If you are looking for a new big screen for the big game, you still have time to order  on-line and save a bundle.  Below are the HD GURU Top Picks for the Best Super Bowl Big Screen Flat Panel HDTV deals.  We based our choices on performance and the best values. All make fantastic pictures for sports as well as movies, TV programs and other content.

The time leading up to the game is the last big opportunity for retailers and set makers to move high volumes of TVs. The prices have never been lower! Here’s what retailers are not telling you:

The first 2011 models will begin shipping as early this February, just one or two weeks after the game. Right now is inventory clearance time for the industry’s 2010 models. Manufacturer to dealer incentives are in full swing, which is why the discounts are wild, of up to 52% off the retail prices. When the 2011s begin to arrive, they will be priced quite a bit higher than the sets they are replacing.

We have divided the selections into four categories, Plasma 2D, Plasma 3D capable, LED LCD 2D and LED LCD 3D capable.

For the widest viewing angle and top motion resolution with sports or any source and the best overall HD picture, plasma is the way to go. It’s perfect for a big crowd, as everyone in the room sees a superb picture regardless if they are sitting or standing or off to the side (LED LCD tend to lose contrast and deep blacks as one moves off-center of the screen). Plasma continues to offer the best value as well with great prices, deep blacks with excellent detail and high contrast.  It also makes the best 3D images.

LED LCD is capable of making the brightest image, far more intense than needed in any normally lit home. In a retail store, the LED backlight models will always have more punch than the plasmas or LCDs (which use fluorescent tube backlights). This will fool uneducated consumers into believing the higher priced LEDs produce inherently better images. In reality, the store lighting being five to ten times brighter than any typical home skews your perception. While LEDs do make great pictures, unless you view at home in a room that is bathed in light during the day (no window shades or curtains etc.) you will end up viewing the images with the normal intensity “home” setting (its easier on the eyes for extended viewing), negating the brightness advantage of LED backlights.

No LED TVs have the viewing angle plasma displays provide, although we find LG’s big screen LCD technology has the widest viewing angle of any LED LCD we’ve tested.

With 3D  content, plasma also makes the best 3D pictures (better than any LED or LCD) .  Sony (according to our testing to date) gives the best LED 3D performance (using their latest glasses with updated second polarizer).

If you are considering a 3D set, please be aware this is the category that changes the most with the 2011 models. The set makers will be switching over to RF sync (current active 3D glasses use infra-red) that will be incompatible with this year’s glasses (in case you are already thinking of a second 3D set later in the year).

Please note: RF sync has no effect on 3D performance . Demos at the recent CES showed 3D performance improvements in the LED 3D category models due to a number of improvements inside the upcoming models.  There will also be a new class of 3D TVs in 2011 that will use passive glasses for one-half resolution 3D (link).

The Panasonic GT25 (3D) and all the LGs featured below have THX certification, a feature we really like, as it assures the viewer a top quality image with one setting.

Onto our top picks.

(Note: prices are correct as of posting and may change at any time, please verify with our links; FS=free shipping;  Most states do not collect sales tax on Amazon orders [with the exceptions of  CO, KS, KY, NY, ND & WA]. You always must pay sales tax when buying at any brick and mortar store. Should you buy an HDTV from on-line or from a retail store?  Learn all the pros and cons in our article here.)

2D Plasma
Samsung PN50C450 50-Inch 720p Plasma HDTV $613.96 6aav. via Amazon FS; Retail $800 (22% off retail)
Panasonic TC-P50S2 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV$859.98 6 Ave. via Amazon FS; Retail $1200 (28% off retail)
Panasonic TC-P58S2 58-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV$1298.00 Modia fulfilled by Amazon FS; Retail $1800 (28% off retail)
Panasonic TC-P65S2 65-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV$1899.98 One Call via Amazon FS; Retail $2600 (27% off retail).

3D Capable Plasma

Panasonic VIERA TC-P42GT25 42-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV Paul’s TV fulfilled by Amazon $799.99 FS; Retail $1700 (53% off retail)
Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV$1119.95 Update $1061.98 6 Ave. via Amazon FS; Retail $2100 (47% off retail)
Samsung PN58C680 58-Inch 1080p Plasma 3D HDTV$1699 Amazon FS; Retail $2300 (26% off retail)

LG INFINIA 47LE8500 47-Inch 1080p 240 Hz Full LED Slim LCD HDTV $1349.99 NetRush via Amazon; Retail $2700 FS (50% off retail)

Samsung UN46C6500 46-Inch 120 Hz 1080p LED HDTV $1147.00 Paul’s TV via Amazon; Retail $2100 (45% off retail)

Samsung UN55C6500 55-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV $1477.00 Paul’s TV via Amazon FS; Retail $2800 (47% off of retail)

3D Capable LED LCD
LG 47LX9500 47-inch 1080p 480Hz 3D Ready LED-Backlit HDTV$1899.98 Vann’s via Amazon; $4000 Retail (52% off retail)

LG 55LX9500 55-inch 1080p 3D Ready LED-Backlit  HDTV $2099.77 One Call Via Amazon FS; Retail $5000 (48% off retail)

Sony BRAVIA KDL40HX800 40-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D-Ready LED HDTV$1087.77 Amazon FS; Retail $1900 (42% off retail)

Sony BRAVIA KDL46HX800 46-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D-Ready LED HDTV$1386.96 6 Ave. via Amazon FS; Retail $2500 (44% off retail)

Sony BRAVIA KDL55HX800 55-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D-Ready LED HDTV$1798.00 Vann’s via Amazon; Retail $3200 (43% off retail)

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