Go Small: How to Save Big on a Smaller HDTV
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
October 10 2011 03:43 PM ET
CREDIT: Samsung Electronics
Smaller HDTVs are predicted to be one of the best values this holiday season. Black Friday sites across the Internet predict that 42-inch LCD TVs could be priced as low as $300 and 32-inch models may be found for around $200.
Bargains on smaller HDTVs will be plentiful this year, according to one of the larger electronics deals sites, GottaDeal.com. “This could be the year that we see 32-inch LCD HDTVs break the $150 price barrier.” Expect to start seeing holiday specials in mid-October as retailers try to make up for this year’s lackluster sales so far.
Retailers are also expected to post deals in more places than in years past. “We also predict that stores will heavily embrace social networking this year as a part of their strategy for the holiday season,” GottaDeal advised. “Look for exclusive deals and contests to appear on stores’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.”
Shopping for a smaller TV is different than buying a big screen . Top-of-the-line specs are often wasted on smaller-sized TVs. And with a few additional money-saving tips, you could wind up with a pretty swanky entertainment set-up for under $500.
Save on specs
The difference between an HDTV with 720p resolution and one with 1080p will probably not be noticeable on a smaller set. These numbers represent the maximum lines of horizontal resolution that the TV can display at once and both are considered to be HD. The higher and more costly 1080p is the native resolution for Blu-ray movies. Even in side-by-side tests, experts have failed to notice a difference between 720p and 1080p HDTVs under 55 inches. If you find a 720p set that you like, don’t hesitate to buy it.
Most budget models will have a 60Hz refresh rate compared with a 120Hz refresh rate of higher-priced units. A more frequent refresh rate is designed to smooth out fast action scenes, but like full HD resolution, the difference is imperceptible on smaller screens.
Plasma HDTVs continue to offer a better value per square inch of screen size over LCD technology. Your best deal will most likely be a 42-inch plasma 720p HDTV. Don’t worry about refresh rate with plasma. Due to their inherent technology, plasma TVs have the equivalent rate of 600Hz.
“Plasma 720p HDTVs will be the best bargains,” according to “Swanni,” founder of TVPredictions.com in his story on Black Friday 2011. “Although TV makers now manufacture 1080p sets almost exclusively, there are still plenty of 720p sets sitting on shelves. The TV companies would like to get these sets out of the market once and for all.”
Avoid the frills
Don’t spring for a so-called smart TV when you’re on a budget. For instance, Samsung’s 32-inch top-of-the -line LED Smart TV will set you back $900 compared with Samsung’s 720p LCD with an MSRP of $350. The no-frills model still has two HDMI ports for accessories. You can add an Internet-connected set-top box for under $100, like the $60 Roku XD. This compact wireless box fits in the palm of your hand and adds much of the same content you’d get from integrated TV apps, including Netflix, Amazon On Demand, Pandora radio, games, Facebook and a selection of sports channels.
Consider buying a refurbished model to save around 20 percent off buying new. Manufacturers and retailers offering factory refurbished HDTVs usually offer the same warranty as they do on new models, but check before you buy.
You can also shop online and pick up at the store. Unless an online retailer offers free shipping, you will save money by picking it up yourself. Best Buy, Walmart and Target offer free shipping to stores where you can arrange to pick it up your new TV at your convenience and still take advantage of the wider selections available online. Note that Amazon offers free standard ground shipping on most items $25 or more.
Hiring an installer to mount a relatively small TV to the wall can double your cost: Local installers and Best Buy charge upward of $200 to mount a 42-inch or smaller TV. With an electric stud finder, a laser level, a drill and a helper, you can do this job yourself. Mounting kits come with an array of fittings to fit most TVs and are priced under $50.