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I heard from a retailer (probably looking out for his own interest) that companies produce certain models for sale at Costco (and other similar stores) and "better" models for sale by high end video/media stores. Is there any truth to this?
 

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Costco typically has new old stock form the big name manufacturers. MAybe previous generation. This is not always the case. Some of the time, the big box retailers, like Best Buy, will have the SAME model as Costco, but with a slightly altered model number. This can discourage price comparisons because the big box store can then say exactly what you heard, they aren't as good. This is false. They are identical except for the model number (in many cases). The Vizio and Maxent and other crap brands are just plain cheap wherever they are purchased so there is less monkeying around. Pioneer has several identical models with slightly different model numbers for sale at different retailers. At least one time, one of the models had an included wall mount, but otherwise the panel was identical.
 
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