Posts by Jeff Clemens

New Website

Introducing our brand new website! The entire site was designed around improving the customer experience. Please let us know what you think by commenting at the bottom of the page.

Here are some of the highlights of the new site:

Conforms to Any Size Screen

The new site features responsive design, which conforms the website on the fly to any screen size without losing functionality of the full site. It’s a different take on the mobile website concept. With a mobile website, the full website recognizes you’re accessing it from a mobile device and redirects you to a version of the website they’ve built for mobile browsers. The mobile site mirrors the main site, but is often watered down and lacks certain functionality to make it simpler on the smaller device. With responsive design, you never leave the full site; the full site merely conforms its layout and functionality to your screen. Nothing is lost.

Responsive design also allows for more variation. Take Apple for example: Between iPhone and iPad you have 10 different screen layouts possible when you consider all the models and portrait and landscape configurations. Where do you draw the line? Who gets the full site and who gets the mobile site? Intermediate sizes like iPad Mini or one of the new, larger-screened iPhone 6 or 6 Plus get stuck in between. Responsive design accommodates for these variations resulting in a better experience on any device.

Delivery Tracker

We’ve used smart GPS technology to track our drivers in real-time years but have never made it available to you. Shame on us! Now you can track your delivery from the time it leaves Grand to the time it arrives at your house. Simply click Track Your Delivery in the upper right of the page. You can begin tracking your order the day before delivery. In the early evening, usually around 5PM, you’ll be able to log on and check your time window for the following day’s delivery. On the day of delivery, you can track your truck’s progress as it nears your stop. Need to run a quick errand, you’ve got instant access to your truck and can gauge your opportunity accordingly.

Enhanced Product Listings

We’ve beefed up our product listings to include more content and a better layout. From improved photos, descriptions and specs to more content like spec sheets, manuals, guides and even videos, we set forth to design a site that provided industry leading information in a visually pleasing way.

Enhanced Searching

We worked hard to make sure it was easy to find what you wanted regardless of how you searched. The search box features smart functionality for mid-search suggestions and partial model numbers. When you shop by category you’ll find a simple layout with easy to navigate drop-down options. Shop by brand or even shop for items that are on sale or discontinued by clicking Deals or Outlet. Once you get into our search, you’ll find a greatly improved catalog layout complete with a full array of filters and options for narrowing your search to find the right item for you.

Grand Debuts LG Appliances, Interactive Training Center

This was a big week for Grand Appliance and TV. We simultaneously unveiled our new interactive training center and introduced a new brand, LG Appliances, to the entire sales staff.

Grand Training Center

Grand is truly putting its money where its mouth is with a brand new, state-of-the art training center at its corporate headquarters in Zion. We regularly claim to have the best sales, delivery, installation and customer service personnel in the industry and training is a HUGE part of that.

Entry to Training Center

Entry to Training Center

The new training center gives us a place to conduct centralized training for all of our employees in both classroom and hands-on formats. For classroom learning, we have enough space for 20-25 students seated at tables in the room. For audio visual aides, we’ve installed a 110″ projection screen, 1080p HD projector and premium surround sound system with in-ceiling speakers and two in-wall subwoofers. Both the projector and the screen recess up into the ceiling when not in use for a cleaner look.

Training Room AV

Training Room AV

Our expert custom AV team installed all the gear along with a sophisticated control system that drops the screen, drops the projector, dims the lights and sets all the inputs with just one click on the remote. The control system is a Universal Remote Control Total Control solution, which can control just about everything in your home or office from a remote control, smartphone or tablet.

For hands-on training, we have a fully functional appliance suite complete with a washer, dryer, under-counter beverage fridge, range, over-the-range-microwave, dishwasher, under-counter ice-maker and counter-depth refrigerator with ice and water dispenser. Everything is fully installed and live so salespeople can see and test the appliances themselves. We also have additional live hookups so our delivery and install teams can learn all proper techniques for delivering and installing the products we sell.

Live Kitchen

Live Kitchen

Introducing LG Apliances!

When our customers speak, we listen. We started hearing more and more customers ask for LG appliances so we decided to do our homework.

We don’t take adding a new brand lightly. Our business is based on building lifetime relationships with customers through competitive pricing and superior customer service. As such, we look for brands with a strong reputation, high-value product mix and a commitment to customer satisfaction. We found LG to be perfect fit and are proud to add them to our floor.

