Digital Crave

Why it’s a good time to buy a new TV

Timing, as they say, is everything. And this applies to buying consumer electronics, too.

No one wants to buy something that's about to see a drop in price a month later, nor do you want to invest in antiquated technology.

Unless you're an early adopter with deep pockets — and willing to upgrade for the latest and greatest on a regular basis — it pays to wait until the right time to jump in.

So, here's something to consider if you're on the fence about picking up a new flat-panel television: Now's a great time to buy.

OK, so there might not be door crashers like you'd find on Black Friday or just before the Super Bowl. But you can get a lot of bang for your buck these days as retailers and online stores are eager to clear out aging inventory.

Some food for thought:

Supply vs. demand

According to technology market intelligence company HIS (formerly iSuppli), flat-panel TV shipments in the United States are projected to drop for the first time ever. A recent report predicts LCD, LED and plasma television shipments should see a decline of 5 percent in 2012. The same study maintained sales crested in 2011 when the market grew just 1 percent over the prior year. Shipments are projected to continue to weaken for the next three years until at least 2015, says HIS.

What does this mean to you? Expect retailers to slash prices even more than they already are -- and they're as low as they've ever been. For example, you can now pick up a 42-inch LED TV or 50-inch plasma television for under $500 apiece.

The weak economy translates to slower sales, which suggests you can find good deals in April and May, even though sites like CNET, Engadget and Real Simple says the best time to buy is generally in February or March.

Along with increased competition, prices have dropped over the past couple of years because TV makers have been getting good deals on the most expensive part of the television: the glass panels. This, in turn, helps drive down costs for the consumer, too. In 2004, for instance, Panasonic's 42-inch TH-42PA20U was $4,499; today, the 42-inch Panasonic TC-P42X3 costs $599.99.

No new tech coming

Another reason why it's a good time to buy a new HDTV? There aren't any brand new technologies on the horizon worth waiting for. Well, except for super-slim and high-contrast OLED TVs, perhaps, but you'll have to pay through the nose for it.

If you want 3D entertainment in the home, "passive" 3DTVs are considerably cheaper today than "active" 3DTVs that work with powered, wireless glasses. And instead of spending money on a "Smart TV," you can add Internet connectivity to existing televisions with a $49 Netgear NeoTV, $69 Roku 2 or $99 Apple TV. Other technologies, such as those that smooth out motion (120Hz/240Hz) and offer better lighting (LED) are also here and more affordable than ever.

And keep in mind television sizes are already quite large, with many between 42 and 60 inches, therefore you're able to get a lot of screen size for the price.

Extra! Extra!

Many retailers are adding an extra incentive to move more televisions. Best Buy, for example, is giving away extra pairs of 3D glasses on select models, or a "free" Blu-ray player thrown in with the purchase of a new television.

Other retailers might offer a bundled wall mount, free at-home installation on select models or extended warranty. Crutchfield.com is offering major discounts on home theater gear and other accessories with the purchase of select televisions.

When in doubt, ask. Sales clerks want to close the deal and they might have more leeway than they initially let on. It doesn't hurt to ask about current promotions or if they can do better on the sticker price.

You can also save money by purchasing a year-old model, if you don't mind not having the latest bells and whistles, such as 3D or wireless connectivity.

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