While we ride out the recession, it seems many of us are experiencing the "cocooning effect" of home-improvement, and TV's are the first on the list, but what's the best value?
Buying a television has never been so easy... or so hard.
Walk into a store, and apart from the size differences, the brands look terribly similar. So how can the big names justify the big prices?
Today Tonight assembled a panel to help answer this question.
The panel members all know televisions and generally agree that cheaper generic brands have improved dramatically - and sales of generic brands are on the increase.
Rodney Balech, National TV Buyer at Dick Smith: "We have found recently people are going for the price conscious TV's - and brands like Vivo and DSE are performing very, very well."
Although Sony is currently grappling with its first annual loss in 14 years, sales of it's more expensive televisions have risen also.
"We're actually seeing a growth in TV sales at the moment in Australia and we see that as being partly because people are cocooning their home, they're investing more in their home rather than spending their money on those one-off trips overseas," said Paul Colley, Sony Australia's Technology Communications Manager.
32-inch TV prices:
AWA - $798
Vivo - $798
Palsonic - $991
Panasonic Viera - $1,296
Samsung - $1,391
Sony Bravia W5500 - $2,099
Generic Brands AWA and Vivo are the cheapest followed by Palsonic, then it's over the thousand dollar mark. Sony Bravia are more than double the price.
The next hurdle is whether to buy Plasma or LCD.
Rodney Balech, National TV Buyer at Dick Smith : "They are two very different technologies that give you the same sort of outcome and everyone you speak to will give you a different answer. My suggestion to anyone is take a look at the screens in the stores - look at which one feels more natural to you and really you can figure it out for yourself through looking at it."
Sony stopped making Plasmas four years ago, claiming LCD's are simply better.
Paul Colley, Sony Australia's Technology Communications Manager: "In all viewing conditions whether it be a light room or a dark room the screen is very viewable and you get the best picture out of the screen. When you consider a plasma screen you generally have to have it in a darker room to get the best out of the screen and we watch a lot of TV in well lit rooms when we're having dinner when we're making dinner with the family and so on."
42 Inch Plasma TV:
AWA - $998
Vivo - N/A
Palsonic - $1,199
Panasonic Viera - $1,688
Samsung - $1,899
40 Inch LCD TV
AWA - N/A
Vivo - N/A
Palsonic - $1,699
Panasonic - N/A
Samsung Series 6 - $3,299
Sony Bravia KDL - $3,299
In the 40 Inch LCD range, the cheapest is the Palsonic, and again Samsung and Sony are double the price, but don't get caught out.
Remember to factor in the cost of running the television after you buy.
Paul Colley, Sony Australia's Technology Communications Manager: "One of the most important things is power consumption. In your typical LCD screen you use about half the power of a equivallent sized plasma and on top of that we've just released an Eco Model Bravia which reduces that by 40% again and includes nice little feature like a presence sensor so if the kids are watching TV and then they run our and go play outside and forget to turn the TV off like all kids do the TV will turn itself off so that saves even more power."
Campbell Simpson, Technical Journalist from the Good Gear Guide: "Televisions generally from large name manufacturers have newer innovations, better power-saving features and better backlighting technologies which allow televisions to consume less power over their lifetime which means a more expensive television at the start may pay itself off if you run it for five years."
So, some words to remember when you're looking for a TV.
Paul Colley, Sony Australia's Technology Communications Manager: "It's important to remember that customers generally keep their TV's for around 8 years which is often longer than we keep our car."
Campbell Simpson, Technical Journalist from the Good Gear Guide: "For the average consumer the cheaper TV will largely do the same thing as a more expensive TV."
Rodney Balech, National TV Buyer at Dick Smith: "Look, at the end of the day you are going to get a much better picture out of a better brand."
"We find the most people are spending these days is $3,000 - $4,000 for your really premium sort of bigger screens and we're finding the sweet spot is around $1,000. Most people are happy to spend around the $1,000 mark.â��