For those of us thinking about heading out to buy a TV on Black Friday, where to get the best deals can be a bit confusing. One thing we found is that often pricing on highly promoted sets from major brands such as Panasonic, Samsung and Sony, vary by only a few dollars from chain to chain. That will allow you to shop at the closest retailer without feeling that you’re missing out on a bargain.
Looking over the various announced and leaked Black Friday ads, there are a number of great deals for TV buyers. From what we’ve seen so far, the deals break down into two scenarios: price drops on current models from major brands, and promotional pricing on derivative major-brand sets, and special deals on items from secondary or tertiary brands.
Also, before you head out to a store, check and see if the retailer is offering the same—or even better—deals online. Amazon has a number of Black Friday-week TV deals, and Walmart’s online sale, for example, includes many of the same TVs its advertising as Black Friday deals in its stores (plus shipping for 97 cents on many models). Also, some retailers will have online exclusives you couldn’t get walking into one of its retail locations.
Finally, while many of the retailers' Black Friday ads are now out, search the Black Friday websites, such as bfads.net, blackfriday.info, theblackfriday.com, and gottadeal.com for comprehensive listings of deals. Some sites allow you to filter your searches by product categories, such as TVs.
Here are some of the best deals we've seen on plasma sets. We've also filed a separate blog outlining LCD bargains.
42-inch plasma TVs
Who ever thought $500 would be a key price point for a 42-inch plasma? But that’s exactly what’s happened heading into this holiday buying season. Just this week, Samsung cut prices across several models, including some plasmas, through November 30th. That means they’re not only widely available, but also that it’s possible you can get one now and avoid the Black Friday crush. For example, Samsung’s PN42B400 720p set is about $550 at Best Buy, Sears and Walmart (Best Buy and Walmart are typically shaving $2 off the price offered at Sears). H.H. Gregg has Panasonic's 720p TC-P42X1 for $570. If you want to go even cheaper, you can probably get a 42-inch 720p plasma for less than $500 if you’re willing to accept a lesser-known brand. Sears has Zenith’s 720p Z42PO2 set for $500 (the same price as on Halloween), and Walmart is pricing Emerson’s 42-inch 720p plasma (PL-P42W-10A) for $448, though it’s available only from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday.
50-inch plasma TVs
Budget-minded shoppers looking to go a bit bigger could consider Samsung’s 50-inch 720p PN50B430 set, which is priced at about $700 at Best Buy, Sears and Walmart (it’s one of the Samsung price-cut models). Walmart will also have Sanyo’s 50-inch 720p plasma (DP50719) at $598.
Those looking for a 50-inch plasma set with 1080p resolution can get Samsung’s PN50B530S2F for about $900, also at Best Buy and Sears. If you’re willing to spend more for a fully featured model from a major brand, Amazon.com has several deals on Panasonic’s step-up G10-series 1080p plasmas. The 42-inch model (TC-P42G10) is $916.42, the 46-inch set (TC-P46G10) is $1,135.85, and the 50-inch version (TC-P50G10) is now $1,109.88. The latter set was just reduced from the $1,384.88 price it carried when I first added it to my cart. Sears has Panasonic’s 54-inch plasma set (TC-P54G10) for $1,500. Also check out Abe’s of Maine, which has deals on a number of step-up models, including Pioneer’s well-regarded 60-inch Kuro PDP-6020FD—a set we keep in our labs as a black-level benchmark— which is priced at $3,600. As Pioneer exited the TV business earlier this year—though it's pledged to continue to support them with service—these sets will be increasingly difficult to find going forward.
We didn't see as many deals on very large sets, but we did notice that H.H. Gregg will have a 65-inch 1080p plasma from Panasonic—the TC-P65S1—for $2,500. That set is now generally selling for anywhere from $2,700 to $3,000.
As we mentioned, we'll also file a separate post on Black Friday LCD TV deals. Check back in for any subsequent updates. —James K. Willcox
Related: "Black Friday LCD TVs: Where to get the best deals"