By Sam Mattera, The Motley Fool
TVs stand out as one of the premiere, big-ticket items of Black Friday. Even Kohl's (KSS), a store known for its clothing (not electronics), will have a few in stock that day, in an attempt to lure in a few extra bargain hunters.
With so many different stores running specials, and all the different models on sale, there are literally dozens of different Black Friday TVs to choose from. While there are plenty of great deals available, a few stand out as being particularly noteworthy.
Head to Walmart for the All-Around Cheapest Flat-Screen TV
Walmart (WMT) will be selling a 32-inch LED Funai for just $98, making it one of the very cheapest TVs on sale this year. Discriminating buyers, however, should likely stay away -- Funai isn't in the same league as Sony (SNE) or Panasonic (PCRFY) when it comes to picture quality, and this particular set is just 720p (in contrast to full-HD 1080p). If you've never heard of Funai, the company generally sells its TVs under the Sylvania and Magnavox brands, two budget names not exactly known for their quality.
Nevertheless, $98 for a 32-inch LED is hard (perhaps impossible) to beat. Shoppers looking for the cheapest flat-screen they can get their hands on should plan to be at Walmart Thanksgiving night.
For a Great Deal on a Quality Samsung, Hit h.h. gregg
At h.h. gregg (HGG), they'll also be offering a 32-inch LED, but unlike Walmart's Funai deal, this is on a model known for its quality. The set, Samsung's UN32EH5300, was declared one of the best 32-inch LCD TVs you can buy by LCD TV Buying Guide for 2012. It sports full-HD 1080p, and comes equipped with Samsung's smart TV suite -- owners can access digital content from sites like Netflix (NFLX) and Youtube.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%h.h. gregg will sell the TV for $299.99, what it claims is a 33 percent discount. Right now, Amazon (AMZN) is charging about $330 for the TV as part of its "Countdown to Black Friday" sale, making the h.h. gregg discount closer to 10 percent. (Oops. Just checked back on Amazon and now the TV is selling at $297.99 at Amazon. Lesson learned: Up until the moment you hand over your credit card, keep comparison shopping.)
This Set Comes with a Sound Bar
In terms of discounts, BJ's Wholesale has one of the best: It will sell an LG 47-inch LED for $580, about 30 percent off its regular price. Even Amazon can't come close -- it charges nearly $70 more.
LG is considered a respectable TV brand, but the set in question (the 47LN5790) is a budget model that hasn't been reviewed by the big websites. Still, it offers 1080p and smart TV functionality. Most interesting, it comes packaged with a separate sound bar, an accessory that's practically become a necessity in the age of paper-thin TVs with low-quality speakers. Even entry-level sound bars retail for about $100. So factor that into your buying decision.
The Best Deal on the Biggest Screen?
In addition to selling the cheapest TV overall, Walmart will also offer the cheapest large TV -- a massive 70-inch, 1080p Vizio for $998. Like the Samsung and LG sets, it also includes smart TV functionality, giving owners access to Netflix and Hulu without having to attach an external media player.
Walmart claims buyers will be saving $700 on the set; indeed, Amazon charges about $1,700 for the TV. In terms of reviews, the reception has only been lukewarm -- PC Mag gave it just 3.5 stars out of 5, lamenting its modest black levels. Nevertheless, shoppers looking for an enormous TV at a rock-bottom price will be hard pressed to find a better deal.
Shopping for a Screen, From Your Screen
Those looking to stay home on Friday, but who still want to buy a TV on the cheap, should browse over to Dell's website. In addition to its own PCs, Dell will be selling a 50-inch, 1080p Sharp for just $498. Normally, that TV retails for closer to $700.
Unfortunately, it's just a mid-range set, with a 60Hz refresh rate, making it less than ideal for watching sports or playing video games. But of the deals that have been announced, it's one of the best ones among online retailers.
Online shoppers, however, should keep their eyes on Amazon. Though it doesn't preannounce its specials, come Friday, it's likely to have a competitive slate of products -- including TVs -- on sale.
Buying a TV on BlackFriday
Of course, these are just a small sampling of the deals available; other retailers, including Sears (SHLD), Best Buy (BBY), and Target (TGT), have an extensive lineup of TVs on sale. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference -- are you aiming for the largest TV possible? The cheapest price? Are you willing to pay a little more for a set that's higher quality?
Perhaps most important, with retailers' limited inventory, will you be lucky enough to get one?
By Sam Mattera, The Motley Fool