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Update and correction posted 2/9/10

(2/7/10) The big game represents the tail end of the HDTV buying season. All dealers run specials to help sell as many sets as possible, in preparation for the sales drought that lingers for months afterwards. This year is different. You need to know why in order to make your decision: buy this year’s close-out at a bargain price, or wait for the 2010s.

In previous years the annual model change began in late spring through mid-fall. This year, in an effort to increase sales during the late winter selling drought, many TV vendors chose to begin releasing their respective 2010 model lines beginning as early as February, just a week or so after the Super Bowl.

Wait or Buy Now?

Fortunately, having seen many of the 2010 models at the International Consumer Electronics Show this past January, we know what is coming. Pricing has begun to leak out as well. Here’s how the picture shapes up.

37″ and Smaller LCD

There are few significant image improvements in this size category with the exception of more LED models (producing brighter images, with lower power consumption and thinner form factors) appearing in a number of 2010 product lines, in the next four to twelve weeks. We’ve listed some smokin’ hot closeout deals in this size range below.

42″ and Larger LCD

Here’s where it’s a tough to call. Your decision will depend on the features you desire. Among LCD with CCFL lighting models, only one 2010 series will come with 3D capability (C750 by Samsung). All other 3D capable LCDs will be LED 240 Hz models with premium pricing and feature sets associated with the high refresh rate. The 60Hz and 120 Hz models we’ve seen will perform similarly to last year’s models across brands. More 2010 models will include added features such as Internet widgets and services as well as USB inputs for viewing photos.
Most of the major improvements in the 120Hz and 240 Hz models will be found in the 2010 LED LCD sets. They include better contrast and deeper blacks, better anti-reflective coatings and thinner depth cabinets. Moving up in a given product line, you will be able to get local dimming in a thin, edge lit LED LCD TV. Sony and LG announced two types of local dimming, each of which divide the screen into small, dimmable sections, with the higher end models having the most localized control, minimizing halos of light objects or text against a dark background. Samsung also will incorporate a form of local dimming in its C8000 and C9000 series LED LCDs, but won’t yet say how it’s done.


2010 plasma sets have a number of performance improvements, although they are limited to the upper tier models of their respective manufacturers (Panasonic, LG and Samsung). Buying a 2009 closeout model now or waiting for the 2010s really depends on your needs and desires and where in the line you want to make a purchase. For example, in the Panasonic line the 2009 S1 and 2010 S2 models have the same contrast ratio and number of gradations specs. Correction: The native contrast for the 2010 S2 series is rated at 2,000,000:1 up from a native contrast ratio of 40,000: 1 for the 2009 S1 plasma series. However, the retail price is actually $100-$200 lower (depending on screen size) on the 2010 S2 series.

Update: Panasonic has just supplied contrast ratio specs for its 2010 models. Please note “Dynamic Contrast” ratio uses a black measurement with no content on the screen.  “Native Contrast” uses  a test signal containing a small white area surrounded by black to make the measurements.

Note, we take all dynamic contrast numbers with a grain of salt as measuring contrast ratio using with an all black screen  for dark measurment does not provide a meaningful number as to how a display performs when viewing real content.

C2- 2,000,000:1 Dynamic
X2- 2,000,000:1 Dynamic
U2- 2,000,000:1 Native
S2- 2,000,000:1 Native
G series- 5,000,000:1 Native
VT series- 5,000,000:1 Native


As a feature for LCD and LED LCD you will be limited to 240 Hz models. As announced (to date) all the Sony and LG 3D LCDs will be LED edge-lit thin designs, within their top three series (Sony) or strictly the top series (LG). Besides the LED series, Samsung offers a 240 Hz CCLF LCD 3D series (C750). Sony will have 3Ds in screen sizes starting at 46″ while Samsung will begin at 40″ screen size.

Samsung and Panasonic will offer 3D plasmas in two top series starting at 50.” No word yet on LG 3D plasma, although they did show a prototype at CES. While there’s no official word on availability from any of the 3D vendors, we expect Samsung and Panasonic to ship theirs sooner than Sony’s July 2010 scheduled release of its LED LCD 3D models.

Summing it up

60 Hz LCD– Get a closeout deal on a 2009

120 HZ LCD– Get a closeout deal on a 2009

LED LCD 120 Hz– Get a closeout deal on a 2009, this category is declining, for example Samsung is offering only one series of LED 120 Hz TV in 2010

LED LCD 240 Hz-Wait for the 2010s, which will have higher performance, local dimming availability and many will be thinner than this year’s models. Plus we expect them to cost less than the comparable 2009 models. Many series will also include 3D availability.

720p Plasma– Performance for the 2010 models will be similar to the 2009s, but at lower retail prices. Consider only a red-hot deal on a 2009 leftover.

1080p PlasmaEntry level (i.e. S2 Panasonic) 2010s offer better performance than the 2009 models.  Expect the 2010s at lower retail prices though. Only consider a 2009 at a red-hot price.

1080p Plasma- Mid Level (i.e G25 Panasonic)- 2010 models will offer significant performance and energy efficiency improvements over last year’s models. You’re better off waiting for the 2010s to begin arriving later this month or early March.

1080p Plasma- High End (i.e VT25 Panasonic, C8000 Samsung).  2010s offer significant performance, deeper blacks, extremely effective new anti-reflective coatings and efficiency improvements over the 09s in addition to new 3D capability at equal or lower retails. Wait for the 2010 models.

This Week’s Hottest Deals: (FS=Free Shipping)

[amazonify]B001UE6MA2::text:::: Panasonic X1 Series TC-L26X1 26-Inch 720p LCD HDTV [/amazonify] $289.99 Amazon FS

[amazonify]B002JCSBE4::text::::Toshiba 32RV525R 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV [/amazonify] $399.98 Amazon FS

[amazonify]B001U3Y8M2::text::::Samsung LN32B360 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV [/amazonify] $379.00 Amazon FS

[amazonify]B001U3Y8PY::text:::: Samsung LN52B550 52-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV[/amazonify] $379.00 Amazon FS

[amazonify] B001U3YK48::text::::Panasonic TC-L32S1 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV [/amazonify] $438.00 Amazon FS

[amazonify] B001TOD3J6::text::::Toshiba REGZA 42Z650U 42-Inch 1080p LCD 240 Hz (using 120 Hz Panel + Scanning CCFL Backlight) HDTV[/amazonify] $799.00 J&R via Amazon FS

[amazonify]B001U3Y8PY::text:::: Samsung LN52B550 52-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV[/amazonify] $1119.00 Amazon FS

[amazonify] B001TOD3JQ::text::::Toshiba REGZA 55V650U 55-Inch 1080p LCD 240 Hz (120 Hz +Scanning CCFL Backlight[/amazonify] $1499.08  6ave via Amazon FS

Edited by Michael Fremer

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