audio technology

Best Buy

While I was waiting for my stereo to be installed, I wandered around Best Buy. I hadn’t done a full store tour in a while, and it was illuminating. After hearing about all of the tablets released at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (I think it was 40!) I wanted to see what a non-Apple one looked like. I could only find one tablet computer, the iPad. I think the competitors are going to have a difficult time, the iPad has a significant lead right now and it doesn’t sound like a lot of them will be out before the middle of the year. There was a lady getting some information about the iPad there. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Best Buy guy not talking nonsense. I deliberated a little, but decided not to be the jerk that cost him a sale by mentioning the free set-up at the Apple store:-)

Best Buy might as well be called the TV store. TVs were easily the biggest part of their sales floor. Once again, I was blown away at how good some of them looked. I had to keep repeating the mantra “You don’t watch TV, you don’t watch TV” in order to avoid buying one. I caught myself thinking that $2000 really wasn’t too bad a price for that TV… Yes, Hockey would be amazing on one of those, but really, I can spend my money on better things. If I were a bigger movie kind of guy I probably would already own one… I checked out the 3d TVs too. Some of them, especially from Panasonic, were impressive. I really can’t see wearing glasses all the time though. The LED backlit displays really do seem to be worth saving up for, there does seem to be a real difference.

Of course, places like that have always played games with TVs in order to mover certain ones. It was fairly obvious as I walked down the aisles that some TVs had their saturation turned down, brightness lowered, etc. There were several others that had the video equivalent of “boom and tizz.” In the audio world, speakers that have impressive bass and sizzling highs really stand out. Of course if you listen to them for a while, you get tired of them. The most natural speakers sound boring when you first hear them. People tend to buy the speakers that get their attention, subtle loudness adjustments are all it takes to steer people towards certain speakers. The same goes with TVs. The classic ploy was to bias the pictures towards blue, guys seem to be attracted to that. Nowadays, excessive brightness, garish colors, and lousy comparisons are the things used to get people to pick one TV over another. The TV section was the only place where people made eye contact with me, let alone offer any help.

What else… I saw several audio bits that were interesting. They sell Martin Logan and B&W speakers, both brands have long been high end audio staples. While I know that the models they sell at Best Buy aren’t their best models, it’s good to know that you can get decent speakers there. I also saw a pair of active speakers I had briefly considered getting called Rokit. They have gotten pretty good reviews… They are also carrying electronics that have always been considered solid mid-fi brands like Denon, Marantz, and Yamaha. Pioneer is still there, but I no longer see any Onkyo, or Kenwood. It looks like you can get a nice sounding system there. When I used to sell this kind of equipment, you really couldn’t.


I was shocked at how many of their electronic displays simply weren’t working. All of the cameras I picked up were dead, and all of the smart phones were static displays only. You couldn’t try any of them out, they just had a sticker showing you what it could look like. Pretty lousy way to show stuff. Honestly, after walking through there, I’m saddened at how low the bar is set in electronics retail. No wonder Apple is kicking tail. I don’t think I’d go there for anything but a TV. Even then, I’d have to have my guard up so that I’m not unduly influenced by their display antics. Are there any other big electronic stores around anymore?

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