The big game is around the corner and your new big screen TV is still in the box. What are you waiting for? The beer's in the fridge and the popcorn is ready for popping. But, guess what? There's much more involved in hooking up your big screen TV than just plugging in that big boy. Where do you start?
How to hook up your big screen TV
Your choicesHook it up yourself (Way to go, Girl!)
Get your hubby, boyfriend, dad, kid brother or some other willing techno-male to hook it up for you (Pizza and beer is a good bribe).
Call in the Pros!
Recommendation: Hooking up your big screen TV correctly is no picnic and the installation manual can be extremely confusing, though it probably will include a toll free number to call for installation help from the manufacturer. Unless you're really good at cabling, you're better off leaving this job to one of the guys. If your budget can afford it, hiring a reputable pro would be the way to go. (Haven't yet purchased the TV yet? Consider purchasing from an electronics store that includes installation in their sale price.)
The cost of professional hook upBasic hook-up for a table/entertainment unit model will cost approximately $150. A wall installation with hidden, behind-the-wall cables is a lot more involved and can cost between $400 and $500. Be aware that the price the installer will quote you does not include all the required cables. Depending on the type, number and length of cables needed, the price can rise substantially.
Cables... Cables... and more CABLES!Cables are an expensive part of hooking up your big screen TV and may even run into hundreds of dollars. The installation cost can be reduced by a good amount if you do a little research ahead of time for the best prices. You or your guy can map out the hook-up, do the research ahead of time and determine if it's more economical to purchase them yourself or from the installer. The TV's manual will have a wiring diagram of which cables are needed and where each end goes for different types of installations. Just be sure to research correctly for the right type cable, connectors, and length.
Finding a pro – Your optionsCall the store where you purchased the TV for recommended names of installers.
Get a recommendation from a trusted friend.
Check your local phone directory under "Home Theater."
If you don't have HD serviceIf you don't have HD service, it will have to be ordered a few weeks beforehand (cable, DirectTV, Dish, etc), and that installer will usually hook up everything for you instead of having to hire another company. You will, of course, need to have all the correct cables on hand. They won't run cables in the walls or do any custom work.
Calling the professionals: Questions THEY may askBefore you begin calling around for estimates, it's important to know the answers to the questions they may ask:
What brand and model of big screen TV do you have?
What type of equipment do you want to hook up together? (TV, hi-def cable or satellite box, DVD player, etc)
Will it be a table or wall mount?
Which cables will you need?
Calling the professionals: Questions YOU should askHow long has the company been in business?
How many years of experience does the installer have?
Are they a licensed and insured installer?
Does the company warranty their labor? (It should be warranted for at least one year.)
How far out are they booking appointments?
Will the hook-up price include training you on how to correctly use all the system's features?
How long will it take to hook up my big screen?It may take anywhere from two days to a week until the installation company can schedule you in. Be sure you have the necessary equipment for the installation on hand, especially the high def or satellite box from your cable company. Missing parts will delay the installation and may end up costing you more for a second visit. Hooking up your big screen TV should only take about one hour if it's a table model, and a more complicated through-the-wall installation may take anywhere from two to four hours.
It's all set up! Now what?Hooking up your big screen TV should be more than the installer connecting cables and walking out the door. According to Keith Brown, owner of A2Z Electronics Wizards in Phoenix, "The installer not only needs to know how to do his job, but also must know how to be patient with training the customer." A good professional will fill you in on all the features of the unit and how to operate them.
Optional EquipmentYou don't want to deal with a handful of remotes? Simple remotes that tie in all your components are available, but will cost you. The Logitech "Harmony One," for example, can do the job but will cost an additional $400-$500...and that doesn't even include programming! An index card with remote instructions may fit more comfortably into your budget.
On your mark. Get set. Show!Finally! Your big screen TV is all set up. Quick! Get out the cold beer and the popcorn. Wow! What a beautiful picture! Aren't you sorry you didn't do it sooner? What? Did you say it's STILL in the box? Superbowl Sunday is around the corner! What are you waiting for?
Resource: A2Z Electronics Wizards, Keith Brown, Owner