The Waiting Game

June 4, 2007

textI’ve touched on this subject before but occasionally a first hand example presents itself and reminds me just how prevalent it is among some consumers. I’m talking about the waiting game, i.e. waiting for a specific feature and or waiting for equipment with said feature to hit a certain, often arbitrary price point and using the lack of said feature or price point to validate further waiting. Here’s the rub about this tactic, it rarely pays off and in some cases it’s actually counter productive.

Before I get too deep into this, understand that I’m working on a few basic assumptions here. First we’re talking about A/V, film, and or home theater enthusiasts in general, not a first time buyer or someone who rarely (read decades not every other year) upgrades their A/V gear, short of item for item failure replacements.

The problem is that no matter how long you wait there’s always something new in the pipeline. Want to wait for an inexpensive HDMI 1.3 receiver you say? Wait long enough and you’ll likely find another feature worth waiting for, hey I wonder how far along in development HDMI 1.4 is? Please forgive the semi-snide rhetorical question, it was merely an illustration.

The purchase or lack thereof is of course entirely up to the end user and as a friend of mine humorously noted: If you can’t live in it, wear it, or eat it, it’s not a necessity. At the same time however it’s a shame to imagine someone waiting for x-y-z feature at 1-2-3 arbitrary price point when they could have otherwise been enjoying that piece of gear for years to come. I’m not trying to lecture on any one individual purchase or otherwise valid reason to hold off, but I do occasionally see consumers locked into the “must wait” mindset for no other apparent reason than worrying about what the future may bring.

Take for example a client, who recently visited our showroom, we’ll call him Bob. Bob has decade old Mitsubishi 40” direct view television, I remember these sets well. I used to plan my sick days around their installation. (Just kidding but they were back breakers) In a nutshell Bob was looking for a display upgrade for his living room, but had a shopping list of features in mind for his new display, unfortunately that shopping list was chock full of features that aren’t readily available at his desired price-point and or were just plain nonexistent. Needless to say, Bob was ready to hang it up and hold off on that new display.

It was at this point I explained to Bob some of the differences between our business model and that of some of the big-box, mass retailers. Stores like Best Buy and Circuit City move large amounts of CE gear on a daily basis, have huge advertising budgets, and benefit from leveraged wholesale costs to be able to offer their goods at their advertised prices. Contrast that with custom installation/dedicated home theater stores who literally live or die based on their word of mouth referrals and you begin to see some of the important differences.

Every one of our installations is an advertisement, or put another way, your theater is our referral system. We can’t afford (again literally) for you to be unhappy when it comes to telling your friends and family who did your theater. To this end (ensuring that we offer the best values for our clients) we’ve become quite familiar with the roadmaps of our vendors (not unlike the computer processor roadmaps from Intel) to get a feel for what’s in the pipeline for the coming months.

We’re not afraid to tell someone what’s on the horizon, (120hz refresh rates come to mind) this full disclosure is what keeps small operations like ourselves in business. Does it cost us the occasional sale? You bet but not nearly as many as a customer who felt he or she was duped into a product that was immediately outdated. Here’s a tip, if your salesmen isn’t (a) aware of what’s a few months out on the CE horizon or (b) doesn’t seem all that interested in discussing it, you may be better served taking your business elsewhere.

At the end of the day it’s all about knowing what’s available, what it’s worth, and what’s on the horizon. Contrast that with what, if any, real-world benefit you’ll gain by waiting for a new model and ascertain if that difference is really worth the cost of admission. Too complicated? Just know this, technology and in particular digital displays are always improving, the trick is striking the right balance between today’s price and performance and not getting locked into the never-ending loop of what tomorrow may bring.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater


Comments

  • gt350

    I agree, oh and just use component inputs because THAT WORKS.

  • gt350

    I agree, oh and just use component inputs because THAT WORKS.

  • B.Greenway

    Jaime, Bob is still “enjoying” his 11 year old television. Maybe I’ll see him later on this year 🙂

  • B.Greenway

    Jaime, Bob is still “enjoying” his 11 year old television. Maybe I’ll see him later on this year 🙂

  • David Lewis

    Excellent points. The only thing I would add is that many consumers waste too much time searching for the lowest price, and not enough time searching for the right product or the right dealer. Selecting a product because you just read the latest hot review is a big mistake. Spending hours on line trying to find a low price, then trying to get a local installer to match that price, only creates ill-will and guarantees a bad outcome.

