How to Separate the HDTV Deals From the Duds
Black Friday is around the corner and we are already hearing about great HDTV deals for the holiday season. The problem is how do you tell if that HDTV deal is really a steal or a dud like an old model being passed off as a great deal. In this article we’ll look at some features to look for and some to avoid. We’ll also tell you about some resources that could help you tell if that Black Friday deal is really all that special.
Are There Good Deals on 3DTV Sets?
Yes, we know there are a lot of you out there who couldn’t be bothered with anything to do with 3DTV. After all, who wants to wear those expensive, goofy-looking glasses and besides, what’s there to watch? If you’re really dead set against 3DTV then don’t even consider a TV that offers 3D but with prices coming down and more content becoming available a good deal on a 3DTV would be a deal that includes at least two pairs of glasses with a Plasma or fast refresh rate (120Hz or greater) LCD (preferably LED backlit) TV.

Deal Advice: Either Plasma or LCD is okay – get the best price just make sure the deal includes a couple of pairs of glasses otherwise you’re going to be paying for them later

  Is There a Glasses Format War On the Horizon?: There are two main types of glasses used for quality 3D. Passive glasses are lighter, cheaper, don’t require batteries and can even be made with prescription lenses. Until recently they were typically only found in movie theaters and not in 3DTV sets however, passive glasses technology is starting to appear in sets from manufacturers like LG and Samsung. Experts like Ray Soneira argue that scientifically, passive 3DTV should look just as good, if not better than active glasses 3DTV sets but some reviewers disagree, preferring the picture quality of active 3DTV. Glasses-free 3DTV would obviously be the best option but problems with viewing angles and image quality are going to keep auto-stereoscopic 3DTV from being a realistic alternative for some time.  
Connecting to the Internet Through Another Device Might Be Cheaper
With most homes having a high speed Internet connection and a subscription to Netflix, a TV that connects to your home network makes a lot of sense. Not only can you stream movies, TV shows and even YouTube videos, you can listen to music on Pandora or add a webcam and make Skype video calls. If you can get a good deal on a connected TV, we say go for it. You’ll find that one with a built-in Wi-Fi connection is easiest to install and setup however if you find a good deal on an HDTV set without connectivity you can get the connectivity many other ways. Game consoles, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, AV receivers and other devices offer connectivity and HDMI connections to your TV which provides a very similar experience to having the connectivity built right into the TV. One disadvantage is you may have to switch remotes frequently which can become annoying.

Deal Advice: If you can get a good deal on a non-connected TV, you can always get your Internet connectivity through other devices like a Blu-ray player.

Plasma TVs vs. LCD TVs
Despite strong competition from LCD TVs, Plasma has managed to maintain a share of the TV market. Many viewers prefer the warm colors and deep blacks that Plasma has to offer. Plasma also has a very fast refresh rate that is very good at making 3D content look good. That’s why the Panasonic Plasma sets have enjoyed such popularity especially for 3D. At the same time LCD TVs have seen improvements like LED backlighting, fast refresh and better viewing angles that make them equally as good for viewing any content including 3D. This year we should see some good deals on both types of TV. Entry-level, large-screen Plasma sets can offer qualities similar to higher-end LCD TVs however we expect to see some good deals on LCD TVs with features like fast 120Hz refresh, edge-lit LED backlight, and possibly connectivity and 3D thrown in for good measure. Keep in mind that as attractive as Plasma TV deals may look, they still typically use more power and are heavier and bulkier than their LCD counterparts.

Deal Advice: The latest Plasma and LCD TVs are pretty similar so go ahead and buy either one that you can get a deal on.

What About 1080p Resolution?
Even though most HDTV sets now support 1080p in some cases you might be able to get by with 1080i or 720p resolution. First of all if the set is a 37-inch or smaller set most people can’t tell the difference between 1080p and 1080i. Second, if you are going to watch most programming from a cable or satellite connection keep in mind these providers transmit almost entirely in 1080i or 720p. The places we’re you’ll really want 1080p most is for Blu-ray movies or game consoles.

Deal Advice: You probably don’t want to go smaller than 37-inches for a killer deal on a non-1080p set.

Some Great Resources for Analyzing TV Deals
HDTV Model Decoder

Ever wonder what those complicated TV model numbers mean? It turns out there is a lot of very useful information embedded in them - you just need the magic decoder ring to extract it. It just so happens, Retrevo provides the Ring at no charge in the form of a decoder tool. You’ll also find lots of other valuable information about TV brands and the “unique” features they boast of. You can find the decoder here.
Shopping Club HDTV Decoder
Shopping clubs like Costco and Sams Club often sell TVs that have a slightly different model number from the sets you find elsewhere . Here’s a guide to translating those “special” sets to mainstream models so you can apply reviews and price comparisons to them.
More Tools to Evaluate Deals
Is that TV being offered at such a low price last year’s model? Retrevo’s life cycle chart can tell you how new or old a product is. You’ll find a life cycle chart for the products Retrevo lists in its catalog. The category for HDTV sets starts here.
What’s a Fair Price?

How can you tell if that sale price is genuinely low? Here’s a simple way to find out; the lower the sale price is to Retrevo’s “Fair Price,” the better the deal is. Retrevo looks at many data points to derive this price. If you find a highly recommended product offered for below the Fair Price, we say you should seriously consider buying it.
Did it Get Good Reviews?

Is someone trying to pass off an inferior HDTV set as a great deal? One of the most important considerations when looking for a good deal on an HDTV set is whether or not experts and users liked it. Retrevo looks at scores from user reviews and expert reviews and comes up with a thumb up/down summary.
More Than HDTVs at Retrevo
Don’t forget to check out Retrevo for reviews and manuals for all the latest gear and gadgets including tablets, cameras, HDTV, laptops, smartphone and more.

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