I know what you are thinking: television sets found on the curb MUST be broken! And, yes, this is true -- sometimes. I have found TVs with smashed screens and a vast array of other technical and technicolor difficulties. But I have also found TVs on the curb that work! Often, they are put on the curb because they DO work and are being offered to anyone interested in taking them. If they were broken, they would have been put in the trash can!
I found these two TVs on the curb over the Thanksgiving weekend. The silver one has a built-in VCR. I like VCRs and still use this out-dated technology because I have lots of videos in this format and can buy millions of movies for about $1 each or less at thrift stores and garage sales. Alas, this TV had the cable/antenna connection broken off which renders it utterly useless. The brown one, though ugly, works!
I should add that I have no qualms about returning an item to the curb from which I got it if it doesn't work out for me -- it just took a little joy ride and then went back to where it came from! No one can blame me!
As more and more man caves get their 51" flat screens, more and more old boxy TVs get put on the curb. For this reason, today, more then ever before, a curbside TV stands a good chance of being operable. Often they were thrown out because they were replaced by a flat screen rather than because they didn't work.
That said, the presumption that an item was thrown out for a reason does often prove true. This is the rationale of the majority. But it is also the reason that I get things for free -- because the reason the item was thrown out is not always the reason you'd think! Many people pass by a working TV on the curb because they assume it's broken. The TV then goes to the person who checks it out and finds out that it does indeed work and was thrown out because it didn't go with the new decor or was replaced my more updated technology or was left by a departed roommate or whatever!
Other times and with other items, the reason they were thrown out isn't a reason I care about. I don't care if the upholstery is faded or stained or outdated if I am planning to slipcover something. I don't care if something is broken if I'm going to use it for some other purpose where the broken part doesn't matter. My vintage radio cabinet was tossed because the radio didn't work. I didn't care about the radio, I use it for storing blankets.
Still other times, people lack the most basic repair skills and found items can easily be fixed with varying levels of work or skill -- sometimes just a screw here or a nail there! Unless an item stinks to high heaven or is somehow infested, it's often worth taking a chance on if I like it or have a vision for it.