Grand will carry the full LG line including refrigerators, ranges, microwaves, washers, dryers and dishwashers. Product has begun rolling out to Grand stores and our salespeople have had plenty of hands-on experience and training with LG’s factory trainers in the sales center. Click here to see our selection in person at a store near you.

LG Sales Training in Action

LG Sales Training in Action

Here are just a few innovative LG appliances you’ll see on the floor at Grand.

LFX31945ST: 31 cubic foot French door fridge with door with Door-In-Door technology

How many times have you watched your kids open the refrigerator door and stand there gazing wide-eyed as cold air escapes? Wouldn’t it be great to give them easy access to all the things they consume most like milk, drinks, condiments and even small snacks like string cheese, yogurt, etc? Well look no further than LG’s LFX31945ST 31 cubic foot fridge with exclusive Door-In-Door technology. Available on select French door models, Door-In-Door technology allows you to access common items easily without fully opening the fridge.

See the pictures below. The top right side door is where all the magic happens. Pull the handle and the door opens like any other French door fridge. But push a little button hidden on the handle and you’ll open an outside door that reveals just the contents of the door bins. The doors bins are semi-enclosed to maintain temperature in refrigerator when the outer door is opened.

WT1101CW With Lid Open

WT1101CW With Lid Open

 

WT1101CW: 4.3 cubic foot HE top-load washer with front-mounted controls and Smart Diagnostics

 

Want a top-load washer but have trouble reaching or reading the controls on the back panel? Check out LG’s WT1101CW with industry-exclusive front-mounted controls. Everything is right up front in a simple, intuitive user interface that will simplify your laundry experience. If that’s not enough, WT1100CW also features rock solid direct drive motor protected by LG’s limited 10-year warranty and SmartDiagnosis, a web-enabled feature that helps you or a service center diagnose problems with your unit without a tech ever setting foot in your home.

LMH2016ST: 2.0 cubic foot over the range microwave with ExtendaVent technology

tc otr slide2

Profile View of LMH2016ST with ExtendaVent

Over-the-range microwaves with built-in ventilation are nothing new, but the concept has always been more about saving counter-top space than providing quality ventilation. Look at your microwave and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Chances are it only covers the two back burners of your range. The more frequently used front burners are exposed. Unless the smoke, steam and grease created by those burners makes a U-turn and exits through the vent, its going to rise freely and most likely end up on the face of your microwave, cabinet fronts and ceiling. Not so with ExtenaVent technology featured on select models like LG’s LMH2016ST. It features a slide-out vent for coverage of your entire range-top, not just the back burners.

New at Grand: Small Appliances, Expanded Vacuum Offering

We’re proud to announce the Grand store nearest you will soon feature a full display of small appliances and a larger display of vacuum cleaners. Displays are currently under construction and everything is in stock. Here’s our first installation in the Zion location.

2013 small appliance display

Small Appliance Offering

We’ve had small appliances for sale on our website for several months now, but this marks the first time we’ve displayed blenders, toasters, mixers, coffee makers and more in our stores for take-with sales. The in-store assortment is a mix of our most popular models from KitchenAid and Frigidiaire Professional.

Expanded Vacuum Offering

Our vacuum offering has been limited thus far to Miele’s line of high performance vacuums. While Miele makes a great vacuum, perhaps the best in the business, they’re not for everyone. So we’ve expanded our offering to include Dyson, Electrolux and Eureka as well. Now we have a vacuum cleaner solution for every application and every budget.

Sonos Introduces $199 PLAY1 Speaker

Sonos introduced its new PLAY1 speaker this week. At a retail price of $199, the PLAY1 is a welcome addition to Sonos complete line of multi-room audio products and is bound to be one of the hottest products at Grand this holiday season. The compact PLAY1 measures just 4.7″ wide by 6.4″ high allowing it to fit just about anywhere. But don’t let the compact footprint fool you. PLAY1 is outfitted with two Class D amplifiers to power its built-in woofer and tweeter and produce sound quality you’d expect from a much larger speaker. Of course PLAY1 also features all the streaming music capability you’ve come to know and love from Sonos. Not familiar with Sonos? Check out this video for a complete overview: Sonos Intro Video.

