Are the Best Buy Black Friday Samsung, Panasonic and LG TV deals better than Walmart's?

Best Buy rolls out a ton of brand-name TV deals, but the savings may not be quite what they seem

Published: November 13, 2014 10:30 AM
Will a $200 50-inch TV get you into a Best Buy Black Friday line?

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While many of the TV sales events leading up to Black Friday featured low-priced sets from secondary brands, Best Buy is rolling out the major brands to entice shoppers into its store starting at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving night. That sale starts a full hour before Walmart's Black Friday event, which we reported on earlier.

So which retailer has the best deals?

Based on the sheer volume of sets on sale, we give the edge to Best Buy. Among its "doorbuster" specials: the 50-inch Panasonic TC-50A400U 1080p LED/LCD TV, a basic 60Hz set with two HDMI inputs, priced at $200. That’s about $300 less than its regular selling price, and $18 below Walmart's unnamed 50-inch 1080p LED/LCD sets, which will actually be from more than one brand.

Other Best Buy doorbuster deals include:

  • A 55-inch Samsung UHD TV, model UN55HU6830FXZA, a 120Hz smart TV that will be available for $900
  • The 55-inch LG 55LB5900, priced at $480, a 1080p 120Hz set that doesn’t have many other features
  • A 50-inch Vizio M502I-B1, a 240Hz smart TV set in the company’s step-up M series, for $500
  • A 29-inch Insignia 720p 60Hz LCD TV, model NS-29D310NA15, for $100

According to Best Buy, savings on those sets will range from about $70 to $500.

But while there's a broad assortment of sets on sale and prices are attractive, we don't think any trump the 65-inch 1080p Vizio smart TV that Walmart will have for just under $650. If, as we think, it's the E650i-B2, that's well below its current $1,100 price. We just finished testing this set, and it is a full-featured TV with excellent high-definition picture quality.

In addition to these doorbusters, Best Buy will also have a “Beat the Black Friday Rush” event, offering six special deals over the course of three days (Nov. 20-22 ). Although specific model numbers and prices haven't yet been released, the sale includes a 60-inch 120HZ Sony smart TV and a 40-inch Westinghouse 60Hz 1080p set.

UHD sets

TVs are also a focal point of Best Buy's Black Friday weekend sales event. If you're in the market for a higher-resolution UHD (4K) set, Best Buy has several models from multiple brands on sale. All are 55-inch 120Hz smart TV models, which is on the smaller side for a UHD TV. They include:

  • Samsung UN55HU7250FXZA, a curved UHD TV, for $1,300
  • LG 55UB8200 for $1,300
  • Sony XBR55X850B, in its entry-level 4K series, for $1,500
  • Vizio P552UI-B2, a P-series model, priced at $1,300

Again, based on its own comparative prices, Best Buy claims savings from $100 to $1,500, depending on the set.

Find the right TV for your needs and budget with our TV buying guide and Ratings. And learn best places to shop for best places to shop for electronics. Visit our Holiday Gift Ideas page for more news on deals and advice on ways to save.

Larger 1080p models

You'll have a lot to choose from if you're looking for a bigger 1080p model, a segment in which Samsung is easily the most prominent brand. Among the promoted Samsung TVs is a 65-inch 1080p smart 3D TV, model UN65H7150AFXZA, for $1,498. It normally sells for $2,100. Other larger-sized models in the same series include a 60-inch (UN60H7150AFXZA) set for $1,298, normally $1,700, and a 55-inch version (UN55H7150AFXZA) for $998 instead of $1,700. An even less expensive 55-inch Samsung—the UN55H6203, a 120Hz 1080p smart TV—will be on sale for $600 instead of its regular $1,000 price.

There are a ton of sales on big-screen sets 60 inches and above, from brands including LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony. They include:

  • Samsung's 60-inch 120Hz 1080p LED/LCD smart TV, model UN60H6203AFXZ for $800
  • LG's 65-inch 1080p LED/LCD (65LB5200) for $800
  • Sharp's 60-inch Aquos 1080p LED/LCD smart TV (model LC-60LE644) for $700 
  • a 60-inch Sony 120Hz smart LED/LCD TV, model KDL-60R510A for $800
  • Sharp's 70-inch LC-70TQ15U, a 240Hz 1080p smart LED/LCD TV for $1,800

Best Buy claims that savings on those sets range from $200 to $1,000.

