Buy! Buy! Buy!! TVs Have Never Been Cheaper

You should buy a TV. I should buy a TV. He, she, and they should all buy TVs. My dog Rusty should buy a TV. TV's have never been cheaper, and if my guess is correct — though I don't claim to be any sort of a C.E. Nostradamus — they're unlikely to get much more so any time soon.

Right now, a quick perusal of my favorite "deals" sites shows a Vizio 48-inch E-Series for $328, a Sceptre 55-inch, 4K set for $310, and a Sharp 4K 55-er for an only slightly less paltry $349. (It's a refurb, which I consider a bonus, not a demerit: a refurb has been checked out, fixed, certified to work as new, and repackaged. All my electronics are refurbs, including all my Apple junk. My above-mentioned dog Rusty, a rescue, is a refurb. Even my wife is a refurb.)

How low can you go? How 'bout an Atyme 50-inch 1080P screen for $219, shipping included? (This is the one I'm considering for Rusty.) Who the hell is Atyme? I have no idea, but they promise to extract "…stunning picture quality and clarity from innovative featurs [sic] that put greater beauty into every pixel," and you can't say fairer than that.

All well, and good, you say, but what about TV's I might actually wish to own?

Would you consider LG's 2015-year 65-inch OLED unit (65EF9500) for $2,249? I know I would; it may not be HDR, but in my opinion that's less of a dealer for an OLED set, and anyway, my personal dynamic range isn't all that great these days. What about a Vizio M65-D0 65-inch 4K/HDR (refurb) display for $899? Or a 2016 Sony HDR HDR/4K-er in a 55-inch inseam, the XBR55X700D, at $798?

I may have no clue which tech conglomerate came up with the "Atyme" monicker, but I will bet pounds to piasters I know from whence it comes: China. Virtually all these TVs come from China, and if you think it through, the Chinese manufacturing miracle really does begin to look like, well, a miracle.

Let's take our Atyme example: for the Biggest Baddest Box Store of Them All to offer it for $219, I don't imagine they can afford to pay much more than, let's say, $200. (Yes, I know it might well be a bat-guano loss-leader, but work with me here.) Maybe they buy it direct from the factory, but let's suppose there's at least one level of distribution in between, which means the distributor is paying the factory something less, perhaps $185.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain that I could not purchase, even in whatever ridiculous bulk, a 54 x 4 0 x 7-inch cardboard carton, and throw into it some expanded-foam and cardboard packing materials, a plastic bag, a printed manual (or at least quick-setup guide) and warranty card, a power-cord, a remote controller, a pair of AAA batteries (however cheap and short-lived), perhaps an HDMI cable (ditto the previous), and then fill the remaining volume with wood-chips, and ship it 7000 sea miles from Shenzhen to Seattle, for $185-per. Even by the container-load. Even by the container-shipload.

Why, to achieve a feat of this magnitude, you'd have to own the the means of production and everything upstream, which is to say the silicon, copper, and rare-earth mines and processing plants, the IC-wafer-producing factories, the screen-production lines, the plastics-molding factories, the circuit-board-loading factories, the assembly factory, the railway between the factory and the port, the port facilities, the containers, the docks, and the ships themselves. And who on earth could do all that?

China, that's who. Communism, or at least monolithic, post-collectivist structuralism, is having the last laugh, at certain levels, at any rate, and it's a damned good one. (I'm not sure the stevedores, working for whatever it is stevedores in China are paid, are laughing, but I've never been there to ask them.)

Of course, all this will change after our own Dear Leader imposes a new, amazing, winners' trade deal with those pushover Commies down there in China. This, we are promised, will level the playing field, stopping the Chinese cold from dumping their ridonkulously cheap screens on our holy shores, and in consequence double the number of TV-manufacturing jobs we have here in the Land of the Free, from zero to — let's see, divide by pi, carry the one, multiply by two — uh, zero. It will also raise the price of televisions here in the U.S., I am assured by Nostradamus, with whom I just texted via Ouji-board — by one third to one half. Hey, don't shoot the messenger.

But if you must, I'm easy to find; I'll be down Wallyworld, stocking up.

brenro's picture

Good for a chuckle and smart.

pw's picture

I will buy the day after Star Wars 2 this December..
$$ divided by features X review X Brand Name..

John Sully's picture

I'm thinking of getting a 32 inch TCL Roku set to replace the 12 year old bedrooom set. For $169 you can't beat it!