The versatile PLAY1 speaker is more than just a compact HiFi powerhouse. You can wirelessly pair two PLAY1s for true stereo output capable of filling larger spaces. If that’s not enough, add Sonos’ high performance SUB to your PLAY1 pair for a wireless 2.1 solution that rivals bulky component based systems at significantly higher prices. If home theater is your thing, add a pair of PLAY1s to Sonos PLAYBAR soundbar home theater system for a wireless surround sound solution for your TV viewing. Speaking of PLAYBAR, the popular home theater system recently received a #1 rating from Consumer Reports in the soundbar home theater category.

PLAY1 will be hitting Grand stores on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. In the meantime, check out the product images below or this video to see the PLAY1 for yourself.

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Samsung Washers Rank #1…Again

Samsung was once again ranked the highest in customer satisfaction by JD Power. This marks the fifth consecutive year Samsung has received the industry’s top ranks in JD Power’s annual study. The study cited performance, reliability, ease of use and price as factors in the decision. Samsung dryers also scored very well in the study earning Samsung a #2 ranking in the category.

“Our goal is to create premium smart appliances that deliver the right mix of flexibility, performance and design that consumers love and want for their home. Receiving such high rankings in this year’s J.D. Power Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study demonstrates that Samsung understands what families look for in their home appliances,” said Kevin Dexter, Senior Vice President of Home Appliance at Samsung Electronics America. “The continued recognition from J.D. Power and the ongoing support from our consumers is an absolute privilege; it pushes us to continue to deliver the technologies and features consumers want and need.”

Samsung's WA50F9A6DSW washer

Samsung’s WA50F9A6DSW washer

Samsung’s commitment to technological innovation has made it one of the most popular laundry brands in America despite being a relative newcomer in the market. Take high-efficiency (HE) top-loaders for example. Samsung’s brand new HE top-load model WA50F9A6DSW features an industry leading 5.0 cubic foot wash capacity allowing consumers to wash larger loads than ever before. While capacity is great, the main purpose of a washing machine is to clean your clothes. A big tub in an HE top-loader makes it difficult to achieve a thorough clean because unlike a traditional top-loader, HE top-loaders use very little water and do not feature an agitator. As a result, it can often be difficult to evenly distribute the sudsy water throughout the load and move the clothing in the wash tub enough to open up the fabrics for a deep clean. To overcome this, Samsung developed AquaJet Technology. AquaJet uses powerful jets to thoroughly wash and rinse even the largest loads. Best of all, it features different settings to allow you to utilize AquaJet for a variety of loads including everything from your gym clothes to your most delicate items. Click here to see AquaJet in action.

Samsung’s innovative technology also leads to enhanced energy efficiency. The EPA’s ENERGY STAR program recently awarded Samsung’s DV457 dryer with the Emerging Technology Award for its class leading energy efficiency. This is the first time the award has been given to a clothes dryer. The Smart Grid-ready DV457 dryer uses up to 36% less energy than a typical dryer. When paired with the matching WF457 washer (also Smart Grid-ready), Samsung claims the pair can save an average consumer $3,978 in energy costs over the life of the pair. That’s a pretty significant savings, especially when you consider the pair retails for right around $3,000.

Samsung's 457 front-load laundry pair in Onyx

Samsung’s 457 front-load laundry pair in Onyx (shown with optional pedestals)

 

Grand Has iPads!

Well, sort of. We’re not selling iPads, but we have them. Just about every one of us. That means when you walk into a Grand Appliance and TV location, your salesperson will not only be armed with the expertise and consultative selling approach you’ve come to expect from Grand, but also an iPad – and a world of information, interesting content and other tools to aid in your buying decision.

When did this happen?

Its been in the works for a while, but everyone got their new toys last night (June 6, 2013). We closed down the entire operation and gathered the entire sales force, management team and key operations personnel together for a company event to kick off the program. In total, 67 iPads were distributed to Grand employees across the organization.

The iPads were distributed last night (6/6/2013) at an all staff meeting to kick off Grand's iPad initiative.

Our stack of 67 iPads at the event to kick off our iPad Program (June 6, 2013)

Why are we doing this?

Simply put, we want to improve your experience at Grand and get better at what we do. iPads give us a valuable tool for both. Here’s a few ways we plan to use the iPads to enhance your in-store experience.

Competitive Price Checks

We can be more than competitive with the big box stores and we’re eager to prove it. Each salesperson’s iPad has been pre-configured with a smart price scanning app tailored for appliances, TVs and bedding. It grabs real time pricing from our local competition, even our larger regional competitors.

