Though a few okay deals can be found, the Black Friday circulars leaked so far haven't held a lot of excitement for those looking to score a home-theater bargain for the holidays. The Best Buy Black Friday circular looks like more of the same for the most part, but one combo deal, a 50-inch Panasonic Viera TC-P50U1 plasma TV and a Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-ray player for just under $1,000, made us sit up a little. Taken together, it looks like a little better discount for decent tech than we've seen from many other retailers. Let's dig a little deeper.
The TC-P50U1 is Panasonic's least expensive 50-inch plasma with 1080p resolution. We only spotted one professional review of it at TelevisionInfo.com. David Kender says that the TC-P50U1 is missing a lot of fancy (and sometimes pointless) features, but does deliver "acceptable performance for a decent price." Blacks are deep and rich, and the wide viewing angle makes it easy to gather the family for a night of TV viewing. However some picture defects are seen, including whites that could be brighter. There isn't a ton of user feedback on the TC-P50U1, but most that have something to say seem pleased enough with the TV. Forgetting the Blu-ray player, Best Buy's sale price is about $200 below what the Panasonic Viera TC-P50U1 normally sells for, which makes it an okay deal in its own right.
However, the last thing you should do is forget about the Blu-ray player. It normally sells for an average of $150 (though prices vary widely), meaning that this deal can save you about $350 all told, assuming, of course, that you want or need a pretty good Blu-ray player as well.
While the Panasonic DMP-BD60K doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of higher-priced Blu-ray players, it has all of the necessities and then some, including full support for all Blu-ray Disc features. It's a little slower at startup than some of its competition, but once things get going, Blu-ray Discs look terrific, and upscaled DVDs look pretty good, too. Reviewers and owners like it enough that we've made the Panasonic DMP-BD60K our pick as the best no-frills Blu-ray player around. You can read more about it in our report on Blu-ray players.