In the market for an LCD TV? Get a Warranty!

If you read my previous posts, you know my story of my faulty LCD TV. The reason for this post is to share what I learned...always get the extended warranty on your television!

For those who did not read other posts, I bought a Sony Bravia 46" LCD TV (V3000 series) that lasted for 20 months before requiring a new panel due to a faulty timing control (T-Con) board. This part is much more expensive than just getting a new TV ($2500 in my case). There is evidence of this being a widespread problem, but Sony refuses to claim responsibility. As my options now may take a while to resolve (small claims, civil court, class action), I am currently in the market for a new television.

One thing that has surprised me in my research to my problem is that LCD TVs seem to be much less reliable than CRT TVs. When I was purchasing my television, I declined an extended warranty as Sony represented quality and it would be a waste of money. Obviously I regret that now. Sony has had numerous problems with their televisions. They were the subject of multiple class action lawsuits regarding problems with their rear projection Wega line. Reference 1 is a site with an outstanding summary and detailed information about legal methods available to resolve this issue with Sony. A smaller, but significant number of people have had problems like mine, where the right side of the screen develops lines and distorted images and colors. It starts out intermittent, but gets worse over time. It starts to appear anywhere from 15 to 24 months after purchase...after the manufacturers warranty is expired. How widespread are these issues? Start with Reference 2 at ConsumerAffairs.com and read through the 40 pages of customer complaints. You can also do some searches at AV Science Forum, such as Reference 3, which details the same problem on the Sony Bravia XBR4 line.

What surprised me most though was that seemingly every manufacturer seems to have some kind of problem that plagues them. Samsung TVs often fail after a couple years with on/off power cycling due to a capacitor issue[Reference 4]. The same reference hints that Vizio TVs may have a power supply problem. Toshiba settled a class action lawsuit in 2009 on their DLP TVs due to premature bulb burnout. Toshiba Regza line seems to have widespread panel problems as well, making them effectively useless due to cost to repair [Reference 5]. Panasonic has a lot of complaints about power supplies failing, resulting in a TV that will not power up and just flash diagnostic blinks [Reference 6]. And remember, these are just a sampling of the major brands.

The moral of this story is simple, and one I want to share because I wish I knew it two years ago. Always, Always, ALWAYS, get the extended warranty with your LCD TV. My current unresolved dilemma is whether to buy another brand name TV knowing that I will get the warranty and the major brands do not stand by their product anyways, or do I just get a cheaper brand (Sceptre, Insignia, etc.) and save some money?

Updates with answers to my above question:

Reference 7 details how Vizio has become the top selling brand in North America (it cracks me up how they say "ways until it becomes a Sony", as they have among the most problems of any major brand in my research), so I am not alone in this thinking.

PC World has released its HDTV 2010 Reliability and Service Rankings[Reference 8], and amazingly Insignia is near the top in their first year. I need to go back to Best Buy to give their current TV, Blu Ray, Installation package another thought.

If you have any opinions, please feel free to share at the email address below or via @brianmokeefe on Twitter.

NOTE: I plan on adding to this post as I uncover more information

REF 1: http://sites.google.com/site/sonylcdrptvproblems/
REF 2: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/home_electronics/sony_tv.html
REF 3: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1192725
REF 4: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2010/01/samsung_tvs.html
REF 5: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/home_electronics/toshiba_homent.html
REF 6: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/home_electronics/panasonic_lcd_tv.html
REF 7: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/vizio-samsung-sony-lcd-hdtv,news-3906.html
REF 8: http://www.pcworld.com/article/187407-3/reliability_and_service_2009_tec...

Other Unnumbered References to the Sony problem
http://www.highdefforum.com/flat-panel-tvs/105286-sony-bravia-issues-hor...
http://www.justanswer.com/questions/1zy5q-i-have-a-15mo-old-sony-kdl46xb...
http://www.fixya.com/support/t3491765-sony_lcd_hdtv_line_thin_white_hori...
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=17839784
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1206002
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1192725
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=893637&page=383
http://www.epinions.com/reviews/Sony_KDL_46XBR4_Television
http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Bravia-KDL-52W3000-52-Inch-1080p/product-revi...
http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11523
http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Have-a-Defective-Sony-TV/182875766612