Gadgets & Gear

It’s cheaper to replace then repair an LED TV

For a guy who earns his living on television, I watch surprisingly little of it. But still, when my nine year old Samsung 46-inch LED went on the fritz this weekend, I suddenly felt unconnected. But what to do.

First, the bad news.

My broken TV’s screen sort of looks like this.

Not many places repair them. Parts are hard to get. Everything is on a circuit board. The board you need has to come from the manufacturer and that can take so much time that most independent electronic repair facilities find it financially prohibitive to try and fix them. Besides, they’re big and heavy and the owner has to unplug and haul them to a shop. Shop owners don’t like having them sit around taking up space while they wait on the unlikely chance that parts will be found.

Long gone are the days when a TV service tech would come to your house, take off the back of the set and then pop in a couple of new tubes.

So that $1,400 LED TV I bought nearly a decade ago is not going to get fixed. Bummer.

On the other hand, I can replace it today for about a third of the original price.

So we’re TV shopping. Alas, we have a big cabinet it fits in. I need whatever set I find to fit in that opening. So we’re making the rounds of the big box stores. One benefit, for around $600-$700, I can buy a much better set and the cabinet opening can accommodate up to a 50-inch screen. Today’s sets have built in Wi-Fi, for Netflix and YouTube and Amazon streaming, as well as Pandora music. And I can get three or four HDMI ports out, instead of the two I had on my old Samsung.

Now comes another dilemma: What to do with the old set?

It can’t be left curbside for trash because it’s too big and LED TV’s contain Mercury and other potentially items that need to be properly disposed of at a recycling center.

According to Earth 911, more than 70 percent of the broken electronic gadgets can be recycled, recovering items such as plastic, steel, aluminum, copper, gold and silver to be used in new products. They have a guide on their website  to finding the nearest center.

The big box chain Best Buy has perhaps the most impressive recycling program I’ve found. Best Buy will remove an appliance or TV free of charge from a customer’s home when a new product is purchased and delivered by Best Buy. That’s a good enough incentive for me to buy from them. Or, for a fee, they will also schedule a pickup with no product purchase. In fact, the giant electronics chain says on its recycling info page that it collects  more than 400 pounds of product for recycling every minute their stores are open — no matter what retailer the products were purchased from.

I could try giving our broken TV away on Craig’s List. Some people collect these things, believe it or not. But from previous bad experiences, I’m not a big fan of the service and having strangers come to my house.

Many communities schedule electronic waste pick-ups a couple times a year. I just missed our spring one. But I suppose I can wait till fall, if necessary.

First step, though, it to find a new TV. So I’m off to do some shopping.







Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.