You may be wondering why we’re so eager to potentially lose profits by showing you what everyone else is doing. Well, that’s simple. We’re confident you’ve always gotten the best deal when you’ve shopped at Grand. We just never went out of our way to prove it. Now we are.

So, come on in, shop our vast selection, take advantage of our product expertise and know for a fact you’re getting the very best price – every time.

Quick Access to Specs and Product Information

We take a lot of pride in knowing the products we sell inside and out, but there are times when we need to double-check something to be sure we’re giving you the right information. Running back and forth to the computer to verify product information can really slow down a sale. Plus, starting and stopping can creates a pretty disjointed buying experience. With an iPad, we can answer any question you have about a product without stepping away. In addition, we can use dedicated apps from the brands we represent to take you on an interactive walk through each brand’s product offering.

Video Demonstrations

Most of the brands we represent have a wealth of content on video services like YouTube. In the past, if we thought one of these videos would help you understand a feature or product better, we had to walk away from the product and saddle up at one of our computers in the office area to access the video. Now, just like with the specs and information above, we can instantly access that video without leaving the product.

Smart Product Demonstrations

Many of the electronics products we sell can access web-enabled content and feature some degree of control via smartphone or tablet. Appliances and even bedding brands are following suit. Its one thing to talk about it, but we want to show you. Take Sonos multi-room audio products as an example. Sonos makes it ultra-simple to play your iTunes, favorite radio station, Pandora feeds and more in any room of your house thanks to their intuitive, user-friendly app for smart devices. I could spend the next 5,000 words talking about the what makes the app so special and I wouldn’t even touch the impact you’d get from a simple two minute hands-on demo.

Sonos App for iPad

Sonos App for iPad

In addition, let me be clear, all smart control apps are NOT created equal. Some load faster than others, are more intuitive than others, more capable than others, etc. If smart features are a key factor in your buying decision, the last thing we want is for you to be surprised when your so-called smart device isn’t quite as smart as you had hoped. We’d prefer you compare the products with smart features in the store to increase the chance that you’ll actually use and enjoy the features.

Email Integration

In retail, we work odd schedules. In fact, it’s not uncommon for our salespeople to work Saturday and Sunday and then have two days off during the week. This can make getting in touch with your salesperson difficult if you catch them on the wrong day. No longer the case. Each salesperson’s Grand email account has been integrated into their iPad. Our salespeople are true professionals and as such they requested the ability to stay connected to their customers – even when they’re away from the office. This small feature alone will allow us to provide faster responses to your urgent matters.

 

Conclusion

These are just a few of the ways we plan to integrate iPads into our business at the store level. There are many more ways we’ll use these devices and their roll in our operation will only expand as technology improves. We hope this program is a signal to you, our customers, that Grand is committed to doing whatever we can to stay provide you with the absolute best shopping experience.

 

New Bosch Dishwashers Have Arrived At Grand

The new Bosch dishwashers have arrived at Grand. There are some pretty cool features with the new line that separate it from other brands.

I could talk about superior quality claims, but that’s old news with Bosch. Every year the brand is a fixture atop quality rankings from leading consumer publications. In fact, Bosch dishwashers recently received #1 ratings from trusted sources like JD Power, Energy Star and Consumer Reports.

Same thing when it comes to quiet. Bosch has been universally regarded as one of the quietest dishwasher brands for more than a decade. So, while its impressive that the new line was rated as the quietest brand in America with models reaching decibel ratings of 38dBA, I simply chalk that up to more of the same from Bosch.

For me, the buzz around the new line is all about innovative design changes that enhance the flexibility of the line. The design changes affect both form and function as described in the sections below.

NOTE: If you’re interested in learning more about what makes Bosch an industry leader for quality, quiet operation, click here.

Form: New Door Front Options

The line features four dishwasher door front options as shown below.

13-Bosch dw launch handles2

  • Recessed Handle: The only door style with visible controls. The control panel is angled upward for easier control from a standing position. MSRPs starting at $649.
  • Flush Handle: Hidden controls door style with inset handle. The stainless version features a fully wrapped stainless steel door eliminating the black trim on most competitive models. Great option for hidden controls without a protruding handle. MSRPs starting at $799 MSRP
  • Bar Handle: Essentially a continuation of the handle style used throughout Bosch’s line of kitchen appliances, but also adds the unique, fully-wrapped stainless steel door featured on the flush handle door style above. MSRPs starting at $649.
  • Custom Panel: Like the bar handle design, the custom panel design is a continuation of previous custom panel models. MSRPs start at $849 plus the cost of a custom panel from your cabinet provider.