Midsized sets

For those looking for a TV between 40 and 55 inches, Best Buy has these sets, in descending size order.

  • A 55-inch Panasonic 120Hz smart LED/LCDTV, model TC-55AS530U, for $600
  • A 55-inch LG 120Hz 1080p LED/LCD smart TV, model 55LB6300, for $780
  • A 50-inch Sharp 1080p LED/LCD TV, model LC-50LB261U, for $400
  • A 49-inch 1080p LED/LCD TV from LG, model 49LB5550, for $400
  • A 46-inch Samsung 60Hz 1080p LED/LCD TV, model UN46EH5000FXZA, for $400
  • A 40-inch Samsung 120Hz 1080p LED/LCD smart TV, model UN40H6203AFXZA, for $380

If you’re willing to consider a secondary brand, there’s a 40-inch 60Hz 1080p Insignia LCD TV—the NS-40D510NA15, from Best Buy’s house brand—for $180.

Savings range from $180 to $400 on those sets, Best Buy says.

Smaller-sized TVs

Those with smaller rooms might be interested in sets 32 inches or smaller. They include:

  • A 32-inch Samsung 60Hz 720p LED/LCD TV (UN32EH4003FXZ) for $200
  • A 32-inch Samsung 60Hz 1080p LED/LCD TV (UN32EH5000FXZA) for $228
  • A 32-inch Samsung 60Hz 108op LED/LCD smart TV (UN32H5203AFXZA) for $248
  • A 32-inch LG 720p LED/LCD TV (32LB520B) for $180
  • A 32-inch Sony 60Hz 720p LED/LCD TV (KDL-32R330B) for $190
  • A 24-inch Samsung 60Hz 720p LED/LCD TV (model UN24H4000AFXZ) for $128
  • A 24-inch Samsung 60Hz 720p smart TV LED/LCD TV (model UN24H4500AFXZA) for $150  

You can save $50 to $100 on those sets, Best Buy says.

Buyer beware

Although there are a lot of good deals in Best Buy's Black Friday lineup, be wary of claimed savings—based on our evaluation, they reflect the manufacturer's suggested retail prices, not the TV's real current selling price. Almost every set we checked can be purchased right now for less than Best Buy's claimed usual price.

For example, among the deals with the biggest savings is the $1,500 Sony XBR-55X850B; it's hard not to be impressed by a UHD being offered at what Best Buy claims is half its current price. But we see it at several places now—including Best Buy itself—for $1,800, so the sale price is really about a $300 savings. And that $900 price cut on Samsung's UN55HU7250FXZA curved UHD TV, sale priced at $1,300? It's available now for $1,300 to $1,500 at a few retailers, including—yes—Best Buy. And while the actual $500 savings on Sharp's 70-inch LC-70TQ15U smart LED/LCD TV (its Black Friday price of $1,800 compared to $2,300 currently at several retailers) is nothing to sneeze at, it's half the claimed $1,000 savings.  

One real deal: Panasonic’s 50-inch TC-50A400U 1080p LED/LCD TV, which if you can get one will cost just $200. That's legitimately $300 less than its regular selling price—and an even better deal than Walmart's $218 unnamed 50-inch 1080p LED/LCD set. Just remember that Best Buy's doorbuster policy is that there will be limited quantities of the set and no rain checks; you'll need to get a wristband, which will be handed out two hours before the store opens at 5 p.m. Thursday night. How early do you think you'll have to arrive to get one?

If you're looking for the best TV deals during Black Friday, keep checking back for all our Black Friday and holiday coverage, as we scour all the ads to uncover the best deals on the best sets. And right before Thanksgiving, we'll post our Top 10 Black Friday TV deals blog that will highlight the best bargains we find.

—James K. Willcox

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