Hi-def, low price

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Almost half of us plan to spend less money this holiday season than we did in 2007, thanks to today's crappy economy. But despite these hard times, ABI Research reports almost one in five people say they'll buy an HDTV with their holiday dollars.

February's government-mandated conversion to digital TV is certainly driving some of that spending. But plunging prices on HDTVs are also luring customers to brick-and-mortar and online electronics stores, where they're finding great deals of as much as 50 percent off original suggested retail prices. Even the most popular sets selling on Amazon.com are sporting prices at a 20 to 25 percent discount.

Panasonic's Viera 42-inch plasma TV boasting 720p resolution (model TH-42PX80U) was Amazon's leading plasma seller through last Sunday. It was going for $780, or 22 percent off the set's original list price, on Amazon, and sells for $800 at local Best Buy and Circuit City stores.

Panasonic also has a 42-inch Viera set with a higher 1080p resolution (model TH-42PZ85U). While this model will cost you $1,018, it features an even larger savings of 32 percent off.

If an LCD television set is more to your liking, Amazon's top seller is Samsung's 46-inch 1080p HDTV (model LN46A650). It's selling for 24 percent off the suggested retail price - $1,600 online and at local Best Buy and Circuit City stores.

The set's popularity comes from its long list of features. You get twice the contrast of Samsung's 2007 model TVs, as well as the InfoLink service, which brings news, weather and sports updates directly to your set from the internet. Four HDMI ports and modes boost the set's performance during sporting events or while playing PlayStation, Xbox or Wii games.

On the rear-projection front, Amazon's No. 1 seller is Samsung's 61-inch 1080p LED-powered DLP HDTV (model HL61A750). It's going for $1,500 online, which represents a 21-percent savings; $1,700 at Best Buy and $1,805 at Circuit City. This large widescreen features advanced DLP technology, including the ability to display 3-D movies and video games.

Two of the better low-cost sets on Amazon.com are Samsung's 32-inch LCD HDTV (model LN32A450), priced at $606 or 19 percent off, and Panasonic's 42-inch plasma HDTV (model TH-42PX80U), priced at $765 or 23 percent off. Both sets sport 720p resolution.

Whichever screen size fits your living room - or whichever price best fits your wallet - you should be able to find a strong selection of HDTV sets at considerable savings this holiday season.

Got a gadget question or a high-tech toy to recommend? E-mail gspot@columbusalive.com