13-Bosch dw launch flush door-control lookWith these four options, Bosch is confident you’ll find a model to match your kitchen aesthetic – even if you’re replacing your dishwasher and the other appliances in your kitchen aren’t from Bosch. See the dishwasher shown to the right. This is an example of a flush handle door front. As you can see, there is no visible logo or Bosch branding anywhere on the front of the dishwasher. Instead, the logo is hidden with the dishwasher controls on the top of the door panel. The same is true of the bar handle option and custom panel door options. In other words, three of the four door options have absolutely no visible brand identification on the door of the dishwasher allowing for easy integration into a kitchen full of non-Bosch appliances.

What about custom kitchen installations? Can any of these be installed completely flush with standard-depth cabinetry? Absolutely. Each of the new dishwasher models, even the custom panel models, can be installed with the door front completely flush to your standard-depth cabinetry. Many other brands don’t even have a single dishwasher model capable of flush installation let alone the full line. When it comes to custom panel dishwashers, your flush mount options are even thinner. Bosch makes it easy to get the flush install you want. Simply pick the door style you like and rest assured it will fit seamlessly in your existing cabinetry. I know what you’re thinking, “Slimmer footprint? Must mean smaller capacity.” Not so. Bosch’s renowned team of engineers figured out how to reduce the overall depth while also increasing capacity!

The four door front options – including the non-branded options – and flush installation may seem like a small things, but a clean, unified look throughout the kitchen is very important to most of our customers. The appliances in the kitchen play a pivotal role in achieving this unified look – particularly if they’re heavily branded or have a unique handle or other exterior characteristic. Bosch’s door design changes ensure you can replace your existing dishwasher without worrying about it matching another appliance in your kitchen. Plus, if you choose a non-branded option you can enjoy all the benefits of owning a premium Bosch dishwasher with one less logo staring you in the face everyday.

Function: New and Improved Third Rack

The third rack concept itself is nothing new. In fact, many Bosch competitors have a three-rack solution of some sort included in their more premium models. If you’ve never seen a three-rack dishwasher or are unfamiliar with the feature, here’s a quick overview. The third rack is a shallow rack located at the top of the dishwasher tub originally developed to provide a better solution than the traditional silverware basket for cleaning silverware, cutlery, long spoons, spatulas, etc. You may never really think about your silverware basket, but there’s a couple key problems with your traditional silverware basket. First, it takes up valuable real estate on the bottom rack. Second, and more importantly, most baskets don’t allow for very thorough cleaning – particularly when the silverware has been haphazardly jammed into the compact slots in the basket. Plus, have you ever tried to put a large knife, spoon or other utensil in the basket? Doesn’t work so well in most dishwashers. In my house, these items are typically wedged into random openings on the other racks or – more likely – washed by hand.

13-bosch dw launch 3rd rack comparison

So what’s different about Bosch’s third rack? Take a look at the picture on the left for a comparison. For starters, notice the the third rack in Bosch’s new dishwasher is V-shaped while the “Other Guys'” rack is flat. This allows Bosch to not only accommodate silverware and low profile items like cooking spoons or larger cutlery but also oddly shaped items like whisks, tongs, ramekins, and even shallow bowls. The V-shape is key because it gives additional height in the center of the third rack – a spot that will likely have minimal impact on loading capacity of the rack beneath.

For added flexibility, the sides of the V on Bosch’s third rack can be lowered to the level of the center portion to accommodate several oddly shaped items. They lower independently allowing for one or both sides to be lowered for added space. Obviously adding space above reduces space below. That’s why all models with the third rack also feature a middle rack with Bosch’s RackMatic technology, a feature that allows you to easily raise or lower the middle rack based on your loading demands.

The adjustable V-shape combined with RackMatic technology increases the likelihood that you’ll actually use the functionality of the third rack. There’s no question that individually loading each piece of silverware into the third rack is far more cumbersome than simply tossing the soiled silverware into the traditional basket. That’s a key reason that most dishwasher manufacturers – Bosch included – still ship a traditional basket with their three-rack models. Many customers would just rather use the basket – or at least have the option to do so. With the V-shaped third rack and RackMatic technology, you have the option of using the third rack for silverware only to maximize your space elsewhere, loading silverware in the basket to maintain total flexibility in the top two racks or some combination of the two.

