If you’re thinking about buying an HDTV, experts advise waiting till after January, when price drops are sure to follow Christmas overstocks. [NYT]

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  1. loueloui says:

    Man do I want an HDTV. I’ve held back the last 2 years. First year, because we just bought a new house, and I have $0 credit card debt, and plan to keep it that way. The second because we were redoing the inside. So it’s either HDTV this year, or a divorce whichever is cheaper.

    Anyone else heard anything about the sales climate this year?

  2. DownwardSpiral says:

    Probably good advice, even though I’ve seen some pretty good deals browsing through the bargainist and dealhack etc recently

  3. Youthier says:

    I doubt I’ll convince my husband to hold off until January since both of our teams will be out of the playoffs by early November but it’s a good thought.

  4. nweaver says:

    In january, you’ll probably be able to get good 1080p 42″ or bigger LCDs for $1k or less. I’m waiting.

  5. EvilConservative says:

    I just took the plunge after waiting and watching since February. Prices are almost guaranteed to come down in the long-run… looking out 2-3 months from whenever you choose. That’s the nature of technology, especially at the stage of adoption where HDTV is today. I did my research and picked a size and model and then lurked watching mail-order prices daily and occasionally dropped in to local stores for about 5-6 months. The curve seemed to be slowing on the model I chose and then I caught a dip offered through Amazon and grabbed one. Their price varies constantly and changes when the supplier changes. Today, it is from a different supplier and is about $150 less than what I paid 2 weeks ago. Where I bought it is actually higher than I paid.

    Price-monitor sites like c|net and pricegrabber should become regular daily viewing for a few weeks or months as you watch the trends for the model after which you lust. Also be certain to consider shipping part of the price – some sites low-ball prices and jack shipping. And avoid a site that has to charge sales tax in your state.

    Be careful… prices even from the same supplier vary depending on how you get there… for example, the Panasonic TH-50PZ700U 50″ 1080p Plasma HDTV: Amazon will sell you one right now via Electronics Expo for $2,145.88. From Amazon you can also click 6th Ave Electronics and pay $2,348.00. Go directly to the 6th Ave site and you pay $2,999.00.

    You must evaluate how much you trust the supplier, what their shipping policies are (almost no one allows returns unless you refuse delivery of a damaged unit) and if you trust the reviewers giving them their consumer ratings. Be very wary and make sure you follow-through at your end, meet the delivery and carefully open and check over the unit before you sign. The drivers should be expecting that and should be very helpful and “on your side” to make sure it is in good shape. They don’t work for the vendor and often not even for the long-distance shipper. They’re local guys on contract.

    When you are ready, a little effort can save a few bucks too: download the owner’s manual from the manufacturer and figure out what cables you need and buy them separately (at least compare the prices the TV-vendor offers as a bundle.) Likewise, look to Costco or Sam’s Club for a good deal on a wall mount bracket if that’s your plan. TVs come with pedastals for table top use. You’ll likely need a strong friend or family member to come help you lift it up to the wall and hang it on the mount. They’re an awkward 80-90 pounds.

    Good luck… we’re happy with ours after a couple weeks.

  6. Starfury says:

    HDTV: Don’t need/want one. Not enough on TV to make it worth replacing my current sets. I spend more time playing games on my PC than watching TV.

    They also won’t fit into the furniture I use for my current TVs so on top of the TV cost I’d have to pay for new furniture.

  7. lemur says:

    Analysts said the same thing last year and there was no dramatic price drop in January.

  8. Canadian Impostor says:

    The correct time to buy is actually right after the Super Bowl, so normally mid February. In between Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl HDTV prices are the highest. They’re pretty decent in the fall, but rock bottom in mid February since the high buying season is gone and manufacturers announce and start shipping their new generation sets.

  9. Hobo-NC says:

    I have a friend that works at Best Buy. She confirms January as the best time–after Xmas, they’ll do anything to move merchandise.

  10. FLConsumer says:

    Shame on Consumerist for not also mentioning that the article indicated one retailer was trying to slap an extra $480 in useless services on each HDTV sale and other retailers were also interested in nailing the consumer with high-profit add-ons of dubious merit.

  11. Hobo-NC says:

    I should clarify–this is the best time to get a deal (i.e., haggle). They do actually have some leeway. Also, MSRP for HDTVs is about 25-35% above invoice, so you should have some wiggle room.

  12. NoThru22 says:

    The fabled post-Christmas and post-Superbowl TV sales are just that… fabled. Prices don’t “drop” after Christmas or Superbowl, unless you’re counting returned open box TVs, and even then there aren’t that many. The real price drops occur in Spring when new models begin to ship, but even then unless the new year’s model has a signifigant price cut, they try to make old stock run out just as new models are shipping. There are plenty of good sales on TVs during Christmas and during pre-Superbowl that sometimes prices go UP afterwards.

  13. ekthesy says:

    @Jason:

    You are correct. HDTV manufacturers wait to drop prices until after the Super Bowl. They treat the period between Christmas and the Super Bowl (I think it’s called “January”) as an extended Christmas season. They sell a LOT of TVs on the back of the NFL.

    For all other electronics, buy, buy, buy in January. Great deals can be had on open-boxes.

    This is from someone who knows (I used to work for a company rhymes with Phony.)

  14. Chicago7 says:

    That’s crazy. They aren’t going to lower the prices of HDTVs BEFORE the Super Bowl!

  15. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Our 42″ HDTV was one of my least favorite purchases last year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful display, but a total waste of money at this point in our case. The HD content on both Dish and DirecTV are hugely exaggerated; these slimeballs will say anything to get you to sign their three year contract. Once you’ve committed, your installation will likely be a nightmare (multiple missed appointments and rescheduling), frequent price hikes, and limited HD content (and what little there is –movie-wise– is repeated ad infinitum). If I had to do it over again, I would definitely wait.

  16. adamwade says:

    I’m a videophile, but I have resisted buying HDTV because, frankly, I’m happy with my current TV and how well it handles the content I watch. I have been watching the market closely, though, and although my opinion certainly isn’t expert, FWIW early 2008 is when I had decided it would be time as well. Post-super bowl, of course.

    It’s more than just waiting for prices to drop, it’s also about CableCard for me. Although I will not be subscribing to any HD service initially, I’m not going to invest in a new TV without that feature that I will want to use down the road. By then hopefully some of the CableCard issues will be sorted out and the cheaper models of HDTV will have them more commonplace. (For at least the first year, I really don’t see myself needing to watch cable in HDTV – I’ll use my OTA antena to get network broadcasts I care about like “Housewives”, “Heroes”, etc., but I have a feeling mostly I’ll be using it initially to play video games and watch upconverted DVDs. I’m excited about the widescreen aspect ratio more than “ooh now i can see every pore on the actors face!”.

  17. On that note, I’ll have to pass either way unless I have some kind of huge monetary bonus as I can’t afford an HDTV.

  18. Dervish says:

    We got a great deal on our DLP in May of ’05. It was the very last of the previous year’s models and a demo unit for the store. Over two years later (and a lot of TV time logged) and our bulb hasn’t gone yet – although it probably will now, just because I’ve said something.

    Digital cable isn’t really worth it for how little we watch all the extra channels, but the HD content is nice and it’s great to have a 50″ screen, even if we’re watching SD content.

    It’s one of the largest purchases I’ve ever made at one time, but I’ve never felt any buyer’s remorse. It’s worth noting that we did our research and waited for months to buy, though.