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Walmart Black Friday TV deals kick off on Thanksgiving

Consumer Reports News: November 09, 2012 09:38 AM

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In what is often seen as a bellwether for holiday sales pricing, Walmart has released its Black Friday ad, and TVs once again feature prominently. This year, Walmart will open its doors for Black Friday shopping at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving—2 hours earlier than last year—and it will roll out sales serially, with toys and video-game bargains kicking off in the 8 o'clock slot, and TV and other electronics going on sale at 10 p.m.

For those who always seem to always miss out on doorbuster specials because the limited supplies run out before they get a chance to buy, Walmart says it will guarantee the availability of three of the specials—a $148 32-inch Emerson TV, the Apple iPad 2 (plus a $75 gift card, for $399), and a $38 LG Blu-ray player—for customers in line at the stores between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Should any of those items sell out before 11 p.m, customers in line will get a Walmart Guarantee Card that promises to have the item shipped to the store for pickup before Christmas. But the item has to be paid for by midnight and registered online, the company said in a press statement.

We've already reported on Black Friday sales ads from Amazon, Best Buy, and Sears. Like those companies, Walmart is featuring a good number of TVs in its Black Friday ad, ranging from a 24-inch Orion-brand 720p LCD TV for $78 to a 60-inch Vizio 1080p LCD TV for $688.

Walmart will have several Emerson-brand TVs on sale. The 32-inch 720p LCD TV, mentioned above, is a 60Hz set with two HDMI inputs priced at $148. For just $50 more ($198) you can get a 40-inch 1080p Emerson LCD TV. It, too, is a 60Hz set, with three HDMI inputs. For those looking for a bigger set, a 50-inch Emerson 1080p LCD is priced at $298. The TV, model LC501EM3, is a 60Hz set with three HDMI inputs. These models are all available starting at 10 p.m.

Vizio TVs are usually available at Walmart, but we saw only one model advertised as a Black Friday special. The good news is that it's a full-featured 60-inch 1080p LCD TV (model E601iA3), priced at just $688. The set—which has an edge LED backlight, 120Hz technology, built-in Wi-Fi, and access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix, Vudu and other services—is currently selling for $988, making for a not-so-shabby $300 price cut.

Samsung also makes a good showing in Walmart's circular. There's a basic 32-inch 720p 60Hz LCD, model UN32EH4003, priced at $248. Spending $398 can get you a 39-inch 1080p LCD TV (model UN39EH5003), which has an LED backlight and 120Hz technology. (This set is available starting on Friday.) Both are one-off models created specifically for Black Friday sales by Samsung's authorized dealers.

Those looking for more features, including Internet TV, might be interested in Samsung's 46-inch UN46EH5300, priced at $598. This set, a 60Hz model, has an LED backlight and Samsung's Smart TV platform, with built-in Wi-Fi, a full Web browser, and access to streaming movies and TV shows from several services.

This 46-inch 1080p LCD TV from Samsung offers excellent high-definition picture quality and very good sound, though its motion-blur performance was below that of most sets. (The TV has a 60Hz refresh rate, plus backlight scanning for a 120Hz effect.) It includes a "direct-lit" LED backlight (which has fewer LEDs than pricier full-array models with local dimming), built-in Wi-Fi, and Samsung's Smart TV platform, which includes a full Web browser, an apps market, and access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows from Blockbuster, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Vudu. This model, which is included in our current TV Ratings (available to subscribers), is now selling for close to $800 at several retailers.

If plasma TVs are more your thing, Walmart has two Samsung Black Friday specials, in 43- and 51-inch screen sizes. No model numbers or additional information was provided, but given the prices—$378 and $478, respectively—we assume these are basic 720p models.

For those looking for the biggest sets from a manufacturer not named Vizio, Walmart has 60- and 70-inch 1080p LCD TVs from Sharp. Priced at $998, the 60-inch set, model LC-60LE600U is a relatively basic set with 120Hz technology and an LED backlight. The similarly configured bigger brother (LC-70LE600U 70) will sell for $1,798. Both models go on sale on Friday morning at 5 a.m.

If you're looking for a companion for your new TV, Walmart is offering LG's BP125 Blu-ray player for $38. It's a fairly basic model without access to streaming services such as Netflix, and it's been mainly available overseas, though it appears to be in stock online from Sam's Club for $90. This is one of the items eligible for the in-stock guarantee.

Besides its in-store sales, Walmart may offer additional online-only specials during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping period. Keep checking back for our Black Friday updates: As we did last year, we'll be monitoring the best TV deals we see.

Black Friday sales advertisement
Walmart "Guarantees" Customers its Best Black Friday Ever

James K. Willcox

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