Conclusion

When you combine the flexibility created by Bosch’s innovative design changes with its continued superiority in high-quality, quiet operation, you’ve got a line of dishwashers few competitors can match. Click here to view our full Bosch dishwasher offering online. If you’d like to see the new models in person and talk through your options with one of our factory trained sales professionals, click here to find the store nearest you.

What You Should Know Before Buying a 2013 TV

2013 TV models from LG, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba have started trickling into our warehouse and out to our stores. I’m sure they’re hitting other retailers as we speak as well. I hope you’ll stop into one of our stores soon to check out the latest in TV technology, but regardless of where you shop, here are six things you should know before you hit the store.

Full disclosure, the list below does feature a collection of facts and my opinions. The opinions are based on my personal preferences and experience as Grand’s audio-video sales manager since 2004.

1. Shop for Features, Not Sizes.

I counted, and at the time of this printing LG had almost 50 TV models available for us to display and sell. Samsung has even more. There’s no way we can display absolutely everything from every brand we represent – and we’re not alone. Almost every other retailer is in the same boat, even the big guys. Instead, we’ll show as many series of TVs from each manufacturer as we can. A series is a collection of different sized TVs from a brand that share similar features. This allows us to show a wider variety with less actual units on display. Finding the series with the right features allows you to compare your “apples-to-apples” options across all brands.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a 55″ TV with 1080p resolution and smart TV functionality. Find the TVs on display that are 1080p and smart rather than finding the 55″ TVs. As a side note, at Grand, we’ll often have popular sizes like 55″ in stock for all the series represented on our floor even if they’re not displayed on the floor in that particular size.

2. RIP Traditional LCD

That’s right, we already have an obsolete flat panel TV technology. Traditional fluorescent lit LCD panels – commonly referred to simply as LCD TVs – are a thing of the past as none will be available from any of the major manufacturers in 2013. When I heard florescent LCD was gone, I reflected fondly on my first buy as the audio-video buyer here at Grand. It was a shipment of Sharp Aquos 30″ 720p LCD TVs and as I recall, we got such a great deal from Sharp we could sell them at a blistering retail or $2,995 – $500 less than any of our competitors. To put that in the proper perspective, we now sell 39″ 1080p LED TVs starting at $399 and most 60″ LED TVs start at retails of less than that.

Of course, LCD screens will still be used in all 2013 LED TV models.

3. Buying an LED? Up the Hz.

Your TV works like a flip book – it displays a number of still images (called frames) in rapid succession to create the illusion of motion on your screen. Hz refers to the number of frames shown each second. Standard 60Hz LEDs display 60 frames each second; upgraded 120Hz or 240Hz rates double or quadruple that number. The advanced Hz rates were developed to overcome a natural limitation of all LED TVs. The liquid screen in an LED TV takes a moment to respond to motion on the screen. In 60Hz TVs, this creates a shadow or ghosting effect visible to most viewers – particularly with larger screen sizes. Increasing the rate of frames per second reduces or eliminates this issue producing smoother motion on the screen.

60Hz vs. 120Hz

60Hz vs. 120Hz

You may be told 120Hz is only needed for viewing fast motion content like sports, movies or video games. However, I argue 120Hz is a must for any TV viewing. Think about the news, for example. Not exactly what you’d consider rapid motion viewing, but definitely what I would consider 120Hz material. Newscasts consist of a heavy dose of close-up views of people’s faces and upper body. You pick up a lot detail viewing in HD and following the motion while maintaining the integrity of the high-detail image can be very difficult for a 60Hz TV – even though the motion is typically slow and deliberate. No one wants to watch a newscaster whose face is a mess of blur every time he or she speaks a word, furrows a brow, etc. Plus, many stations feature a ticker at the bottom of the screen scrolling the day’s breaking news. All that text streaming by is a lot easier to read when you up the refresh rate.

4. Don’t Forget About Plasma

Samsung's 8500-Series Plasma

Samsung’s 8500-Series Plasma

LED is a great technology. It’s the most efficient, slimmest, lightest, brightest and longest lasting technology on the market (apologies to the OLED crowd, it’s not exactly ON the market right now). That said, plasma represents a tremendous value as even ultra premium sets are consistently priced beneath comparably featured LED models.

