Black-Friday: buying a new TV

I have an ancient tube 36" tube tv. I decided that on big black-friday sale, Ill go buy a tv. There is a best buy not too far from me (although I am not opposed to ordering online). Anyway, my problem is that I know nothing about these newer plasma / LCD TVs. I would mostly be picking one on size (and can it fit into my car).

Any advice on brand and what I should look for and what to avoid?

Size depends on how far you sit from the set. You probably want a 42" set, at least. Try for a direct-lit LED, 1080p, with at least 2 HDMI inputs. 120Hz is nice.

“Smart TV” functionality and 3D are both zero value. Get a roku or firetv for that (although there are TVs with rokus built in now, those are an interesting alternative). If you do buy a smart TV, carefully google it first. Some of them show ads or have major privacy implications.

Shopping on black friday is basically for suckers. Buy online, have it delivered to your door.

My livingroom isn’t huge, but I got a 55" LED. I thought it’d be too big, and it felt like it was for about two weeks. Then I got used to it. If you love TV, get one that you think might be a bit too big - it won’t really be. I think 55" is the sweet spot right now.

Edit - and I agree that you shouldn’t put any value into “smart” TVs, and especially 3D. You can pick up a very good 50-55" LED-lit TV with tons of inputs for under $700. Maybe even under $500 on Black Friday.

For reference on size, in my smallish living room, I sit about 10-12 feet from the TV and the 40-inch LCD I have feels plenty large. If you’re going to be 20+ feet away, or are looking for the “theatre screen” experience, go bigger.

Totally agree that shopping on the actual Black Friday (or Thursday night, or whenever they start now) is for suckers. Go online, no hassle with moving the box yourself and no insane people who don’t understand the internet trampling one another. The one caveat to this is that you might want to order from someone with a physical presence nearby (like the Best Buy you mentioned) in case you need an exchange or something.

I think stusser covered it nicely. I’ll just reiterate that if you site within 12’-15’ of your television you’re probably not going to want to go too huge. Our family room is a rectangle, with the couch and chair on one of the long sides and the TV on the other, so we only sit about 12 feet from the TV and 42" was plenty big enough to look good and still be comfortable. Sure, I get screen envy sometimes when I walk into a friend’s house and they have a 65-incher mounted to one wall, but then I notice all their seats are like 20 feet away from the screen and the rooms are much bigger than my family room (mostly it’s finished basements I see the big sets installed into).

Anyway, in terms of specs, look for LED 1080p sets (don’t waste your time on 720p, which is what a lot of Black Friday specials will tend to be) that feature at least two HDMI inputs AND a component input. You’ll want that component (Red/White/Yellow) input because I’m going to guess that since you’re still using a tube TV you also have a cable box and/or DVD player that uses the standard component inputs as well. 60Hz refresh rate is crap (again many Black Friday sets will have 60Hz), I recommend 120Hz as the quality is better and it does not significantly increase the cost. Quality manufacturers include Samsung, Toshiba and Panasonic. Smart TV is neat, but relatively useless and not worth paying a premium for. Any household with an iPad and Netflix or Amazon Prime makes Smart TV redundant.

Since you mentioned Best Buy I took a quick spin around their site looking only at sets available in store and found this set that seems to combine everything on a budget :
Visio M-Series 42" $499. This TV has 1080p, 240Hz and Smart TV all for under $500. I’m not sure how they did all this for this price point, but it gets some very good reviews from 200+ Best Buy customers, so it’s apparently not total junk either.

I need to jump in with a correction. Component cables are Red/Green/Blue. Red/White/Yellow is composite TV with stereo: Yellow is video, red and white is left/right audio. Some new TV sets still have both component and composite video input, which will be great for you, DeepT, while you transition to the modern HDMI age.

Note that it is almost impossible to find a TV with S-Video input anymore.

