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Should you have your HDTV professionally installed?

Integrating your television into a home theater may require special expertise.  See more HDTV pictures.
© iStockphoto.com/Terraxplorer

Purchasing a new HDTV is a big investment and it takes some preparation, too. There are a lot of factors to consider. What size television would best suit the room? Should you get a flat-panel TV? Do you want a plasma television, LCD TV, projection screen or some other HDTV technology? And once you've come up with the answers and actually made the purchase of your new television there's one more thing to think about: Who's going to install it?

There are plenty of companies and contractors who will be happy to install your new television -- for a price. Home theater installation services are a big business. We've come a long way from the days when setting up a television meant plugging it in and playing with the rabbit ears antenna to pick up the local stations. With an elaborate home theater system, you may have to run cables through a wall, tweak a sophisticated sound system and calibrate your television's image quality.

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Determining if you should hire a professional to install your theater system depends on the complexity of the job and your confidence in your own skills. You probably won't need help physically installing it if your television is going to sit on a stand or in an entertainment center, or if it has a built-in base. But if you plan to mount a flat panel television on a wall you may want to consider hiring an expert.

Even if you're confident that you can mount the television to the wall on your own, you should consider the cables. Will you want the cables to be hidden? A wall-mounted television with two or three cables dangling from it isn't very attractive. But to hide the cables would require either running them through the wall or investing in flat-wire technology. In either case, the job just got a bit more complicated.

Assuming you've got a complex job ahead of you, what should you look for when hiring a professional?

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Before you randomly pick an installation expert from the phone book, you should take some time to think about what you'll need. You'll want to be sure that the professional will be able to handle the entire process. If the job calls for an electrician or any kind of construction, verify that the contractor or company is licensed and certified. It's also a good idea to search for any customer reviews before you hire someone.

It's always a good idea to get an estimate before you hire someone to help you out. Shop around -- don't be tempted to agree to the first offer you hear. You want to balance value with quality. Do some research on the company or contractor. Ask about guarantees and warranties. Make certain they're insured.

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This might sound like a lot of work just to have your television up and running, but consider the risks of a poorly executed installation. Not only could you break your new, expensive television, but also you could damage your home in the process. It may be better to invest in professional installation than risk expensive repairs. And if the job requires any electrical work you have the added risk of injury or even electrocution.

Not everyone needs to consider professional installation. If your entertainment setup isn't complex and you know how to hook your various components to your television, you're probably fine on your own. You can enjoy high-definition programming within an hour of bringing your new television home. But if you're set on creating the ultimate home theater experience, hiring an expert might be your best bet.

Learn more about HDTV technology by following the links on the next page.

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More Great Links

Sources

  • HD Installers. "Frequently Asked Questions for LCD Installation or Plasma TV Installation." (Aug. 12, 2009) http://hdinstallers.com/faq.htm
  • Home Tech Answers. "Plasma Television Installation - Plasma Television Set Up Cost." (Aug. 11, 2009) http://www.hometechanswers.com/hdtv/plasma-television-set-up-cost.html
  • KARE 11. "So, you're gonna buy an HDTV set…" (Aug. 12, 2009) http://www.kare11.com/life/programming/hdtv/hdtv_article.aspx?storyid=270550&catid=294
  • RepairHome. "HDTV Installation." (Aug. 12, 2009) http://www.repair-home.com/HDTV_Installation.html
  • Virtual Link Technologies, Inc. "Installation Center FAQ." (Aug. 11, 2009) http://www.installplasma.com/FAQ.html

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