Digital Terrestrial Fever: Beware of Imported TVs

With the current shortage of small Smart TVs caused by the impending digital terrestrial switch off, the risk of finding an imported TV on the shelves increases: here's what changes for those who buy it

With the switch off just around the corner, and with the first RAI and Mediaset channels changing encoding on October 20, it's digital terrestrial fever: thousands of Italians are rushing to buy a new TV to continue watching all the free channels and, in particular, are looking for a small, inexpensive Smart TV for the kitchen or other secondary rooms. These models are now scarce and on the shelves of supermarkets and electronics chains are returning the imported TVs.

That is, TVs produced for other markets, European and otherwise, that given the peak of sales in Italy are moved to Italian stores to meet the demand caused by the switch off to digital terrestrial second generation. These TVs have always been on the market, often at very advantageous prices, but today, as in the past, those who buy them risk having some problems if they are not aware that they are imported specimens. The hardware of the Smart TV, in fact, does not change even if it is imported, but the settings, the software and the warranty could be very different from those present on a TV produced specifically for the Italian market. Let's see why.

Imported Smart TV: what's different

From a technical point of view, display quality, audio power and smart functions, usually nothing changes between a Smart TV for the Italian market and an imported one: the model is the same, produced in the Far East with the exact same features and components.

The first bad surprise, however, could be in the LCN numbering system: Logical Channel Numbering. That is, in the automatic channel numbering system, which for TVs produced expressly for the Italian market must follow a specific legal framework, as provided for by Legislative Decree 177 of 31 July 2005: whoever buys a TV only has to turn it on, tune the channels and then find them in the same position on the remote control.

Each country has its own LCN numbering system and TVs leave the factory with the numbering system of the countries in which they will be sold. If, however, Italy was not initially among the countries provided, as in the case of many imported TVs, then something very unpleasant happens: the LCN numbering does not work and TV channels are "scattered" in numbers that do not correspond to those of normal TVs.

It is always possible to remedy by manually changing the numbering of all channels, but it is definitely not convenient, while in some cases you can do it automatically by setting a country with a numbering similar to the Italian one. A classic case is the case of imported Samsung Smart TVs, which revert to Italian numbering if they are set for Poland. But it's not the easiest operation.

Imported Smart TVs: watch out for the warranty

The second problem with imported TVs concerns the warranty. All manufacturers must offer at least a two-year legal warranty on electronic devices (one year if you buy with a VAT number), and many large manufacturers offer more extensive warranties on flagship products.

In the case of imported TVs, however, the problem is not so much how long the warranty lasts, but how you can exercise your rights in the event of a defective product. All manufacturers must agree to repair a product free of charge if it is still under warranty, even if it is an imported TV, within their own laboratories or in authorized laboratories.

If the TV is Italian, therefore, very often the defective product is picked up at home by courier and the repaired product is then delivered, while on imported TVs sometimes the customer has to take the defective product to the nearest laboratory. The problem, however, is that often there is only a very small number of laboratories in Italy (usually only one laboratory in the province of Milan, or one in Milan, one in Rome and one in Naples).

Now, it is clear that if you buy an imported Smart TV in an electronics store in Rosolini in the province of Syracuse, maybe a nice 60-70 inches, and you have to take it to Milan for a repair (and then go and get it back), in fact it is as if the warranty did not exist. Or, equally frequently, the manufacturer offers the intervention of an authorized technician at the customer's home, but only for a fee (but any parts to be replaced will be free of charge: you pay the "travel").

In short, imported TVs are products to "handle with care": always better to make sure of what you are buying, and then choose with full knowledge of the facts.