Free shipping is often what's expected when it comes to buying online, but that isn't always the case when it comes to massive pieces of electronics like HDTVs. So before you go nuts for what looks like a great deal, make sure to check if it comes with free shipping or that special may appear a little less great when you sum all the costs. (The same holds for sales tax.)
Case in point: Tiger Direct has the Panasonic Viera TC-P50X1 plasma for "just" $699.99, which looks like a good deal for a 50-inch 720p set. But once you factor in the $99.99 shipping charge (not to mention sales tax in Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina), that price jumps above what you can get the TV for via Newegg (about $40 less, which includes sales tax and free shipping). On the other hand, you can purchase its little brother, the 42-inch TC-P42X1, for about $100 less at Dell.com than Newegg's price.
So are there any good TV deals being advertised this week? While Crutchfield is hyping $450 off the Sony Bravia KDL-46S5100 46-inch 1080p setpricing it at $1,079.99you can get it on Sony's own site for more than $100 less, even factoring in sales tax. If you're looking for another 46-inch option, J&R.com has the Sharp Aquos LC-46E77U 1080p 120Hz LCD for $899. Even after factoring a hefty shipping fee, it's still more than $400 cheaper than buying it at Newegg. Target has a 42-inch 1080p Philips 42PFL3704D/F7 LCD for $679.99, but you can save at least $50 (depending on the sales tax rung up by your local Target) by buying it at Amazon.com.
Sears also has a good price on a 42-inch 1080p plasma, the Panasonic TC-P42S1, which costs $699.99. Depending, once again, on your state's sale tax, you can save around $30 over buying it at Dell, and you get the instant gratification of taking it home right away. On the other hand, you can spend about $250 less buying the Samsung PN58B650 58-inch plasma at Amazon than at Sears (where the "closeout" price is $2,039.99).
Finally, let's get to this weekend's Best Buy circular, which touts offers of a free Samsung 2.1 channel sound bar home theater system with select Samsung LED TVs. The bundle price is more or less a wash with just buying the two items separately by doing some online comparison shopping, but if you need the set NOW and also need a speaker system, it's a compelling deal. There's a similar deal on the Bravia KDL-46V5100, though the bundle includes a Blu-ray player, for a $1,199.98 price, which looks pretty good since Newegg sells the set alone for $1,139. And that Bravia KDL-46S5100 is $899.99 if you want it at home now.