Last year in early February we answered the question "Is now the best time to buy a TV?" with a resounding "probably."
Now the answer is closer to "probably not." This year I haven't seen the same kinds of drastic post-holiday price drops as TV makers sell off their 2011 stock to make room for 2012 TVs. Most of best prices for 2011 seemed to have came around Black Friday and the holidays, and those fire sales mean some 2011 TVs are already sold out completely.
That said, there are still a few great deals to be had if you're looking to scoop up a 2011 TV now. No matter what, you'll definitely save a few hundred or more over the 2012 models, and most of the time the picture quality is just as good.
Even if I do end up proclaiming the Panasonic ST50 much better than the already excellent ST30, for example, you should still take solace in saving $500 or more over the ST50's list price. If that sounds like small consolation, then do yourself a favor and wait until the 2012 reviews are out and, if you can, until prices begin to fall in earnest again next November.
The following five TVs are listed in descending order of bang-for-buck, and unless otherwise noted, prices are current at Amazon as of press time. To qualify for this list the TV had to have earned a "6" or higher in picture quality from a CNET review last year.
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