The dog days of August are a slow selling period for TV manufacturers and dealers. With summer vacations in full swing, folks getting ready for back to school hassles, and weeks before the NFL season opens, there aren’t too many customers looking to buy a new HDTV.
But if you need one this month, it can be a great time to get a new TV. Here are several methods to save you hundreds of dollars.
Plasma over LED
If you’re in the market for a 50-inch or larger HDTV one thing stores will do is dissuade from buying a plasma. Why? They’re less expensive than similarly-featured LED LCDs, so the store will try to step you up telling you they’re better.
Who says they’re not? We do, along with Consumer Reports and CNET, as their top rated HDTVs are almost always plasmas. Plasmas offer better viewing angles, sharper motion detail, and generally higher contrast (due to deeper blacks). Plasmas also have excellent picture uniformity. LEDs can be brighter. However, for most daytime viewing areas (especially if there are window treatments for light control) plasmas provide a fine image for daytime and is brighter than the large screen CRT or RPTV you may be replacing. Four of our low cost favorites are the Samsung’s F5300 and 51F5500 series, and the Panasonic 50S60, and ST60 HDTVs. The latter earned our highest rating. For more on plasma vs. LED read our comparison article.
Most major brands, such Samsung, Sony and LG, fall under a one-price unilateral pricing policy (UPP). This means authorized dealers are not supposed to sell below the current “unilateral” price. Even so, posts on consumer forums report many independent dealers, and even a number of Best Buy stores, will give a price break rather than let you walk out the door empty handed.
If all authorized dealers sell at the same price UPP, where do you find a lower price to show them? Check the price from an unauthorized dealer. Keep in mind, though, we don’t recommend buying from an unauthorized dealer due to pitfalls outlined in our article How to get the best HDTV deals. There we list an unauthorized dealer that does have very low prices on UPP branded models (Samsung, Sony, LG etc.) , but not without potential issues.
The best negotiating strategy: go to the store with the make, model, and screen size you want to purchase. Ask for their in-store price, then show them on your smart phone, tablet, or (gasp!) printed out on a piece of paper, the unauthorized dealer’s price. Tell them you are ready to buy today if they will match the price. The salesman will often go to the manager. One of three things will occur: The manager will meet the price, he may reduce the tag price close to the unauthorized dealer price, or he may not budge. If the latter, the store ends up with no revenue and a lost customer.
If you also want to buy a service plan, or intend to buy an accessory with the HDTV such as a stand or soundbar, check the Amazon direct price before hand (Best Buy will always meet their price along with many regional dealers). This may provide added incentive for the dealer to drop the price on the HDTV you desire most.
Go With a Non-UPP HDTV Brand
Panasonic does not have a uniform pricing policy, and permits its dealers to negotiate a deal. They also are making some of the highest rated HDTVs in 2013. For example, its 50-inch Smart top rated plasma model TC-P50ST60 sells for $997.99 from Amazon Direct, including shipping. Use this price as a starting point to negotiate the best deal possible.
The tier 3 brands like Hi-Sense, TCL and Seiki don’t have UPP prices either, so if you’re inclined to go with a brand like that, there may be room to negotiate. Note that generally the price leader models (which the industry calls opening price point, or OPP) have razor thin dealer margins such as a (i.e. Ocosmo 32-inch 720p 60Hz LED LCD TV) for $175, leaving no room for negotiating.
Check out current dealer incentives
Throughout the year, HD Guru scours the Internet looking for models that TV makers provide “dealer incentives” on, in the form of instant rebates that lower the selling price. This week we found models with up to 45% retail. Below are the Amazon direct prices and links. All include free shipping and 14-day price protection.
LG Electronics 55LA6900 55-Inch Cinema Screen Cinema 3D 1080p LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV and Four Pairs of 3D GlassesRetail $2000 Now $1199.99-40% off
LG Electronics 47LA6900 47-Inch Cinema Screen Cinema 3D 1080p LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV and Four Pairs of 3D Glasses Retail $1600 Now $839.99-40% off
LG Electronics 55LA7400 55-Inch Cinema Screen Cinema 3D 1080p LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV and Four Pairs of 3D Glasses Retail $2300 Now $1499.00-35% off
Samsung UN40F6300 40-Inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED HDT Retail $1050 Now $636.40-39% off
Samsung UN50F6300 50-Inch 1080p 120Hz Slim Smart LED HDTV Retail $1600 Now $947.-40% off
Samsung UN65F6300 65-Inch 1080p 120Hz Slim Smart LED HDTV Retail $3100 Now $1703.19-45% off
Samsung UN60F7100 60-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Ultra Slim Smart LED HDTV Retail $3100 Now $1997.99
LG Electronics 47GA6400 47-Inch Cinema 3D 1080p 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV with Google TV and Four Pairs of 3D Glasses Retail $1300 Now $731.17-44% off
Sony KDL-50R550A 50-Inch 120Hz 1080p LED HDTV (Black) Retail $1400 Now $898.00-36% off
Sony KDL-60R550A 60-Inch 120Hz 1080p LED HDTV (Black) Retail $2100 Now $1460.63
LG Electronics 50LN5400 50-Inch 1080p LED-LCD HDTV with Smart Share Retail $1100 Now $629.00-43% off
LG Electronics 55LN5400 55-Inch 1080p LED-LCD HDTV with Smart Share Retail $1400 Now $798.00-43% off
Panasonic TC-P50S60 50-Inch 1080p 600Hz Plasma HDTV Retail $900 Now $669.99
One Final Tip
If you pay for your new HDTV with any MasterCard, American Express, or a Visa Signature (only) credit card, you will automatically get double the manufacturer’s warranty through the card company. As most HDTVs come with one year parts and labor, this gives you two years P&L at no extra charge.
All of the listed HDTVs are sold by Amazon direct and offer a 14 day low price guarantee, 2% Back in Rewards (on TVs $999 or higher) and 30 Day returns with free return freight on TVs. They stand behind their sales. Note: prices are correct as of posting and may change at any time, please verify with our links; Currently, most states do not collect sales tax on Amazon orders with the exceptions of AZ, CA, TX, KS, KY, NJ, NY, ND, PA & WA. You always must pay sales tax (in states that collect it) when buying at a brick and mortar store. Should you buy an HDTV from on-line or from a retail store? For the answers read our article here.
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