Jonesing to own a new HDTV but don't want to spend a lot of money? Traditionally, the week before the Super Bowl is always the best time to buy one. All the TV makers have announced their new 2011 sets coming in the spring, and retailers are desperate to clear their show floors of last year's products. Hence – bargains galore.
For instance, Best Buy has three Sony Bravia LED LCD HDTVs on sale: the 3D-ready (which means it does 3D if it's connected to a 3D Blu-ray player and you're playing a 3D movie – it displays 2D just fine) Bravia 55-inch KDL-55EX710 at $1,798.99, a discount of a whopping $1,401 over the regular price, the Bravia 60-inch KDL-55HX800 for $1,998.99, a savings of $1,001, and the Bravia 55-inch KDL-60EX700 for $1,499.99, an $800 savings.
While I'm not a big fan of house brands, I am obliged to tell you Best Buy also is bundling two of its Insignia LED LCD HDTVs with free Blu-ray players, an Insignia 42-inch HDTV for $649.98, $350 less than usual, and an Insignia 55-incher for $999.98, $600 off.
Meanwhile at Sears, the best deal is on the Samsung 3D-ready 55-inch 1080p LED HDTV (model number UN55C7000WFXZA for you scoring at home) for only $1,999.99, an amazing $1,300 of the suggested retail price. Not only do you get a great TV at a ridiculous price, Sears is throwing in a free WiFi Ready/Internet Connectable Samsung Blu-ray player.
Sony sets seem to be popular sales items. Among the other HDTV bargains at Sears are Sony's 46-inch Bravia 3D-ready HX800 LED LCD HDTV (model number KDL-46EX710) for only $1,499.99 (regularly $2,499.99), a discount of $1,000, the Sony Bravia 46-inch EX710 Series LED LCD HDTV (model number KDL-46HX800) for only $899.99, a savings of $700. Also on sale is a Zenith 50-inch plasma HDTV (model Z50PJ240) for just $549.99, $150 off.
You can buy any of these online and pick it up at the store, and Sears is offering no interest financing if paid in pay for the set in full within two years.
Wal-Mart has put seven LCD HDTVs on sale. They didn't note the specific model numbers, which makes me suspicious, so I guess you'll actually have to tromp through the snow to the store to check 'em out – they're all 1080p unless indicated:
- Vizio 120Hz 55-inch: $998
- Vizio 120Hz 47-inch: $698
- Samsung 46-inch LED plus a Blu-ray player: $898 (a $560 savings)
- Vizio 42-inch: $548
- Phillips 120Hz 40-inch: $498
- Samsung 40-inch LED plus a Blu-ray player: $748 (a $360 savings)
- Vizio 720p 32-inch: $348
Radio Shack isn't a big TV seller, but you'll find two small models on sale, the Samsung 32-inch LN32c350 for $329.99, and the AOC 32-inch at $279.99. (No, I've never heard of AOC either, and I've been doing this a long time. But its Web-site proclaims it to be "the worldwide leader in HD television and monitor display manufacturing." Well, you learn something new every day.)
I reached out to retailers in both Super Bowl areas, Pittsburgh and Green Bay, but they must be adverse to national exposure because I only heard back from one – Laketon TV Appliance and Satellite Center in Penn Hills, east of Pittsburgh (that's their ad illustrating this expose).
Again, I didn't get specific model numbers, but here's what bargains Gary Pietropola and his fellow Laketon boys are offering:
- 65-inch Samsung: $3,650
- 60-inch Samsung: $2,100
- 60-inch Sony: $1,975
- 55-inch Samsung: $1,700
- 55-inch Sony: $1,475
- 46-inch Samsung: $1,075
- 40-inch Sony: $875
- 40-inch Samsung: $750
If you're in the area and you drop in, ask for Gary and mention I sent you. You won't get an additional discount, but you might be rewarded with a hilariously quizzical look for your trouble.
Personally, I wouldn't buy most of these – they're nearly all LED LCD HDTVs. I'm a died-in-the-wool plasma man myself. But if you're buying it for the Super Bowl, that means a big bright room, and an LED LCD set of at least 42 inches is totally appropriate. Anything smaller is a bed/bath/kitchen/kids/workout/garage room set, and Super Bowl viewing inappropriate.
If you put a drunken tail-gater in my face to force me to make a choice, I'd head to Sears for that 55-inch Samsung 3D set. After I washed my face. Dude, just the news, not the weather.
But before you whip out your wallet, here's some advice.
Watch your Hz. The higher the hertz (Hz), the speed at which the TV picture refreshes itself, the less "motion blur" – the after-image tail often seen on objects moving quickly across the screen, such as one of Big Ben's or Aaron Rodger's downfield spirals. Scrolling text or anything moving zipping by will be clearer on a 240 or even 480 Hz set than on a 120 Hz model. 3D sets usually have the highest hertz – for 2D viewing, they're the best sets available.
LED is NOT a new technology, it's simply a different way to illuminate, or backlight, the actual liquid crystals. You want an LED LCD equipped with "local dimming," not "edge-lit." Local dimming LED backlighting more evenly distributes the backlight across the screen, providing a more realistic image.
Ask the sales person to put on sports – that's why you're buying the set, right? – and then something with a ticker running across the bottom, ESPN or one of the financial channels, so you can do some comparisons, especially to check for motion blur.
Finally, ask about floor samples. Retailers are totally desperate to earn something/anything on those unboxed models hanging on the walls. There's nothing wrong with the these sets (other than, perhaps, some dings on the frame), and retailers will give you a full warranty and, with a little haggling, a ridiculous price.
So, get that giant flat screen HDTV and let's go…whomever you're rooting for.