    As they say in NY, “Pay the $2” and find a reputable dealer that will sell you what you really need.

  • David Lewis

    Excellent points. The only thing I would add is that many consumers waste too much time searching for the lowest price, and not enough time searching for the right product or the right dealer. Selecting a product because you just read the latest hot review is a big mistake. Spending hours on line trying to find a low price, then trying to get a local installer to match that price, only creates ill-will and guarantees a bad outcome.

    As they say in NY, “Pay the $2” and find a reputable dealer that will sell you what you really need.

  • Adam Griffith

    Ah, yes – the waiting game, a dance I’ve done all too often – along with also then later going through exaggerated cases of unjustifiable buyer’s remorse. It must all be part of that nagging aspect of human nature which suggests “the grass is always greener…”

    That and being a videophile who hates to be behind the curve and not *potentially* be able to eek out every little extra bit of picture quality from my beloved movie content.

    I bought a top 40-inch Samsung LCD last summer shortly after Samsung had released their new line that very season. The build of the set and the visual punch of the picture still seem to be among the very best out there. Yet it’s 1366 x 768p. And of course, although I’m sure that I can probably see no discernible difference in the picture from where I sit OR may even see a worse level of picture if I recklessly switch to an inferior brand just for 1080p – I still start twitching whenever I read an article that seems to convincingly justify 1080p on certain content.

    But then if I did upgrade for 1080p now – it won’t be long before these upcoming sets that boast 10,000 and 20,000 contrast ratios are lowering they’re prices and looking like the best thing on Earth.

    Makes me just want to buy an “old”, heavy, and “un-modern” but high-quality CRT (like the Sony XBR970) and then call it a day. That will at least relieve my resolution and contrast ratio woes (especially for SD DVD), right? Or will it?

    What do you, you all, think? Is there some new tech. worth waiting for, is something like a Sony CRT a possible solution, or should we just chill and be happy with what we have?

  • Adam Griffith

    Ah, yes – the waiting game, a dance I’ve done all too often – along with also then later going through exaggerated cases of unjustifiable buyer’s remorse. It must all be part of that nagging aspect of human nature which suggests “the grass is always greener…”

    That and being a videophile who hates to be behind the curve and not *potentially* be able to eek out every little extra bit of picture quality from my beloved movie content.

    I bought a top 40-inch Samsung LCD last summer shortly after Samsung had released their new line that very season. The build of the set and the visual punch of the picture still seem to be among the very best out there. Yet it’s 1366 x 768p. And of course, although I’m sure that I can probably see no discernible difference in the picture from where I sit OR may even see a worse level of picture if I recklessly switch to an inferior brand just for 1080p – I still start twitching whenever I read an article that seems to convincingly justify 1080p on certain content.

    But then if I did upgrade for 1080p now – it won’t be long before these upcoming sets that boast 10,000 and 20,000 contrast ratios are lowering they’re prices and looking like the best thing on Earth.

    Makes me just want to buy an “old”, heavy, and “un-modern” but high-quality CRT (like the Sony XBR970) and then call it a day. That will at least relieve my resolution and contrast ratio woes (especially for SD DVD), right? Or will it?

    What do you, you all, think? Is there some new tech. worth waiting for, is something like a Sony CRT a possible solution, or should we just chill and be happy with what we have?

  • jaime

    did bob buy the tv or not?

  • jaime

    did bob buy the tv or not?

  • Bjarkovic

    I agree with you in principle. I did this myself. However, we are talking about a pretty new piece of technology when it comes to HDTVs and I think that waiting for a certain set of options isn’t a silly idea. I waited until I knew I’d get a 1080p set that would perform well, and I’m glad I did. I’d by eating my arms off now if I’d settled for a 720p set.

    That said, I believe that we’ve reached a pretty good point when it comes to these things and that I could pretty much be able to tell a person what he or she needs and why, and whether an option they’re holding out for is really worth the wait.

  • Bjarkovic

    I agree with you in principle. I did this myself. However, we are talking about a pretty new piece of technology when it comes to HDTVs and I think that waiting for a certain set of options isn’t a silly idea. I waited until I knew I’d get a 1080p set that would perform well, and I’m glad I did. I’d by eating my arms off now if I’d settled for a 720p set.

    That said, I believe that we’ve reached a pretty good point when it comes to these things and that I could pretty much be able to tell a person what he or she needs and why, and whether an option they’re holding out for is really worth the wait.