You may also find the occasional Plasma TV with insanely low prices. There isn’t any problems with Plasma; in fact, many people prefer Plasma when you are watching from a truly dark room (no windows in the room at all!). But to make a long story short, stick with LED TVs. (If you want a longer story, there are threads in QT3 and elsewhere that tells you.)

My bad, KAOFloppy is correct, the RGB is component, the RWY is composite. Most sets will come with both inputs in addition to HDMI. That Vizio set for example had 4 HDMI and 1 each of composite and component, so it should be good for just about anything you want to hook up to it.

Ok, thanks for the input. I am not an avid TV watcher. I mostly watch them while I run on my elliptical. How are LED TVs when viewed from an angle? I currently have a Tivo so I can use the HMDI although my “TV” signal is low-def. I might pay extra for HD once I get an HD TV.

TVs are cheaper than ever and almost all content is HD. Go 55" or 60", honestly. By being the total complete end of the adoption tail (latest of the late adopters) you can get an amazing deal compared to what the rest of us paid. Top brands are Sony, Sharp, and Samsung.

BTW, I’m a huge fan of plasma after buying one earlier this year, but there’s no way I’d recommend one just coming into the HDTV world from a CRT due to burnin, etc issues. You’ll probably be super happy with an LED LCD (I love LCDs, except that they suck at darks - all the darks on my Samsung and Sony LCDs turned into funky banded grey blotches, even after professional calibration). But, yeah, I wouldn’t get anything smaller than a 55", unless you live in a closet. There’s no such thing as a TV that’s too big.

As for viewing angles…yeah, that’s a thing to be concerned about with LED (not so much with plasma). Maybe some LCDs are better than others? I definitely noticed issues with my LCDs if I was too low or too far to the side.

I have a Panasonic 50" plasma, about 3 or 4 years old now. It works great, sports like football and movies on blu ray are incredible. My tips would be:
Plasma appears to be dead, I don’t like investing in dead tech with no future. That said, if picture quality for sports and movies is important you may be able to get a deal as they dump plasma.
Glare is an issue on my plasma, so unless you can control lighting that may be a deal breaker.
Plasmas run hotter and louder(fan). This is not a problem for me as I crank the surround sound when I’m watching my 50". If you’re one of those quiet tv watchers the fan noise may be annoying. It’s not loud per se, it’s just that I can detect it, its very existence may be annoying to some.
A 36" CRT has a picture about 21" tall. An HDtv, being widescreen, needs to be about 44" to give you the same height picture. This is an important consideration, I know people who bought a ‘bigger’ HDtv than the CRT they had and yet the image looks smaller. That’s because if you are used to seeing characters 21" tall and now you’re watching characters 19" tall things WILL look small. The overall picture is larger, but it won’t look that way.

It is kind of funny that you woke up and slept through the entire Plasma generation of TVs. They are better quality than any alternative except OLED, but they are dead technology no longer being manufactured after this year. What’s your budget?

I’m curious why you would say an obviously wrong thing such as this.

Within reason it’s true. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tv that’s too big, among my friends and family at least. Sure a 60 inch doesn’t belong in a kitchen but I don’t think that’s what he meant. In the context of the original post, it makes sense to go relatively big these days. My 42 cost $1000, a 60 at the same price today would look great in my tv/living room which is fairly small.

Now that the black friday weekly adds for various stores are out, is there anything in them that appear to be really good deals?

We’re looking for a desktop PC that we slap a gaming video card in and have it be a decent gaming PC. Any good deals on those?

This may be a dumb question, but these HD TVs come with speakers, right? I do not need a separate sound system, correct?

Yeah, the TV will have integrated speakers, but they’ll be anemic. The simplest upgrade is a soundbar.

I just looked at that article and the one they label as best is now $199 from Best Buy (you have to add it to your cart to see the price). So it’s $50 off right now (no idea for how long). I’ve never considered a soundbar before but all of a sudden that sounds like a really great deal!

A soundbar/speaker-other-than-tv is totally worth it. Even a non-audiophile like myself noticed a big difference right away.