Five HDTVs under $500
I need help finding a good HDTV for under $500. The sheer number of brands, features, and confusing buzzwords has left me baffled, even after visiting two stores. What are the most important things to look for, and if you could recommend some specific models, that would be great!
Buying an HDTV for $500 or Less
You can buy a pretty good HDTV for $500 or less these days. Apart from screen size, which is the first consideration for most TV buyers, you'll be confronted with lots of technical jargon when buying an HDTV. Do you want 720p or 1080p? What about contrast ratio, dynamic backlighting and Internet connectivity? Should you go for Plasma, LED, LCD or 3D? It can be more confusing than buying a car or a computer!
If all of that sounds like mumbo jumbo to you, see my companion article How to Buy an HDTV for some plain-English explanations before making you do any serious HDTV shopping. Most of the HDTV models you'll find in the under $500 price range will measure 32 inches at most, but that's a good size for many viewers. If you shop diligently you may find larger HDTV sets for less than $500, like some of the ones mentioned below.
Sub-$500 HDTVs to Consider
The biggest sub-$500 HDTV that I could find was the Zenith 50-inch Class 720p Plasma HDTV (Z50PT320), which sells for $499 at many online retailers. Search for this model with the Google Shopping search engine, and you'll see that buyers consistently give it 5-star ratings, and rave about the price, picture quality and other features. Yes, it's 720p, not 1080p. But honestly, it's very hard to tell the difference. And people who own this model say that it looks just as good as 1080p. Although it has a Zenith label, this set is made by LG, which has a reputation for quality.
The LG 42LK450 42-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV is in stock at Amazon.com for only $459, a price so far below the MSRP of $700 that Amazon can't advertise it. This set has 100,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, and features an "Intelligent Sensor" that automatically optimizes the picture, depending on the lighting conditions in the room. You'll have to add the TV to your shopping cart to see the price, but of course you can always delete it without buying. Shipping is free, too, and in most states you will pay no sales tax.
The VIZIO XVT323SV is a 32-inch LCD HDTV model with full HD 1080p that goes for $430, and is Internet-ready with built-in 802.11n WiFi connectivity. It has an LED display and 120 Hz refresh rate for razor-sharp rapid-response viewing. This unit claims an insane 1,000,000 to 1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio, which is just a bit more than any human can discern. But it's a good set, judging by customer reviews.
The Panasonic VIERA TC-L32C3 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV has an MSRP of $400, but you can snag one for as little as $334 if you shop around online. A good choice for the bedroom or other secondary viewing room, this unit sports a crisp IPS panel and Intelligent Picture Control for ultra-sharp picture quality. It also features an SD card slot in addition to HDMI and analog ports. However, it lacks a USB port.
The Samsung LN32D550 32-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LCD HDTV costs $486. Its full HD resolution of 1080p works well with the 32-inch screen to deliver a fantastic picture. It features network streaming, picture-in-picture, a 5-band equalizer, and firmware updating. Also nice is the detachable power cord that can be replaced easily. Samsung is a hihgly respected brand, and the overwhelming majority of buyers give this unit their highest rating.
Shopping for Your HDTV
Here's my closing advice on finding an HDTV under $500. Begin your shopping online, and look for customers reviews at Amazon, even if you don't plan to buy there. Other sites such as Epinions and Buzzillions offer reviews, product info and comparison tools, too. Read the comments posted by owners, especially the pros and cons.
Make sure your HDTV has all the input and output ports you need to accommodate your set top box, game console, DVD player and other gadgets. And if possible, head to an electronics store and watch some live TV on the model in which you're interested. Compare to other sets, and ask the salesperson what feedback he or she has about it, or the brand in general. If their only advice is to buy a more expensive model, remember that many work on commission. If you're willing to buy a floor model, or one that has a minor cosmetic blemish (and carry it home yourself) you could save even more.
Have you bought an HDTV for under $500? Tell us about it! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Jan 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Five HDTVs under $500 (Posted: 5 Jan 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved