With the Super Bowl upon us, you might be starting to look at your television, wishing for something with more oomph to make the biggest sporting event of the year really pop. Today's TV has evolved into a multipurpose device that can stream movies, browse the Web, and keep you connected to your social network of choice, so if your TV can't do all that, you ought to be on the look out for a new fully-equipped set — especially since it's a buyers market.
Since the Super Bowl is around the corner, and we recently just viewed a parade of new HDTVs at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we decided it was a good time to take a look at what kind of deals a tech enthusiast/sports fan can expect to find on modern-day HDTVs. With a focus on what screen sizes are seeing the best discounts, we've combed through every HDTV deal posted in the past year to find out. Below are the results, and note that you can enlarge each chart by clicking on it.
42" 1080p LCD HDTVs
While the TV industry is focusing on 55" sets and beyond, it's the humble 42" set that's seeing the biggest discounts. In 2011, 42" TVs dropped a whopping 53% in price, hitting an unprecedented $189 price point. Budget-minded shoppers looking to buy a new HDTV should look no further — here's where you'll find the best deals.
Brand Name vs. Generic: Name brand TVs dropped 55%; generic TV sets dropped 52%.
Price to Buy: Although we saw a 42" set go for as low as $189 over the holidays, it's still not common to find a 42" HDTV set priced that cheaply. Instead, we recommend keeping your eyes peeled for models at $349 or lower, which is still an unbelievably low price for these TVs.
46" 1080p LCD HDTVs
46" HDTVs are in an awkward position. They're too small to run with the 50"+ crowd, but they're too big to be considered entry-level sets. It's for that reason that we noticed a scarcity of deals on 46" sets in 2011. As a result, prices in this category fell the least — a modest 20%.
Name Brand vs. Generic: Name brand TVs dropped 11%; generic TV sets dropped 29%.
Price to Buy: Third-tier 46" LCD HDTVs have been hovering in the $400 price range since May of 2011. If you see a deal at $450 or below, we suggest going for it. As far as brand name TVs are concerned, anything below $575 would offer the most savings.
55" 1080p LCD HDTVs
Although they were once considered the epitome of HDTVs, 55" sets are taking a backseat to even larger 60" sets. For the consumer, that's good news as we saw prices on 55" HDTVs drop 36% — the second lowest drop of the bunch.
Name Brand vs. Generic: Name brand TVs dropped 30%; generic TV sets dropped 43%.
Price to Buy: More deals on 55" HDTVs translate to better prices. For generic sets, we recommend looking for deals at $700 and under. Brand-name sets will cost you roughly $100 more, as we frequently see them reach the $800 mark.
60" 1080p LCD HDTVs
This past holiday season we saw a variety of 60" sets on sale, making the 60" HDTV the new holy grail of home theater. In 2011, prices on these televisions dropped 33%. However, the majority of the deals came from generic manufacturers, as name-brand HDTVs in this category are usually still in the $1,200+ range.
Name Brand vs. Generic: N/A
Price to buy: Since August of 2011, 60" LCD HDTVs have remained under a grand, so we're recommending buying any 60" set you see at $979 or under.
LCD technology may be enjoying its time in the limelight, but don't count plasma out just yet. In fact, 60" plasma HDTVs dropped 37% in 2011. Buyers looking to maximize their dollar should look for prices between $800 and $960. Even better news: most 60" plasma TVs are made by brand-name manufacturers. So if you have your eyes on a big-screen TV, you'll save a considerable amount of money by going plasma.
The Bottom Line
Selecting a new HDTV should not be an impulse buy. Keep track of features you want in a home theater system and be sure to measure for the appropriate size HDTV for your space. If you're looking for the absolute hottest deals, turn to 42" LCD HDTVs. Deals on these sets are bountiful, and we're seeing new lows each month. For consumers who already own an HDTV, well, there's never been a more affordable time to own two.
Sports fans who want a more immersive experience however should skip the 46" set and upgrade to 55" or 60", assuming you have the space. Our deals archive shows that you'll find better bargains on these sets (for what you're getting) than on 46" sets. We also expect the number of sales on 55" and 60" sets to increase throughout the coming year.
Check out our Super Bowl deals section or set up a customized email alert for the TV and price of your choice.
Top photo credit: Light Innovations