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Experts: Black Friday Will Break HDTV Price Records

Nov 2, 2006  •  Post A Comment

For those who have been holding off on taking the HD plunge, retail experts say set prices are about to become more tempting than ever.
Kicking off with the day after Thanksgiving, so-called “Black Friday,” industry experts such as Quixel Market Research expect retailers to widely offer 42″ HD flat panels on sale for less than $1,000 for the first time.
That would bring the popular HD entry point set below a figure that many experts consider a major psychological hurdle. Granted, the sets expected to go for less than $1,000 will be “tier 3 units, little-known brands such Maxent and Vizio rather than tier 1 brands such as Panasonic and Sony.
“The day after Thanksgiving has become so dramatic, you can get a great deal on a little LCD at your grocery store now,” said Tamaryn Pratt, principal analyst for Quixel Market Research in Oregon. “Some products will be down as much as half-price from where they were last year.”
Also bound to be half-off: the coveted 50″ HD plasma panel, which is expected to drop to as low as $1,499 for tier 3 sale models-nearly half what they cost last year.
“I recently heard ads in New York City for 42-inch Panasonic plasmas at $1,239, so a sale price of $999 wouldn’t be far-fetched for the holiday season,” said Pete Putman, manager of ROAM Consulting. “Plasma is under tremendous pressure from same-size LCD screens, which have 1920×1080 resolution at under $2,500.”
Other Black Friday speculation includes a tier 1 50″ plasma being offered for $1,999, and a Best Buy sale in which all flat panels are 25 to 30 percent off, according a recent article in This Week in Consumer Electronics, a consumer electronics trade paper.
Low-priced enhanced-definition models, which do not render images in true high definition and that dipped below $1000 for the first time last November, should finally be phased out.
“There’s plenty of availability and competition has brought the prices down,” said analyst Michelle Abraham of In Stat in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I don’t know if the prices will stay at [$999 for 42″ panels], but as Black Friday specials it’s possible.”
Ms. Pratt noted most HDTV buyers spend many hours researching online before making a purchase to understand the differences between the various set technologies and recommended newcomers do the same.
She added that customers often think national electronics chains such as Best Buy and Circuit City have fixed prices on their HD sets, but in fact there is often some wiggle room for haggling (not so with chains like Target, Wal-Mart and Costco, however).
Many Internet-only dealers also offer HDTV sets, though consumers should check sites like Resellerratings.com to gauge a dealer’s reputation and pay close attention to the company’s return policy, Ms. Abraham said.
Many Internet vendors do not allow returns once an item has been used.
Chain retailers tend to have slightly higher prices than Internet vendors, but have friendlier return policies.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s High Definition newsletter, a weekly source of breaking HD news, articles and interviews written by Senior Reporter James Hibberd.

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