HDTV Deals: Black Friday Recap and 2013 Predictions

Best of Black Friday Deals 2013ARE YOU READY for BLACK FRIDAY 2013?

HDTV Deals:

HDTV deals were the big winner with Black Friday shoppers last year as retailers advertised a record number of TV deals (313 deals from 28 stores) and some of the lowest prices we’ve ever seen on HDTVs. This trend continued leading up to the Super Bowl as well. There were a couple of 50+” models for under $400, some 60″ models under $600 and at least one 42″ under $200. But were they the best? Do they even stack up to current TV deals?

FatWallet tech/finance expert Bryan Marsden ranks the Top 10 TV Deals from Black Friday 2012.

Sony 55″ 1080p 120Hz Smart HDTV w/ WiFi (KDL55EX640) from Navy Exchange

– See Details.
$799.99 (msrp $1789.99) specs: 1080p, 120Hz, 4 HDMI, 2 USB, 1 composite video, 1 component video, optical digital out, stereo minijack output (for home theaters/ sound bars), built in WiFi, ethernet port, Internet Smart TV w/ built in apps.

This HDTV still sells for $1300 at Walmart, so for $800 this TV was an excellent buy. It comes with enough ports for all your other electronics, and has built in WiFi for easy access to your Netflix, and Hulu accounts. Picture wise it’s a solid offering. Black levels are above average. Color saturation and depth are really good.

Based on the $1300 price tag, cnet’s Ty Pendlebury still gave it 3 out of 5 stars. At $500 LESS last Black Friday, this TV was a solid buy.

LG 55″ LED 1080p 120Hz 3D Bundle (55LM4700 + BP325W) from Fry’s Electronics

– See Details.
$799 (msrp $1299) w/Soundbar,Smart 3D Blu-ray Player, 3D Glasses specs: 1080p, 120Hz, 3 HDMI, 1 audio/video in, 1 SPDIF audio out, 1 USB, 1 ethernet, 1 VGA, 1 mini audio in, 3D capable.

Last year Fry’s showcased this deal as a cheap home theater bundle. The TV itself is from LGs budget TV line–not a bad thing but it does lack in some key areas. It is edge lit, allowing for a much thinner TV, but doesn’t perform as well as a auto dimming back lit TV. It also isn’t a “smart TV”, (lacks built in WiFi) and the speakers are below average, so you need the Blu-ray player and soundbar bundled with it to enjoy online services like Netflix and Hulu with good sound. 3D capabilities doesn’t make the deal any better, but Walmart buyers gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

While the TV alone isn’t stellar, Fry’s made up for its shortfalls with the bundled items. Most noteworthy, the WiFi enabled Blu-ray player is a good addition to this deal, which streams content from external hard drives, and it has a built in web browser (no ethernet cable to your TV). your3dcenter gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

Vizio 60″ LED 1080p 120Hz HDTV (E601i-A3) from Walmart

– See Details.
$688 (msrp $888), specs: 1080p, 120Hz, 4 HDMI, 1 composite, 1 component, 1 VGA, 1 ethernet, 2 USB, 1 SPDIF audio out, 1 analog out, built in WiFi w/ built in apps.

This TV retailed for $1000 last year, so at $688 (30% off), it was a Black Friday bargain for a 60″ LED TV. Plenty of ports for other electronics and built in WiFi, this “smart TV” gives you easy access to your streaming video services and comes with a full querty keyboard remote, which makes it easier to search those streaming services for the content you want to watch.

As with most edge lit LED TVS, the black levels aren’t as good as back lit LED TVs, but overall the picture is very solid and PCMag gives it a 3.5 out of 5 rating. And last years black friday price would STILL be a good HDTV deal today!

Mitsubishi 73″ DLP 1080p 120Hz HDTV (WD73C12) from HHGregg

– See Details.
$799.99 (msrp Discontinued), specs: 1080p, 120Hz, 2 HDMI, 1 USB 1 component video, 1 composite, 1 digital audio out, 1 DVI/PC audio in.

At 73″ it was, and still is a monster of a TV–and price per inch was incredible, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. A close-out DLP, it has roughly half the inputs/outputs as the other TVs on this list, no WiFi and it is very bulky compared to LEDs and plasma TVs. But the down sides don’t end there–DLPs use a bulb to provide the light to a color wheel, which then with thousands of little mirrors create the picture. Bulb life falls short of LCD, LED, or plasma TVs and cost a couple of hundred bucks each to replace.

The picture is decent, color is good, but black levels and uniformity could be better. In bright light it tends to wash out (like a plasma TV). If you were looking for the biggest TV for the cheapest price, this would fit the bill. Amazon and Walmart users both gave it 4+ stars as a rating. For $799 you do get a whole lotta picture, but we would personally get the Vizio above for $120 less, and settle for a smaller screen.

Samsung 51″ Plasma 1080p 600Hz HDTV (PN51E530) from Sears

– See Details.
$579.99 (msrp $899.99) , specs: 1080p, 600Hz, 2 HDMI, 1 USB, 1 component in, 1 composite in, 1 digital out, 1 DVI audio in.

