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Black Friday 2011: 10 best TV deals

Consumer Reports News: November 21, 2011 10:08 AM

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With Black Friday now just days away, those of us looking to get a new HDTV for the holidays might be starting to narrow down the choices. We've seen a number of great deals being offered for the event, but we also believe that TV promotions will continue right through the new year, so don't be discouraged if you miss out on a Black Friday special.

In fact, based on a recent analysis we did with the price-prediction website, in a significant number of instances the lowest prices of the season were offered not on Black Friday or Cyber Monday but later in the year. Still, if you do intend to do some TV shopping on Black Friday this year, here are 10 deals that caught our attention:

1. Sharp 42-inch 1080p LCD TV (LC-42SV49U), $200 at Best Buy. Not surprising, given its shockingly low price, this is a doorbuster special from Best Buy, available in limited quantities at store locations. This is a fairly basic 1080p LCD set, though it does have four HDMI inputs. Sharp has been a somewhat inconsistent performer in our Ratings, but it's still hard to beat a TV that's priced like a microwave oven.

2. Westinghouse 46-inch 1080p LCD TV (VR-4625), $298 at Target. Westinghouse TVs have typically been among the lower-ranked sets in our Ratings, but this fairly basic model—a 60Hz set with a CCFL (fluorescent) backlight—might be just the ticket for budget-conscious shoppers looking for a TV for a secondary room of the house.

3. Vizio 47-inch 3D LCD TV (XVT3D474SV), $938 at Amazon. This 47-inch 3D TV from Vizio is loaded with features, including a full-array LED backlight with local dimming, the equivalent of 480Hz technology, built-in dual-band Wi-Fi, and Vizio's VIA suite of Internet apps and services, including streaming movies and TV shows. The set is a passive-3D model and comes with four sets of lightweight polarized glasses.

4. Dynex 55-inch 1080 LCD TV (DX-55L150A11), $600 at Best Buy. This might be an appealing option for those looking for a larger set with a few extra features, such as 1080p resolution and 120Hz anti-blur technology. It has four HDMI inputs, which are also a plus. Dynex TVs have done well in our TV Ratings, generally offering very good overall performance at a fairly low price.

5. Samsung 51-inch 720p plasma (PN51D430), $498 at Walmart. This is a basic 720p plasma from a brand that has typically done well in the CR TV Ratings. It uses the company's narrow-bezel "Plus One" design to squeeze an extra inch of screen. (Sears is selling this TV for just one dollar more as part of its early CyberMonday sale today.)

6. Zenith 50-inch 1080p plasma (Z50PV220), $500 at Sears. We've seen plasma TVs at this price, but seldom a 1080p model. For the past two years, Sears and Kmart have been rolling out low-priced Black Friday sets bearing the Zenith brand, and this year is no exception. It's a basic 1080p plasma.

7. Panasonic 46-inch 720p plasma TV (TC-P46X3), $400 from Best Buy. Like Samsung's, Panasonic plasmas typically do very well in our TV Ratings, and we purchased this set earlier this year for more than $600. Despite its lower resolution, it has a good number of features, including the ability to accept an optional Wi-Fi adapter and Panasonic's EZ IPTV Internet platform, with access to streaming movies and TV shows.

8) Emerson 32-inch 720p LCD TV (LC320EM1-SF), $188 at Walmart. this is a very basic 720p LCD TV from Emerson, a brand controlled by Funai. It might be a good choice for those looking to outfit a spare bedroom or guest room with a basic, low-priced set. We've seen this set for close to $350 on various sites. Walmart will also have a 40-inch Emerson set for $248.

9. LG 47-inch 3D LCD TV and Blu-ray player bundle, $799 at Walmart. Walmart has created a 3D package consisting of LG's 47LW5300 1080p 3D LCD TV, plus an unnamed 3D Blu-ray player and four sets of lightweight polarized glasses. The TV, which uses passive 3D technology, has a decent number of features, including an edge LED backlight and a 120Hz refresh rate, but it doesn't include the company's Smart TV Internet platform. If you're looking to go bigger, both Amazon and Walmart have a similar bundle with LG's 55-inch 55LW5300 3D set for just under $1,250.

10. Three big-screen specials at Best Buy and Walmart, $800 to $1,000. Here are three options for those looking for very big TVs:

  • Sharp 60-inch 1080p LCD TV (LC60E79U), $800 Best Buy. A major-brand 120Hz set.

  • Westinghouse 60-inch 1080p LCD TV VR-6025Z), $800 at Best Buy. Normally this 120Hz set is $1,000.

  • Toshiba 65-inch 1080p LCD TV (65HT2U), $998 at Walmart. A 120Hz set that, based on our experience with the Toshiba TVs in our Ratings, would benefit greatly from an external sound system.

These are just some of the best deals we've seen offered for Black Friday, so let us know what's on your radar this year. To make the most of these, and other, specials, make sure you read our blog with 12 tips for getting the best Black Friday deals. And remember that the cheapest TV doesn't always mean it's the best deal. Since you'll likely own the set for a good number of years, make sure you one that really fits your needs.

James K. Willcox

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