4 Ways to Save on Holiday HDTVs

Looking for a new HDTV? You're not the only one—so if you're planning on entering the Black Friday fray, plan ahead.

Begin your plan of attack by scanning retailer ads on Black Friday sites such as blackfriday.gottadeal.com. Note any restrictions posted by the retailer such as purchase limits, special hours for doorbuster sales or tickets that are handed out prior to the store opening for those waiting in line.

For instance, Best Buy will begin passing out tickets at 3 a.m. for its doorbuster items, including a $700 Panasonic 50-inch 1080p plasma HDTV–that's $300 off the regular price

Retailers typically mark down older models to make way for new shipments scheduled for January. Don't expect discounts on Internet-connected or 3-D TVs, but you will find big savings on brand name basic HDTVs.

With the exception of doorbusters, expect deals on HDTVs right up to New Year's Eve.

Spot trade-offs and save

Low refresh rate: Most sale-priced TVs have a 60 hertz refresh rate, which is fine for the casual viewer, according to Consumer Reports. Compared to 120Hz or even 240Hz, viewers may notice a slight blur when watching fast action scenes or a bit of a judder on a slow pan scene. Tip: If the refresh rate isn't listed, it's 60Hz.

Smaller size: Retailers are slashing prices on smaller models as the demand has waned in the wake of falling prices for larger displays. This year you'll find a Vizio 37-inch 1080p HDTV for under $400 at Target and Walmart.

Lower resolution: Both 720p and 1080p screen resolutions are classified as high definition, but 1080p is considered full HD, meaning the display consists of the maximum number of pixels available. Manufacturers are phasing out 720p models and they'll be priced to move. In sizes under 42-inches, the difference is imperceptible to the viewer. You'll find a Samsung 32-inch 720p HDTV for around $330, a price previously seen only on lower end brands.

Plasma: Home theater enthusiasts prefer plasma technology for its ability to offer richer displays with deeper blacks, but the trend has been for lighter weight, ultra-slim TVs, where LCD technology excels. If you can bear an extra inch or so of depth, look for a plasma HDTV. You'll find savings as much as 40 percent over a comparably sized LCD TV. For instance, Sears is offering a Panasonic 58-inch 1080p HDTV for $1,100; a 60-inch Samsung or Sony LCD HDTV will run about twice that on sale.

And if you can't imagine going shopping at 5:00 a.m., you'll find comparable deals online and extend your product pool. Walmart announced free shipping on most items last week and both Amazon and Best Buy have matched the offer, which can save $50 or more. TV deliveries are scheduled by the shipper and unboxing is usually included. All you'll need is a big red bow.

Leslie Meredith
Leslie Meredith is a contributor to Live Science. She has a bachelor's degree from UCLA in psychology and has directed tourism and ski publications for the Salt Lake Visitor & Convention Bureau and managed promotions and events for Sunset Magazine.