Different Model Numbers for the Same AV Equipment – What Does It Mean?
If you are shopping for AV equipment (specifically TVs), you may find something strange. The same TV or AV equipment at one store has slightly different model numbers than the same thing at a different store. What does it mean? Are these truly different products? Is one better than the other?
Are There Really Differences?
The model numbers may be exactly the same except for a couple of numbers or letters at the end. As you look over the specification, you may not be able to find any changes. Very rarely, there might be slight differences in the aesthetics. Rarely will there be any real differences.
One recent example of this is the release of the Yamaha TSR-700 AV receiver. When you compare the Yamaha TSR-700 to the Yamaha RX-V6A AV receiver and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any differences other than the model numbers of these popular pieces of home theater equipment. There are some marketing differences: One is called 7.1 with dual subwoofer outputs and the other is called 7.2. These are the same thing. Two AV receivers from the same manufacturer with the same features. Why?
If you are a local store, how do you get people through the door? Great customer service, unique products, large selection, busy location…there are lots of ways. One of the most effective ways to get people in the door is to offer something people want or need on sale. Every week you’ll get an advertisement from your local supermarket about their weekly sales. Why? Because sales get people to visit your store. Once they are inside, they probably will buy more than just the sale item.
Many retailers will offer price matching in order to entice people to shop with them. They’ll even claim that they’ll match prices you can find online (usually from select e-tailers). So, if they want to bring in AV buyers, they need to discount an AV product. If you are Yamaha (or other AV equipment manufacturer), you don’t want there to be different prices on the same equipment. One retailer running a sale forces everyone else to suddenly match that price. If they don’t want to match the price, they lose the sale or, worse for Yamaha, stop selling their products.
The solution is to give the same AV equipment models different numbers depending on where they are sold. Sure, we all know it is the same product. But as long as the model numbers are different, retailers don’t have to price match.
Is it sketchy? Yes. But manufacturers have to walk a thin line between allowing retailers to set their own prices (even if they sell at a loss to get people in the door) and making sure they don’t anger their other retailers. Different model numbers for the same AV equipment is the solution they’ve landed on.
What does this mean for you? It means you will likely have to do a little more research when shopping. You can’t just search for the model number of the TV or other AV equipment you want and price compare. You’ll need to take an extra step and search to see if there are other models with the same features. Fortunately, the Internet is full of nerds (like me) that probably keep track of things like that.