In addition, pure picture nerds (like me) will always argue plasma has the better picture. To understand why, you have to know a bit about how plasma and LED TVs work. The screen on a plasma TV is made up of millions of pockets filled with plasma gas. The pockets can either be turned on to create colors or turned off to create a deep black. In addition, the plasma gas within each pocket can react instantaneously to changes in the image.

On the contrary, LED screens are made up of a liquid screen that produces an image and an LED light that produces the brightness. The light source is usually on the side of the TV shining inward and is always on.

So why is this all important? Here are the top three reasons:

  • Motion Response: In Tip #2 I discussed 60Hz LEDs vs upgraded 120Hz and 240Hz LEDs. Plasma doesn’t differentiate or need different determinants for fast motion. Its all super fast because the plasma pockets can react instantaneously to motion on the screen for a smoother image than any LED.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are the basis on which you build a quality picture. If a TV can do deep black, bright white and everywhere in between it can create a vibrant, clear image regardless of what’s on TV. Plus, deep blacks create wider contrast between dark and light so vibrant colors literally pop off the screen. Plasma blacks are better because the pockets can be turned on or off depending on what’s on the screen. You want color, pocket is on. You want black, pocket is off. In an LED, the light source is always on so the TV must mask it in darker areas to create a black, dark gray, etc. In many LEDs, this results in outputs often look more gray or deep purple than black. The best LEDs available can create pretty good black levels, but most still have trouble maintaining the consistency of the black across the panel resulting in “hot spots” of diminished blacks.
  • True Color: In the beginning of this section, Tip #3, I mentioned LED is the brightest technology available. LED manufacturers exploit this to overcome objections about inferior black levels. Unfortunately, amping up the brightness in the TV often results diminished color quality. Want to see for yourself, ask the salesperson at your store of choice to put on a sporting event played on a grass field and compare LED vs plasma. I’m pretty confident you’ll see the LED produce more of a neon green while the plasma produces a green more like what you remember – albeit not as bright as the LED.

In fact, in this humble reviewer’s opinion, unless you have $19,999 for LG’s 84″ Ultra LED model 84LM9600, which boasts resolutions four time that of 1080p, Samsung’s much lauded 8500-series plasma TV is the best TV you can buy. It features Samsung’s Super Contrast Panel, which delivers unprecedented brightness, the deepest black levels and precise colors and clarity.

I should note that plasma isn’t the solution for everyone. In general, if you watch daytime TV and your TV faces direct sunlight or you watch more than six hours of TV each day, I’d recommend considering LED. If not, don’t shut the door on plasma.

5. All Smart TVs Are NOT Created Equal

Samsung 2013 Smart TV Interface

Samsung 2013 Smart TV Interface

Smart TV is the biggest buzz word on our sales floor. We’re finding more and more consumers that want to be able to access the internet and popular web-enabled services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Skype through their TV.

If you’re among those interested in these services, I recommend asking to see the Smart TV interface on the TVs you would be interested in purchasing. Look at how fast it loads and how intuitive the menus are to use. This is particularly important if you’re planning to use the Smart TV functions heavily. The faster it loads and easier it is to use, the more you’ll use the functionality.

I’d even recommend considering a Smart TV with quad-core processor for the fastest access to your favorite apps and content. We’re all used to fast load speeds on other smart devices like phones, tablets and computers, shouldn’t we expect the same from our smart TVs.

6. Budget for Sound

Typical TV Wall

Typical TV Wall

Truth be told, TV manufacturers don’t have much motivation to include better sound in their TVs. If you’re shopping for a TV, chances are you’ll find a long wall with dozens of TV sets on display at your retailer of choice. Most consumers will simply pick the best picture for their budget and move on. So, a TV manufacturer is primarily concerned with their picture standing out among the rest – not necessarily ensuring you can actually hear the dialog on your favorite prime time show.

So, while TVs get thinner and brighter to win the aesthetic battle on the sales floor, speakers get smaller and are typically relegated to the back of the TV because they’ve run out of real estate on the front. In order for you to hear the content you’re watching, sound must to come out of the back of the TV, make a U-turn around the TV and make it’s way across the room to your ears in the listening area. I probably don’t need to tell you this doesn’t work very well. The effect is even worse if the TV is mounted on the wall. Imagine turning your back to someone, holding a phone book up to your face and trying to have a conversation.

