Not up to the challenge of Black Friday shopping? Don't worry. Though you might miss out on a shot at those elusive $200 to $300 HDTVs, you'll still be able to find a good deal on a good television. That's because the inventory oversupply most likely will linger until January.
$200 HDTVs: Not for the Discriminating Shopper
If you're salivating at the prospect of a $200 no-name HDTV, don't feel bad. Outside of hardcore home-theater enthusiasts, most people simply try to buy the largest TV their budget allows, without thinking much about brand or extra features.
Nevertheless, just because you can buy a 32-inch TV for $200 doesn't mean you'll be happy with it after you bring it home. From what we've seen in the past, cheaper TVs can't hang with the established brands in side-by-side image comparisons. And you won't going to get desirable features like Internet streaming options, advanced image tweaking controls, or USB/SD card slots for looking at pictures or playing audio/video. You can still expect several HDMI, component, and composite video inputs, so all your existing home-theater devices should work fine with your new TV, though you might have compatibility issues with universal or nonstandard remote controls.
If you're not especially picky about color accuracy or motion blur, a cheaper TV can work well as a secondary TV--something the kids can use for playing video games, which typically have more saturated, cartoony colors than movies. Keep in mind that you're more likely to notice image quality problems in larger sets than in smaller ones, because the same image is displayed over a larger surface, making the flaws easier to spot. So you might find that a $300 32-inch set looks better than a $500 42-inch set because its imperfections are harder to spot.
Don't forget to read "10 Things You Need to Know Before Buying an HDTV" and our "HDTV Buying Guide: Making Sense of the Specifications" for more tips on picking the best TV for your budget. If the idea of assembling your own setup appeals to you, check out "Build a Better Home Theater for Less Than $1000" for some suggestions on how to put together a solid home entertainment center on the cheap.
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