If you didn't need to buy a new HDTV in time to place a bow under it yesterday, you might be hoping that your patience will pay off in better deals now that Christmas is over. The first post-Xmas circular ads are out now for Best Buy, Sears, and Target: Do they respond to the inevitable after-holiday shopping slump with great deals? Or just more "deals"? Let's take a look.
Target. Unfortunately, Target's best deala 50-inch 1080p Panasonic plasma for $849is already sold out. As usual, the retailing giant only offers a couple of HDTV deals in its weekly ad, though that's better than Walmart's lack of after-Christmas specials in this department. The store with the red bullseye logo has a 32-inch 720p Samsung LN32B360 LCD for $449.99, which is $50 more expensive than at B&H Photo-Video-Audio's site. Likewise, if you want to move up to 1080p, the 37-inch 120Hz Vizio SV370VXT LCD is priced at $699.99 at Target, but you can grab it from Dell.com for $629. Finally, if you don't mind the second-tier Magnavox brand, you can pick up a 47-inch 1080p 47MF439D/F7 for $897. Though you can't find that model number online at all, it may be a good deal, since the 47-inch 47MF439B/F7 is $1,070.60 at Amazon and $1,158 at Walmart.com.
Sears. This bricks-and-mortar staple has a superior selection of HDTVs compared to Target, but does that equate to a superior place to purchase a new set? Starting from the smallest model, Sears has the 32-inch 720p Sony Bravia KDL-32L5000 LCD listed for $449.99, in line with Best Buy and Dell, but $50 more than at B&Hwith no tax and free shipping. Similarly, a 40-inch 1080p Sony KDL-40S5100 is priced at $749.99 at Sears, but is available online from several sources for $719.99, including from J&R with no tax and free shipping. Rounding out the Sony "sales," the 46-inch 1080p 120Hz Bravia KDL-46VE5, one of its new Eco models, is priced at $1,299.99, but B&H and Crutchfield, amongst other sites, offer it for $70 less with no tax and no charge for shipping.
You won't have much better luck with Sears' Samsung specials, including three plasma models. The best deal may be the 50-inch 720p PN50B450 at $849.99, though you can still get it at B&H for $50 less and no tax or shipping charges. If you go to Best Buy, you can get the 50-inch 1080p PN50B850 for $100 less than Sears' $1,589.99 price, and you can beat the $2,039.99 price for the 58-inch 1080p PN58B650 by $150 at pcRUSH.com, which throws in free shipping and doesn't charge sales tax.
More egregious, however, are Sears' prices for Samsung LED HDTVs, which are literally hundreds of dollars more than you can find online. The UN40B6000 is $1,599.99 (but $1,278.65including taxat BuyDig.com), the UN46B6000 is $1,849.99 (but $1,499.99 at Plasmahouse.com and $100 cheaper at Best Buy, Buy.com and Dell), and the UN55B6000 is $2,599.99 (but a whopping $400 cheaper at Crutchfield.) In sum, Sears is not the place to be for HDTVs this weekend.
Best Buy. Can the super chain help the consumer out better than Sears? Its "Hot Deal of the Week" is a 55-inch 1080p 120Hz Samsung LN55B640 LED set that's much more affordable at $1,599.99 than the UN55B6000, but it's also a Best Buy exclusive so you can't compare prices online. One thing that's changed since the previous week's sales is a dearth of bundles that made the prices more competitive compared to the online competition. Still, the Samsung PN58B550, a 58-inch 1080p plasma, is well priced at $1,599.99, or roughly $70 less than at Crutchfield, and the UN55B6000 is $130 cheaper than at Sears.
But online retailers have the upper hand against other sales, such as the Toshiba 47-inch 1080p 240Hz set, which is $1,299.99 at Best Buy but just $949.99 at Buy.com and TigerDirect.com sans tax and shipping. Best Buy is selling the 50-inch 720p Panasonic TC-P50X1 for $849.99, but you can get it from Dell or Newegg.com for $719.99, though each will charge for shipping. The Panasonic TC-42U1 42-inch 1080p plasmas is priced more competitively at $799.99. As for Sony HDTVs, Best Buy's current deals generally run a bit more than at online retailers, and there are no juicy bundles of a PS3 or home theater system to get buyers reaching for their wallets.
Overall, brick-and-mortar after-Christmas HDTV deals look pretty lackluster out of the gate. Will retailers start offering better deals next month when the Super Bowl edges closer? And if you're in the market for a new set, what kind of deals will it take to make you pull the trigger? Let us know in the TalkBack section.