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With the Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2019 shopping period now clearly in our sights, we’ve got lots of information on the kinds of deals TV shoppers will be seeing.
There’s still a fair amount of guesswork with any Black Friday predictions, but one thing that seems certain is that we’ll see new low prices for TVs at various screen sizes, especially 4K models with high dynamic range (HDR) capability. That could be a real bonus for TV fans. When done right, HDR boosts a TV’s brightness, contrast, and color, making the pictures on the screen look more like real life.
"We are already seeing a number of lower prices in this year’s Black Friday ads compared to last year," says Deirdre Kennedy, business director at the retail market research firm Gap Intelligence. "Some of the most significant price drops are seen in the larger screen sizes above 60 inches, which all have lower 'lowest' prices than 2018."
A few companies have been especially aggressive this year, she adds, noting that a few brands have cut prices by 50 percent off or more, including models from popular brands like Samsung, LG, Hisense, and TCL.
"The highest all-around average discounts are seen from smaller brands such as Philips, with a 46 percent average discount, Polaroid, with a 42 percent average discount, and Insignia, with a 38 percent average discount," Kennedy says. "But even if shoppers are not able to snag one of the limited-availability doorbusters, plenty of other deals are on offer to satisfy everyone."
Sometimes major brands will introduce special models, called derivatives, this time of the year. Derivatives (which are similar to existing models) and new-for-the-holidays TVs can make it tough for consumers to judge the quality of what's being advertised. It can be difficult to compare prices, too. After all, if a set is being sold at only one retailer, you can’t shop around or ask a store to honor a price-match guarantee.
"We are not seeing as many derivative products this year as in years past, in part because they were typically used as loss-leading doorbusters to lure shoppers into the stores on Black Friday," Kennedy explains. She added that changing consumer habits, particularly the growth of online vs. in-store shopping, has led to a decline in impact for these exclusive, derivative models.
"Some stores, such as Walmart and Target, advertised a couple of exclusive products in their Black Friday preview ads, but the practice is not as widespread as it once was," Kennedy says. According to Gap Intelligence data, there were 50 percent fewer new TVs launched between Oct. 1 and mid-November this year than in 2018.
Here’s a breakdown of what we think you’ll see during the 2019 Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping period.
TVs in this size tend to be popular Black Friday doorbuster promotions, offered at below-$100 prices. Though these TVs are usually from lesser-known brands and haven't been tested by Consumer Reports, they can be decent choices for secondary rooms of a house, such as a kid’s bedroom.
If a 32-inch 720p set is still of interest, you'll be able to spend as little as $70. Target has a Polaroid set for that price, and Best Buy is responding with a Hisense set for $80.
We expect to see a decent number of these types of TVs as low-cost doorbusters. But there will also be some 1080p smart TVs for as little as $100, with more in the $120 to $130 range. Most of the TVs will use either the Roku or Amazon Fire TV smart TV platforms.
39- to 43-Inch TVs
This category could get more interesting this year because these are the smallest screen sizes where 4K resolution starts to take hold. And with more 4K TVs available this year, there should be added price pressure on 1080p models, which could hit new lows of about $150. There also could be an occasional off-brand doorbuster for $120.
This year we're expecting to see more 40- to 43-inch 4K models in the sub-$200 price formerly occupied by 1080p models. For example, 40- and 43-inch 1080 smart TVs starting at about $150, and sets with 4K resolution starting at about $200, from brands including Samsung and Vizio.
49- and 50-Inch TVs
We expect this size category to be especially hot this year, as the action moves from regular HDTVs to 4K models, in a screen size that’s large enough to be a main TV for many people. We expect there to be one or two 4K sets this size, from a secondary brand such as Element or Westinghouse, for as little as $150. Although prices probably won't go much lower than that, there could be a wider range of deals in that sub-$200 price band. However, the sweet spot is likely to be in the $250 to $300 range for a decent-performing TV from a better-known brand.
In general, getting a 55-inch set as opposed to a 50-inch model will likely add about $30 to the cost of the least expensive sets. So you'll see at least a few 55-inch 4K TV deals in the $225 to $250 range during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday time frame. But there will also likely be a few sub-$200 doorbusters from brands you may not recognize, such as a 55-inch 4K Roku TV from Element for $180. But we expect sets from major brands in this screen size to start at about $300.
This year we're expecting the 58-inch category to draw attention thanks to a new low price for 4K sets this size—$200—from retail private-label brands, such as Onn TVs from Walmart and Insignia sets from Best Buy. There will also be a few models, also from secondary brands, for under $300.
Just a year ago, a 65-inch set still seemed like a giant TV to a lot of people. But that screen size has become more common during the past 12 months and is quickly being surpassed by even larger models. That’s why we're expecting to see a lot of action on 65-inch 4K models with HDR this year.
So how low could prices go? We expect to see sub-$300 sets from brands such as Element, Philips, and Westinghouse, and perhaps Hisense. Major brands will get into the act in the $400 to $500 range, though there will be a very wide array of prices in this size category. Top-tier models from the major brands will still command prices of $1,000 or more, while the least expensive 65-inch OLED TVs will still cost $1,800 to $2,000. Though still comparatively pricey, it's about $500 less than at last year's sales.
One note, however: While many of the least expensive TVs can do well for HD, few can do a great job with 4K content with HDR. If HDR is important to you, check our ratings if you're a CR member to see how the set did for this attribute. Although all these TVs will claim HDR capability, our lab tests of cheaper TVs with HDR showed that most couldn’t provide the brightness needed to deliver effective HDR performance.
70-Inch and Larger TVs
Don't be surprised to see a $500 70-inch set this year, because you're no longer paying a huge premium to move beyond a 65-inch set. We've already seen a Samsung at Best Buy's sale for $550, and we expect more major brands to have 4K smart TV models priced between $550 and $700 this year. We think 75-inch TVs will start at about $750 but run the price gamut up to $2,300 for top-performing models from major brands.
For those looking to go even bigger, expect to pay at least $1,500 to $1,600 for the least expensive 82-inch sets, and at least $2,000 for a jumbo 86-inch model.
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