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Black Friday TVs: Walmart, Target, Best Buy get down low

Consumer Reports News: November 11, 2011 11:45 AM

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Just a few days ago, we offered our predictions of the kinds of HDTV prices we’d see during this year's Black Friday shopping weekend, and for the most part, we were on the money. But based on Walmart's Black Friday ad, Best Buy's Black Friday circular, and a Black Friday preview ad from Target, prices on some TVs may be even lower than we initially thought.

For example, we predicted we'd see $200 32-inch LCD TVs this year. Walmart will be offering a 32-inch Emerson—a bare-bones 720p set—for just $188. Target so far hasn't announced anything priced lower, but like Walmart will have a basic 32-inch 720p Samsung LCD set for $278. Best Buy will offer a 32-inch 720p Dynex LCD set with an LED backlight as part of an online-only sale, but the price wasn't revealed.

If you're looking for a bigger set, there's a surprising amount of promotional activity around sets in the 40- to 42-inch range, where we expected to see a number of $300 sets. But Walmart will have a 40-inch 1080p Emerson LCD TV for $248. Target is countering with a 40-inch 1080p Element (model ELDFT404) for $265. Walmart will also have a 40-inch 1080p Samsung LCD TV for $428.00, and a 43-inch Samsung 720p plasma for $398.00. Perhaps the best deal we've seen will be a 42-inch 1080p Sharp LCD TV for $200, offered as a doorbuster special. The store will also have a 42-inch 1080p LCD TV from LG—a 120Hz model with an LED backlight—for $550 and a 40-inch 1080p Samsung for $430.

Want to go even bigger? Then just $300 could yield a 46-inch 1080p Westinghouse (model) VR-4625 at Target, which is pricing that TV at $298, the lowest price we’ve ever seen for a set this size. We didn't see anything comparable at Walmart, but that retailer will have a 51-inch 720p plasma from Samsung for $498, and a 46-inch 1080p LCD TV from the same brand for $598. Over at Best Buy, you'll be able to get a 50-inch 1080p plasma TV from Panasonic (model TC-P30S30) for $600, or a 46-inch 720p Panasonic plasma for $400.

For those looking at the biggest-screen sets, say 55 inches or larger, Walmart and Best Buy are better bets than Target. Walmart will have a 55-inch 1080p LCD TV from LG—a step-up model with 120Hz anti-blur technology and an LED backlight—for $898. And just $100 more could get you a mammoth 65-inch 1080p Toshiba LCD TV with 120Hz technology, which is sale priced at $998.00. Best Buy will have a 55-inch 1080p Dynex (with 120Hz technology) or $600, an a 60-inch 1080p Sharp with 120Hz technology ((LC-60E70U) for just $800. Quantities will be limited, however.

If a 3D TV is on your radar, Walmart is bundling a 47-inch LG passive 3D TV (a Cinema 3D-series model with 120Hz technology and an LED backlight) with an LG 3D Blu-ray Player and 3D glasses, all for $799. We saw a bundle earlier this year—presumably the same one—at both Amazon and Best Buy for just over $1,000. For those on a tighter budget, Walmart will also have a full-featured 42-inch 1080p Vizio (a step-up passive 3D model with 240Hz technology and an LED backlight) for $598. That set comes with four pairs of polarized 3D glasses.

But even if your TV budget is only $100, you'll find something to buy during this year’s Black Friday sales. Walmart will have a 19-inch 720p Sansui LCD TV for $98, while Best Buy will do even better, offering a 24-inch 1080p LCD TV—from Dynex, a Best Buy house brand—for just $80 as one of its doorbuster specials.

Of course, visiting stores during Black Friday—some of which will open at 12:01 a.m. on Friday this year—isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Just remember that many of these same retailers will be offering online specials throughout the Black Friday weekend.

If you’ll be looking for a TV during this year’s event, let us know which deals you've seen are the most compelling. And remember to check out our earlier blog post about 12 Black Friday shopping tips to help you get the best deal for your money.

BlackFriday.Info: Leaked Target Black Friday ad

James K. Willcox

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