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Being a frugal nerd in tough economic times – Part 1

Posted by paradisio on May 2, 2009

Money tight but don’t want to be left in the proverbial dust? In this multi-part segment I’m going to show how you can get some cool stuff at some bargain prices. In this first segment I talk about televisions, accessories, and video games.


If you happen to be sporting the old bunny ears or just want some better graphics, you’re probably looking to finally make the jump to an HDTV. But what should you get and how much should you spend? Well, my first big tip is that if you’re buying a TV under 40 inches, don’t spend the extra money on 1080p resolution, I’m not going to say there is going to be no difference in picture quality between 1080 and 720 at that size, but the difference is going to be fairly minimal. If you’re buying larger than 40 inches, you’re probably going to be coughing up a good amount of money anyways, so you might as well go the distance. Also, you should probably stick to LCD screens, as Plasma is going the way of the dinosaur, not to mention low life expectancy and burn in problems that especially plague gamers.

How to find the right TV? I found Amazon to be the best way as you can search by price range and get tons of reviews, not to mention great prices. You may want to go down to your local electronics store and check out the model in person though, just keep one thing in mind: TVs in show rooms won’t look the same at home. The lighting is far too different than you would have in your homes and the TVs are set way too bright. That’s why I recommend checking out user reviews. If you do purchase a TV in person, try not to get wrangled into too many plans and whatnot, you can end up paying more than the TV, and whatever you do: DO NOT BUY THEIR CABLES. Those special gold, inch thick cables aren’t any better than the cheap ones, and there have been studies which showed that plugging in a wire hanger produced similar results to expensive cables (don’t try at home); if you need cables, go to and you’ll save a fortune on cables and other similar accessories.

TV Accessories/Service:

If you’re like me, you would want a full HDTV package from your cable provider, a Tivo and a Blu-Ray player, but you would end up paying a fortune, not to mention the outrageous monthly fees.

My alternatives? First, buy an HDTV antennae, you probably have a ton of local channels you can get, for free, over the air. If you don’t mind being extremely restricted, you could cancel your cable service entirely. Check out this site for local information about what kind of antennae you need and what stations are available. They offer prices on where you can buy it, but has very cheap antennaes as well, and if you live in an urban area, you probably don’t need a high powered antennae.

As far as a DVR and a Blu-Ray player goes, I would say that the former is a luxury item you really don’t need. While it may not be  as convenient or cutting edge, you would be surprised how cheap VCRs and Tapes are these days. Yea, I just recommended you buy a VCR. For a Blu-Ray player, I recommend you save your money for now, the format is still evolving and I think the players are still a bit too expensive. Instead, if you have an HDTV, I recommend you buy an upconverting DVD player. All these do is reformat old style DVDs for HDTV, it will give you about 75% the quality of Blu-Ray on a much cheaper budget, and you can buy the cheap DVDs everyone is still putting out. Once again, I recommend Amazon, buy a refurbished one if you’re really cheap. If you’re a huge otaku/anime nerd like me, you really don’t need a Blu-Ray player that badly, since no one hardly puts out HD anime anyways.

Not happy with your channel selection with just an antennae? Well, you have a few options. One, you apparently have a computer, check out the free streaming sites many stations have. is great, if you don’t mind watching on your computer (or you can do what I do and buy a 15 foot long VGA cord and hook it up to your TV). Another popular solution is buying individual TV shows on iTunes and the like, unless you watch a ton of TV, this is probably cheaper than a traditional cable service, but do the math in advance.

Another solution is Netflix, and if you want an easy way to get it onto your TV, you can buy a Roku box for streaming Netflix/Amazon service, and the box is only about $100, but you have to pay for a Netflix subscription of course.


Unfortunately, if you want a newer generation console, you will be forking over some big bucks. A PlayStation 2 is pretty cheap these days though, and has a great library of games. Wii is cheap, but honestly, I feel that the game selection is pretty lackluster unless you have children or enjoy old retro games. Between Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it’s a hard choice. Xbox has the superior game library, Netflix Streaming, and can be hooked up to your network to pull media down. Then again, the PS3 has a built in, Blu-Ray player that can download firmware updates. It’s really up to you on what you want, I personally lean towards the Xbox, especially considering rumors that it may get an attachable Blu-Ray drive in the future, but I think the PS3 is a good device as well.

Also, if you don’t mind buying a dead format, you can pick up a Xbox 360 HD DVD Player for a very low price, same with the HD-DVDs if you really want some great quality video.

Looking for something on the portable end? I hate to sound like an anti-sony fanboy, but I really think a DS Lite is the best choice unless you plan on doing some hacking. You can pick up a used/refurbished regular DS pretty cheap now considering the DSi’s release (something that I have no plan on upgrading to currently).

Video Games:

Well, the first big tip is, if you can, buy used. Well, I don’t know about online, but if you go to a store (say Gamestop) and buy a game, buy the used one if they have it, you’ll usually save at least $5-$10 on new titles, and old titles can be dirt cheap. Just make sure to ask to see the disks to make sure they are in good condition first, if they don’t let you see them, leave. Most gamestops don’t sell mangled disks, but some do, I’ve gotten disks that were cracked before.

Second, if you trade in games, shop around. Gamestop frequently offers deals on trade-ins, but there are other stores that trade in games; and if you really want the best price, you can sell your own on E-Bay.

Third, if you fly through the games, I recommend you don’t buy them, use a video game rental service like GameFly instead. I realize a lot of people like owning a stockpiling games, but if you go through a game a week you may find yourself spending a ton of money, especially with most games being fairly short these days.


5 Responses to “Being a frugal nerd in tough economic times – Part 1”

  1. Amazon said

    Amazon Movies & TV is Now Available at Twitter (USA)

    Start Follow Amazon Movies & TV Now Here:

  2. Chad said


  3. Paradisio said

    Mame like the arcade emulator? Was really trying not to give advice on piracy and other pseudo-illegal things.

  4. Chad said


    ( Mame encompasses a large range of abandonware titles as well )

  5. Paradisio said

    Good advice, but that definitely falls into the pseudo-illegal category still. 😀

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