Some Assembly Required

Television is getting more complicated. It used to be that the hardest part was carrying it in and getting it into your media center furniture. Now we have have flat panels and surround sound systems, and a zillion different types of cables and connectors and remote controls. The tech-savvy buyer can still put all the pieces together, but not everyone wants to learn enough to do this for themselves. (Witness all the VCRs that never got their clock set.)

High-end stores provide installation services, but these can often add a significant bump to the total cost. You can save some money buying the parts at a big box store, but professional installation can still be expensive. Well, the big box stores are responding to this situation, and you can now get installation more or less for free in some cases.

This week’s circular from Circuit City lists a 42″ LG LCD TV for $1,799, and an LG 1000-watt 5.1 home theater system with DVD player for $269. Combined, that’s $2,068. But Circuit City offers the two at a package price of $1,999, including installation by their firedog service. Now, the installation isn’t anything special; they’ll hook everything up, mount two speakers on the wall if you want, and will get the remote controls working together. And they’ll show you how to work it. That’s a lot less than installing a swivel wall mount for your flat screen and hiding all the wires in the walls, but those are the types of tasks that make installation so expensive. Here you get someone familiar with the parts to hook it all together and make sure it’s working correctly, for less than the cost of the two items separately. It sounds like a good bargain, and it will be interesting to see if Circuit City expands on this sort of package deal.