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updated 2/2/2012 12:50:21 PM ET 2012-02-02T17:50:21

 

The biggest sports event of the year is always a handy excuse to upgrade to a larger TV, and stores such as Best Buy and Target are busting out the sale tags. “It’s probably second only to Black Friday in terms of overall volume and the amount of deals available,” said Kristy Welker, a Target spokeswoman. “For the Super Bowl, big-screen TVs are the most popular.”

But this year the sizes are getting whacky.

How about a 92-inch screen? That’s more than seven a half feet from corner to corner. Best Buy is selling a Mitsubishi rear-projection version for $4,000. Bulky projection TVs are going out of style, though. If you can settle for just under six feet, try a 70-inch Sharp model selling for $2,000 at Best Buy.

That size isn’t so crazy anymore. “In LCD, it's not uncommon to see 65-inch sets,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association. And TV makers showed off 75-inch models at the Association’s annual show last month, so DuBravac says to watch for models that size later this year.

At the massive Best Buy store on Union Square in Manhattan, operations manager

Eddie Mora said that the 70-inch Sharp was in stock, along with plenty in the 46-55-inch range, such as a 55-inch Samsung LED TV for $1,200. That’s all hard to fathom in a city of such tiny apartments. But with their home team in the game this year, Giants fans may put emotion over logistics.

Don’t feel left out if your current TV is smaller, even a lot smaller. DuBravac estimates that the average screen size people buy is about 37 inches. Target, for example, has discounted a basic 37-inch Westinghouse TV to $300.

Beyond Size

Many of the TVs on sale provide more than square footage, however. Large models tend to have advanced features like Internet connections and 3D capability, said Gary Merson, editor of the site HD Guru. And those features will keep trickling down. “Next year all the sets are going to have 3D, except the entry models,” Merson said.

But don’t rush to get a new set just so you can watch the game in 3D. While many sporting events are broadcast in an extra dimension, the Super Bowl is not yet one of them. However, some Internet-connected TVs will run apps, such as ESPN ScoreCenter, which can keep you up-to-date on other games.

Sony is offering a lot of deals this year, Merson explained, because it’s thinning out its product lines. “They have orphan models they need to get rid of,” he said.

But he feels that the best deals are from Panasonic and Samsung (Target, for example, is selling for $1,099 a 46-inch connected Samsung LCD packed with acronyms, including 1080p resolution and LED backlighting.)

Merson recommends plasma TVs for sports, saying that they render motion more sharply than LCD (and LED-LCD) TVs do. But as to quality, he says it’s no longer an issue with any of the name brands, such as LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba. “They don’t make bad sets. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

He left off the list other brands that may make good sets but don’t have the best service terms, such as replacement policy. “In many circumstances, under warranty, they’ll offer you a refurbished TV,” he said. “And I don’t want someone else’s headache.”

Both Amazon and Best Buy have generous 30-day, no-penalty-return policies. Amazon pays return shipping. And if Best Buy delivers a TV, it will also come to pick it up (for sets priced at $899 or more).

With such enormous screens and liberal options policies, do people ever buy monster TVs for their Super Bowl parties, then send them back?

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that myself directly,” Best Buy's Mora said.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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