLP, LCD, plasma, DCDi, HDMI, 780i, 780p, 1080i, 1080p (!!), and on and on. After some looking, weighing of longevity, picture quality, price/value, and price/chance of deprecation, we settled on the value play – a modest third generation DLP back-projection television. This gives us the following advantages over competing technologies:

  • Substantially cheaper than plasma and LCD for just about any size
  • Lasts longer than plasma and LCD
  • Lower profile and lighter-weight than CRT and CRT back-projection
  • No burn-in effects
  • Fully digital, so upsampled DVDs, digital cable, and HDTV broadcast/digital cable (college football in HDTV, here we come!) will look stellar. Shame PS2 doesn’t have HDMI. GT4 in widescreen: drool. Maybe PS3… I digress.
  • Relatively cheap to operate
  • Less than 100 pounds

Downsides are that you have to replace the bulb every 5000 hours (not a big deal compared to recharging or failed backlighting; there’s virtually no burn-in or fade problems over time with this technology, since it’s just a color wheel, bulb, and a chip covered in mirrors), an upsampling DVD player is required in order to get decent performance out of the set, and it suffers from the dreaded rainbow effect. Sarah and I went to Best Buy and danced our eyes around the screens of some DLP sets, and decided that while noticeable if looking, the rainbow effect wasn’t enough to drive us nuts. The third-generation sets were super-sharp, and had really nice contrast, even with moderate ambient light present. Decision made.

Not so fast. Enter market behavior and underestimated demand.

Two weeks ago we decided on this television; at this point it had just been released, and the first few reviews were coming out, and first few folks were getting theirs delivered. We put it in our Amazon wish list, because we wouldn’t be getting our house until yesterday.

Full stop.

We got our house yesterday! It is swell. Only downside is it looks like we’ll need to re-paint living room and kitchen now, which we didn’t figure on. C’est la vie.

Where was I?

We didn’t want to order our television yet, because despite it being relatively light-weight, it still weighs 90 pounds, and comes in a large crate. Therefore, we want it drop-shipped to the new condo, and not to somewhere from where we have to pay to move it again. So we waited two weeks. Originally, Amazon had a supernaturally low price, and J&R provided, through Amazon, a price just 10% higher, which was still quite reasonable. I say it was supernaturally low, because it costed less than the comparable second-generation units released previously. This didn’t make much sense, but we assumed it’s because the new technology is cheaper, they want to move units, and they wanted to price it to sell.

Enter yesterday, when said television is ordered. The lowest price on Amazon is now from OneCall, at the price listed originally by Amazon. Add to Cart. Enter shipping … Enter credit … Complete Order …

Oh, We’re sorry, but that item is no longer available.

Can you get a bait-and-switch?

Now the Amazon price and J&R price has rocketed up 22% from their original prices. Best Buy and Circuit City tack on another 20% beyond that. Why?

  • Positive reviews of said television set
  • First availability of a top-notich 3G HDTV DLP
  • It was a good value for the money
  • Because they can
  • Everybody freaking wants one, and the price gets jacked, because people will pay the price, and then it’s a more realistic price for the money.

It’s interesting to observe market behavior up close and personal, I just wish it wasn’t directly impacting us.

Anyhow, we ended up getting it from Amazon … didn’t get the television stand ordered from them, as it would have cost another 50% of the cost of the stand to have it shipped, so will try to pick it up from a local Circuit City.

On that note, I’m flustered with both Circuit City’s and Best Buy’s web sites. You cannot just enter a model number into its search and find that model. This is inexcusable. It would be like if I couldn’t search by ISBN on Amazon. Searching by manufacturer works, but doesn’t bring up all of that manufacturer’s products (on either site!). Searching for DLP stand, and then browsing through half a dozen pages gets one there in both cases, but like I say … this doesn’t make any sense. Picking the television first, and then selecting “accessories” doesn’t get the stands. Give me a break!

Maybe people just tend to buy these things in person…