Beware of TVs that cost more than a house

It seems like it’s getting a little harder all the time for me to experience real “sticker shock.” You know the feeling — you see the price of something and go into wide-eyed, mouth-agape shock that it could actually cost that much.

It can come in small amounts, like the $2 soda at a fast-food joint that you know probably has about 20 cents of beverage in it. Or it can go large, like a house priced over a million dollars in a neighborhood you’re afraid to even drive through. And that’s not even including the super-inflated $500 hammer you hear about the government purchasing now and then. I’m more in line with just day-to-day type pricing.

Complaining about the price of something is an age-old tradition. My first real exposure to that came while working behind the parts counter of a farm implement store while in high school and college. Whether it was a 10-cent bolt or a $100 gear, it was too much according to just about everyone on the other side of the counter. And I know a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas cost a lot more now than they did in “the good old days,” so sticker shock doesn’t really apply there either. I just have the thought in my head because of how much a person could spend if they really put their mind to it.

There’s a big convention going on in Las Vegas this week — the annual Consumer Electronic Show. Every year the techno savvy and those who report on them converge to see the latest and greatest. It’s where electronics companies will often reveal their next big product to the public. Odds are the cellphone you carry in your hand was either unveiled at this show, or at least works from components first seen at CES. But don’t just think phones and computers — anything electronic is fair game.

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new TV, but you want it to be the best out there. You might want to check the show in Vegas this week to see what the measuring stick is for that standard. I haven’t read in detail what’s coming up, but I did notice headlines for 3-D TVs that don’t need glasses. Or the fact that if your TV doesn’t have Internet connectivity and the ability to download what you want to watch when you want to watch it, well, then, you might as well just have a 19-inch black-and-white with rabbit ears.

But if you want the latest, bring your checkbook. The article I read touted the new TVs from one electronics company. Newer technology is said to give it the brightest, most life-like picture out there. So you want that. And if the picture is going to be that clear, it might as well be big, too. I’m not talking enormous here — it still has to fit in the house and not require adding on a new room. Let’s say it’s a 55-inch screen. That sounds reasonable, right? And come on, it has to be affordable. Indeed it is, if you consider $12,000 to be affordable.
Twelve grand for a TV! Not to sound too old or anything, but my first real job out of college paid me less than that per year. I’ve come to grips with the fact that a decent car is going to cost more than what my parents paid for the house I grew up in, but this TV even comes way too close to that. Toss in the furniture to hold it and a DVD player to hook up to it and you’re talking a newly constructed three-bedroom ranch in the 1960s.

I know this is the exception and not the rule. And I have a fairly nice, relatively new TV that is serving me just fine, and cost a lot less. But this just might qualify as a sticker-shock-inducing product.

I’d have to have an amazing run of luck in a different part of Las Vegas before I could put in my order for this TV.

Wait a minute, that just might work. Anyone know what plane tickets are running these days?

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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