It's the week before the Patriots beat the Giants (for New England readers) or the Giants beat the Patriots (for New York/New Jersey readers) or you see a lot of really cool commercials (for those who don't care about football) in the Super Bowl this weekend.
In tech land, the Super Bowl means one thing – it's the best week of the year to buy a new TV. If you can't find a ridiculous bargain on a new set, you aren't trying.
Why is this cheap HDTV week? A confluence of two events, a perfect storm for HDTV bargain hunters.
First, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last month, all the major TV vendors introduced their 2012 models. These new HDTVs should be arriving in stores starting next month. To make room for them, retailers have to slash prices on their remaining HDTV inventory to get rid of them.
Second, the Super Bowl. Consumers tend to shop for TVs just before a big TV event.
So, desperate retailers + Super Bowl = BIG HDTV DISCOUNTS.
You already have an HDTV? A 42-inch or less or an old LCD model? This would be a great week to move this old set to the bedroom and get a 50-inch or larger for far less than you paid for the 42-incher originally.
But wait, you're asking. Aren't newer TVs likely to have a better picture? Yes and no. Manufacturers do tweak new models to slightly improve the picture. But unless you have trained eyes and are offered a side-by-side comparison, you're unlikely to detect any difference.
What changes mostly from year-to-year are an HDTV's features and energy efficiency, not the actual panel, or "glass." In terms of picture quality, you'll see essentially the same quality from last year's sets as this year's.
What set do I buy?
A few months ago, I posted my "6 Tips For Buying A (Good) Cheap HDTV." The advice therein still stands. In short:
- Plasma, plasma, plasma. Panasonic, Samsung or LG. An old plasma will give you a cleaner and crisper picture, especially when footballs are flying through the air, than nearly any new LED LCD every day and especially on Super Bowl Sunday.
- If you must buy an LED LCD, avoid 120 Hz models – get at least 240 Hz.
- 720p for sets 50-inches and smaller; 1080p on sets 50-inches and larger.
- No 3D
- Say "NO!" to an extended warranty.
You should be able to find a 42-inch plasma set (there are no plasma TVs smaller than 42 inches) this week for less than $500, a 50-inch for under $1,000 without breathing hard. For instance, I found the 60-inch Panasonic VIERA TC-P60S30 for just $999.99 on Amazon.
Additionally, you may get a real deal by asking about floor samples. There is nothing wrong with a set that's been hanging on a retailer's wall except maybe some cosmetic dings, and you'll likely be able to bargain for a full manufacturer's warranty – and get a steep discount.
In all events, if you've been dawdling over getting a new TV, this is the week to stop dawdling.