More bad news, your TV is getting richer content via HDMI than it ever has before. Your cable/satellite box, blu-ray and gaming system is outputting hi-res, multi-channel surround sound audio and your TV is expected to use it’s thin, poorly-placed speakers to decipher that content and send it to you with some sort of clarity. Not a winning combination.

There is some good news, you don’t need to fill your room with bulky, obtrusive speakers and equipment. This sound problem has caused a revolution in the audio industry centered around slim, flat-panel matching solutions for improving the sound quality of your flat panel TV. We carry simple sound solutions quality brands like Polk, Bose and Sonos that will greatly enhance your TV viewing experience. Pricing ranges from approximately $300 to $1500 so there’s something of quality available within most budgets.

Bose CineMate 1SR

Bose CineMate 1SR

Bonus Tip: Check Out the Closeout Deals.

closeout-sale-banners-153Last but not least, be open to buying 2012 technology. You can get a great deal on a closeout TV this time of year. Every retailer – Grand included – is discounting old product to make room for 2013 models. Wherever you buy, be sure to check out the closeouts. Often pricing is as good or better than it was on Black Friday. Check out our Liquidation Center to see models we’re currently closing out.

Dacor’s Renaissance 30″ Induction Range

Dacor's Renaissance 30

Check out the newest product from Dacor: The Renaissance 30″ induction range. The range offers customers in search of a premium induction range an option that blends sophisticated styling, advanced features and premium build quality.

Induction is no longer the future, its here and in high demand. If you’re new to the technology, here’s what you need to know. Rather than radiating heat like a traditional electric cooking surface, induction uses electromagnetic energy to react with molecules in a pot or pan in order to heat the pot or pan itself. The result is quick, consistent heating with precise control. Your cooking surface stays cool to the touch eliminating significant safety risks with traditional smooth electric cooking surfaces.

The induction top is welcome addition to Dacor’s already exceptional oven. Its exclusive Four-Part Pure Convection System provides extremely even heating and air filtration allowing you to cook multiple devices without flavor transfer.

All the tech talk aside, Dacor’s range is unique in that its one of a few pro options on the market and really the only designer-friendly pro option on the market. The sleek Flush handle and smooth touch control panel give the range a clean, contemporary look that blends with virtually any kitchen. Want the pro look? No problem. Its also available with Dacor’s Epicure towel-bar handle.

Play Big, Clean Simple With GE Laundry

Have you seen GE’s Stunning Feats of Laundry campaign on YouTube. It’s a pretty clever, entertaining collection of videos showing people getting filthy in very odd or unique ways. Click the video link to check it out.

This campaign is just a small part of what GE plans to roll out this spring to launch its new premium top-load washers and dryers. From what we’re told, the four-model launch will be one of the biggest launches in GE appliance history as the company plans to have ads blanketing TV and the web.

Good thing there’s plenty to talk about.

The new laundry will be made in GE’s Louisville, KY plant. The plant, which employs more than 4,000 Americans, is part of a company-wide effort by GE to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US.

The new laundry also features some pretty solid technology designed to make cleaning simple. For example, the washer’s innovative Stain Removal Guide is a set of pre-programmed cycles that tackle common stains like grass, dirt or oil at the touch of a button.

SmartDispense automatically dispenses the right amount of detergent and fabric softener for each wash load. The washer ships with factory-set dispenser settings, but you can adjust settings to customize to your preferred amount. The reservoir allows you to store enough detergent and fabric softener for approximately 2 months of use!

The new laundry also features Steam Assist in both dryer models and the premium washer model. Steam in the dryer gets rid of wrinkles and odors in everything from a single outfit to a forgotten load. Steam in the washer penetrates deep into fabric fibers, loosening stains while protecting your fabrics.

In addition to new technology, the new laundry also boasts a massive 5.0 cubic foot washer capacity and 7.8 cubic foot dryer capacity to handle your largest loads. Despite the big capacity, the washer is easy to unload thanks to Deep Tub Access, an ergonomic wash tub design that allows anyone to easily reach the bottom.

Check out the dedicated product page on GE’s website for a complete overview on the product: http://www.geappliances.com/appliances/washer/top-load-washer-dryer.

Check out our locations page to find the location nearest you to see it in person: http://www.grandapplianceandtv.com/en/contactus