6 Things We Learned in Retail Stores This Week about UHD

by Charles Hall

Most people would agree that what salespeople say about their products has to be taken with a grain of salt but that there are grains of truth in what they say.

This week, we visited two major electronics retail stores and talked to their sales reps about UHD TVs. Here’s a collection of what they said:

  1. Both sales reps rated the picture quality of the UHD sets in the same order:
  2. Videos on Blu-ray discs look fantastic on UHD sets — an immediately noticeable difference. Anyone that has a sizeable quantity of Blu-ray discs should rush out and immediately buy a UHD TV. We totally agree with this point after having watched a number of Blu-ray discs on a Samsung UHD set. Watching a Blu-ray disc doesn’t impact broadband and home networking performance in the way that watching an OTT-delivered UHD video does but it should encourage consumers to buy UHD sets. Unfortunately, one of the sales reps did not know this and neither store was showing Blu-ray on a UHD set.
  3. Not only were the stores not showing how beautiful Blu-ray is on UHD set, neither was showing content from the locally available pay TV services. They were only showing made-for-UHD content, mainly movies and videos that were shot for demonstrating how picture perfect UHD is. All brand name UHD TVs upscale (also called upconversion) the 720p and 1080p signals that pay TV services offer.
  4. Both sales reps prefer the Samsung UHD set to the Sony or LG. Both liked the Samsung’s brighter picture over the Sony’s deeper colors. One said many consumers that see both prefer the Sony, so it’s a matter of taste. One store had two of the same Sony models side-by-side and the rep said a Sony person had tuned them so was one was brighter like the Samsung, and the other looked like Sony’s traditional out-of-the box picture.
  5. Price wise, when comparing Samsung and LG, the Samsung was $100 less in every case than the LG that was the same size.
  6. One sales rep said it would be three or four years before Vizio had a UHD set, a claim that’s hard to believe in light of Vizio’s statements at CES and since. He said Vizio did not develop technology but went to China and purchased cheaper imitation components.

Best Buy has upgraded one of its stores so it has a Magnolia center where it shows high-end video and audio gear. The entry-level Samsung UHD sets were not in the Magnolia center or even in the store’s main TV display area. They were in a different part of the store.




The question is whether Best Buy is throwing good money after bad when upgrading its stores because of consumers’ increasing proclivities to buy online — even including pricey high-end CE gear. Best Buy stores are pricey to own, always in high-end retail space and with loads of inventory, and pricey to operate with a high percentage of sales reps per shopper. On one hand, you can’t visit an Amazon store to see how good a UHD TV looks. On the other hand, once a friend or a neighbor gets a UHD set, you might not need to visit a brick and mortar store to be convinced to buy one.

After we told the Best Buy cashier that the price of an unmarked collection of 23 James Bond flicks on Blu-ray — from “Dr No” to “Skyfall” — was a bit much, she voluntarily checked the bar code that’s on the box at several online sites including Amazon and reduced the price by over $50. Having to match prices offered by online retailers while at the same time owning and operating expensive retail stores is a tough challenge for top management.

The idea that UHD sets won’t sell in large quantities until large quantities of UHD content is available is a fallacy.

Retail stores have not set up their demonstration areas for UHD sets properly. None show what

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