Wal-Mart's Black Friday circular includes a healthy variety of HDTVs. Videophiles looking for high-performance televisions will likely want to line up elsewhere, but there are a few decent deals to be had for those looking to score a respectable HDTV at an equally respectable price.
Among sets from major manufacturers, the 40-inch Sony Bravia KDL-40S504 looks to be worth a second glance. As we noted in an earlier post, the TV is similar to Sony's more widely available KDL-40S5100. While not impressed with the Black Friday prices we'd seen elsewhere for the KDL-40S504 -- for example $663 at Best Buy and $665 at Sears -- the $598 price Wal-Mart is offering puts things into a different light. By comparison, the Sony KDL-40S5100 typically sells for around $720, though it can be found for less on occasion.
In terms of performance, the KDL-40S5100/S504 is a reasonable choice for a budget buyer. It is Sony's lowest-cost 40-inch 1080p HDTV, but features are otherwise few and far between. Some picture defects are noted in reviews, but image quality is actually pretty good overall, with better-than-average black levels for a low-priced LCD TV, as well as good color performance.
If you want a bigger screen, the 46-inch Sony Bravia KDL-46S504 at Wal-Mart's Black Friday price of $798 is a similarly worthwhile deal. Again, other stores are selling it for more on Black Friday (such as Sears, where it's $855), and the similar Sony Bravia KDL-46S5100 typically sells for around $980. Pluses and minuses are the same as the 40-inch version. The KDL-46S504 is a true doorbuster, and is being offered from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Black Friday morning only. The 40-inch Sony KDL-40S504 is available all day.
Unfortunately, in terms of deals, few of Wal-Mart's other Black Friday TV specials are worth losing sleep over. The 32-inch Emerson LC320EMFX is generating some buzz for its low price, at just $248. However, user reviews suggest some reliability problems, leading us to recommend that you skip that Friday morning doorbuster deal altogether.
Some Samsung TVs being promoted in Wal-Mart's circular as "Saturday only" specials are much better performers, but there's nothing special about their prices. For example, the 32-inch Samsung LN32B360 is being sold on Saturday at Wal-Mart for $398. However, you can buy it at the same price right now from several retailers, including Amazon.com, and we've seen it cheaper still on occasion.