The Samsung PN51E530 put a high end HDTV screen in a budget HDTV. The picture on it is very good. As with most plasma TVs, it has excellent black levels, very accurate color, and off angle viewing is superb. There is a downside though. It tends to wash out in normal or bright lighting. It’s not a smart TV, so it doesn’t have built in WiFi and it’s very limited on the ports to connect other electronics. If you live simple, with cable, a Roku or Apple TV, and a solid soundbar, this is a great TV for a dark room at a good price. Amazon reviewers give it 4.5 out of stars.

Emerson 50″ LCD 1080p 60Hz HDTV (LC501EM3) from Walmart

– See Details.
$298 (msrp $398), specs: 1080p, 60Hz, 2 HDMI, 1 USB, 1 component, 1 VGA in, 1 digital audio out.

This TV was one of Walmart’s doorbusters. Nothing fancy, but like the 73” DLP it was cheap for the screen size. With the lack of Wifi, inputs/outputs, and only 60Hz it’s what we expect from a TV of this price. Black levels are inconsistent, standard definition looks soft or slightly out of focus. Reliability also seems to be an issue for this manufacturer (Emerson/Sylvania/Magnavox), hence the short 90 day warranty. This is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. For a spare room or kids room TV, this was an ideal purchase, but a main TV it is not.

Toshiba 40″ LCD 1080p 60Hz HDTV (40E220U) from Best Buy

– See Details.
$179.99 (msrp $419.99), specs: 1080p, 60Hz, 2 HDMI, 1 USB, 1 component, 1 composite,.

Toshiba’s no frills budget series TV was a very good buy at the price Best Buy was offering on Black Friday. It’s not smart, WiFi-less, has limited input/out put connections and only 60Hz (will have some ghosting with action movies, games and sports), but if you were looking for a cheap spare TV, this was it.

According to cnet, the picture has good black and color levels, a crisp screen and decent viewing angles. They give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. For $180, it was the kind of deal that has made Black Friday famous.

RCA 42″ Plasma HDTV (42PA30RQ) from Kmart

– See Details.
$199.99 (msrp $449.99), specs: 720p, 600Hz, 2 HDMI, 1 USB, 1 composite, 1 component, 1 digital audio.

This TV is only 720p (vs. 1080p), but that really doesn’t matter unless you are VERY close, as we have mentioned in our HDTV chart. Like most Black Friday budget TVs, it lacks WiFi, smart technology and some ports of more expensive units. Yet, the picture is solid, possibly due to the Samsung panel. Like most Plasma TVs it has good black levels, color, great for off viewing angles and performs much better in low light rooms. For $200 this TV was a great buy.

Panasonic 50″ Viera Plasma HDTV (TC-P50X5) (Friday at 4AM) from Sears

– See Details.
$299.99 (msrp $799.99), specs: 720p, 600Hz, 2 HDMI, 1 SD card slot, 1 USB, 1 DVI audio in, 1 shared composite/component, 1 digital audio out.

Like the RCA, this TV is only a budget 720p Plasma and has the same shortfalls for picture quality if you sit too close or put it in a bright room, but the price was red hot and one of the most talked about deals last year…while it lasted.

Panasonic was known for the picture quality of their plasma panels, and for a long time were the standard. That is not the case with this TV. Black levels are mediocre, which is rare for a plasma TV. Cnet said the over-all color palette was way to green. It leeched into other color tones and shadows. At $299 it was a fair buy, but for that price you would be better off getting the Toshiba 50″ LED (featured below).

Toshiba 50″ LED 1080p TV (50L2200U) from Sears

– See Details.
$299.99 (msrp $799.99), specs: 1080p, 60Hz, 2 HDMI, 1 USB, 1 component, 1 composite, 1 digital audio out, 1 HD PC input, 1 3.5mm PC audio in.

This TV was another one of Sears doorbuster deals. It’s a budget minded 1080p, LED, back lit HDTV. It’s only 60Hz, but that doesn’t affect the picture much. With limited inputs/outputs you may be pressed to get all your electronics hooked up to it, including a digital media streaming device to get Roku, or smart Blu-ray player to get to Netflix or Hulu.

While TV Advices marks it down for the remote, and some cosmetics issues, Black Friday shoppers didn’t let that deter them from buying this TV. With excellent black levels, great color accuracy, good uniformity, good shadow details and the $299 doorbuster price, this was perhaps the best TV for the money last year.

HDTV Deals Predictions for 2013 Holiday

As we predicted, the 2012 Holiday shopping season was the first time we saw dozens of big screen tv’s (50″ and up) on sale for 30-50% off (or more). Smart TV’s, 3D, LED, LCD and Plasma technology were all readily available and purchased, although the real steals were more budget models w/o smart technology or WiFi. (Ditto leading up to 2013 Super Bowl.) 2013 will be much of the same, however we expect many of the thinner, lighter and “smarter” models will be at “good deal” pricing as shoppers who missed last year’s TV sale frenzy will get another crack at upgrading their main TV, possibly bundled with a Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription!

SERIES Master List: “Best of Black Friday 2012″

FatWallet’s in-depth series reveals the top products and deals from last year…some you’ll wish you didn’t miss! Featuring expert deal reviews, shopping tips and predictions for 2013, series content is based on sales and shopping activity recorded from FatWallet’s Black Friday Deal Finder (and mobile app) in 2012 which featured 27,000+ deals and doorbusters, 100+ Black Friday ads, and the hot Thanksgiving Day Deals, as well as Cyber Monday Deals from last year.

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