Tips for buying an HDTV for the Super Bowl

Super Bowl 44 is just around the corner, and while many consumers already own decent-sized high-definition televisions, the week leading up to the Super Bowl is still a popular time to purchase a new high-quality HDTV. To help you get the best deal on a new HDTV for Super Bowl Sunday, we've gathered some great shopping tips as well as recommendations from HDTV and deal experts.

A great place to learn about getting a good deal on a HDTV for sports is Consumer Report's 10 tips: Buying a TV for the Super Bowl. Instead of focusing on the tech specs that you should look for, which we will do later, these tips will help you make smart shopping decisions to get the most for your money.

What to look for in an HDTV:
If you are looking for a new HDTV today, Andrew Eisner, HDTV expert and Content Manager at Retrevo.com, offers the following three features to look for, " ... if you want to future-proof your LCD TV until 3D comes along."

  • 120 or 240Hz refresh -- a higher number means less blur
  • LED backlight -- edge-lit is more common
  • Internet connectivity -- just now starting to appear
While you might not need all of these items to make sure you are getting an HDTV that will last you for many years, you would be well served by looking for one that has at least 1080p resolution and a refresh rate of 120Hz.

Our Favorite tips from Consumer Reports are:

4. Don't let a low price be the only reason for purchasing a TV. Broaden your options by deciding on a few models you'd like to own -- and the features you think you'll need -- before you start your Super Bowl shopping. With several good choices in mind, you'll have a better chance of finding a set you'd really like to own, not just one that's comparatively cheap. If a set you want isn't a Super Bowl special, ask if the retailer can do anything with the price. There may be some wiggle room on other, often better, sets that aren't included in the promotions. The retail margins may be better on these sets, so the store could shave a few dollars off the price and still do better than with one of the promoted models.

5. Don't try to save money by opting for a smaller screen size. It may be tempting, but it's our guess that few if any TV owners wish they had purchased a smaller set, while many wish they had gone larger.

6. Check the store's Web site to see if the in-store deals are available online, enabling you to avoid the hassle and crowds. But make sure there's enough time for the TV to be delivered, or find out if they will let you order online and pick up locally. Also, some stores may have Web-only specials not available to in-store shoppers.

This advice is especially important if you want a new HDTV that will meet your needs for the coming years, perhaps even until 3D HDTV units reach the prices of today's large LCD HDTVs.

The other seven tips include great advice on finding a good deal, making sure the TV will arrive before kickoff, and how you should pay for your HDTV to get the best long-term protection.

I can personally vouch that buying an HDTV based solely on price is a bad idea. Do yourself a favor; listen to Consumer Reports and learn from my mistake so that you don't spend more in the long run.

Is now the right time to buy an HDTV?
If you are in the market for a new HDTV, there's some good news. While some sources say the best time to buy an HDTV is in April, the Consumer Reports shopping calendar also shows that January remains a good time to get a deal on a new HDTV.

Still, you may be better off waiting, if you can stand to watch the Super Bowl on your current set for one more year. Dan de Grandpre, CEO of Dealnews, recommends that you wait until March to buy an HDTV, because the price of 120Hz HDTVs usually drops significantly then. He points to the DealWatch Price trends for 120Hz LCD HDTVs as evidence. Note the price trend for 40" to 42" 120Hz LCD HDTVs below.


What to consider when buying an HDTV:
Now that you know how to find a good deal on an HDTV for the Super Bowl, here are the technical details you need to know to make sure that your HDTV purchase will be as future-proof as you can realistically get with consumer electronics.

Should you wait for 3D HDTV?
First and foremost, with ESPN introducing a 3D channel this summer, should you wait for 3D to buy a new TV? We posed this question to Eisner.

"Don't hold out just for 3D," he told WalletPop in our phone interview. He said that when 3D arrives, the sets will be more expensive and there are still standards issues that need to be addressed before your average viewer should buy a 3D TV.

What deals to watch for:
If you are looking for a specific deal on a HDTV for watching the Super Bowl or sports in general, Eisner suggests that you check out Bestcovery's list of best HDTVs for watching sports as well as Retrevo's
HDTV's for watching sports list.

Don't forget to also look at Retrevo's HDTV deals, Dealnews' HDTV deals and the circulars for your local stores which will be cutting prices in the days leading up to Super Bowl 44.

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