Black Friday: HD Price War Goes Full Bore

Those still looking for an "excuse" to finally make the HD jump may need to look no further than Black Friday, Nov. 24. Although some big-box stores, notably Wal-Mart, began offering limited sales prices on HD monitors, next-gen DVD players, surround sound systems and other assorted HD-centric accessories before this week, a widening array of price cuts by retailers is set for traditional Black Friday.

A few Web sites such as Black Friday 2006 which manage to get their hands on advanced copies of newspaper ad inserts that are often printed weeks in advance, say HD products will garner a great deal of attention this year, despite other hot CE products such as game consoles and music players. A sampling of Black Friday HD price points at our deadline this week (and there are tons more out there) include:

• Olevia 27-inch LCD for $500 and Sylvania 42-inch plasma for $945 at BJ's
• Vizio 42-inch plasma for $1,000 (valid Nov. 24 only) at Costco
• Panasonic 52-inch LCD projection for $1,000 at Circuit City
• Toshiba 32-inch LCD for $800 at Best Buy
• Viore 42-inch plasma for $998 and Symphony 32-inch LCD for $598 at Wal-Mart

Not all deals are being advertised in newspaper inserts. According to Best Buy's Web site, the CE chain will offer a Panasonic 42-inch plasma HD unit (model TH-42PX60U) for $1,000 after in-store rebates, equaling Wal-Mart's and Costco's pricing for comparable size and type, but $55 more than BJ's.

Black Friday may conjure up images of crowded malls, long lines and cranky shoppers, but the day after Thanksgiving didn't even rank as one of the top five busiest holiday shopping days last year, according to a report released by MasterCard Worldwide this week. (The day after Thanksgiving '05 was sixth for sales numbers.)

The MasterCard report also found there likely will not be a huge surge in online shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, which has been called "Cyber Monday" in recent years. Instead, the report predicts most consumers will likely put off their holiday shopping until closer to Christmas. Last year's biggest sales day was Dec. 23.