If you’re on a tight budget, you’re probably looking to buy a cheap plasma TV model. You must keep in mind however, that quality has a price and it is simply impossible to get a top-quality plasma TV if you don’t have a certain amount of money. That being said, there are plasma HDTV models that offer a great price to quality ratio. They are not the best, however their quality is very good for what you have to pay for them.
How to Buy a Cheap Plasma TV
Buying a cheap plasma TV is not just about finding an inexpensive model but more importantly about not paying for what you don’t need. That way, instead of loosing in the quality department by spending your money on unnecessary features, you take the opposite approach – put picture quality first and features second.
- Figure out what is the best screen size for you. Read Plasma TV Screen Size & Optimal Viewing Distance guide to find out what is the best screen size for your viewing distance and type of content that you watch most of the time. If the right size for you is in the smaller range (42-50 inch) it will cost you less.
- If you can’t afford the optimal screen size for 1080p content, buy a TV with 720p native resolution (which naturally is cheaper) because a 1080p set would not give you any advantages.
- If your budget is not extremely tight and you don’t need a large TV, you can find models with picture quality close to that of top of the line models, but without all the features in those more expensive models. This way, you can get exceptional quality while paying a bit less. However, if your budget is very tight, you are stuck to budget entry-level models.
So what is the cheapest plasma TV on the market? Well, prices change very often depending on buying volume, so today a model might be the cheapest while tomorrow it could be some other model. Models below are ordered by quality, from best to less good. The cheapest model should be at the bottom; however because of the fluctuating nature of prices, this is not a guarantee.
Plasma TVs with Best Price to Quality Ratio (Mid-End)
Panasonic S1 Series (1080p)
The plasma TVs in Panasonic S1 Series are not really budget models. They are closer to the high-end models than to cheap low-end ones. The quality of these plasma HDTVs though not the best, is very good. At the same time, because they lack many “exotic” features present on high-end models, their price is much lower. In other words, you pay less but you still get a very good picture quality.
- Panasonic TC-P42S1 (42 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
- Panasonic TC-P46S1 (46 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
- Panasonic TC-P50S1 (50 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
- Panasonic TC-P54S1 (54 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
Samsung B550 Series (1080p)
Samsung B550 plasma TVs are the competitors of Panasonic S1 models and resemble them in many ways. Compared to Panasonic’s S1, the B550 plasma TVs from Samsung have somewhat less impressive black levels but better color accuracy. These plasma TVs, just as Panasonic S1, have only a basic feature set without any fancy stuff. These Samsung plasma TVs are also the cheapest models that come in large sizes (58 and 63 inch). If you really want a large HDTV and you can’t afford one of the top of the line models, the B550 series from Samsung is the way to go.
Cheap Plasma TVs (Low-End)
Panasonic X1 Series (720p)
Plasma television sets in Panasonic X1 series are the best entry-level 720p models on the market. Naturally they are not as impressive as the high-end models, or the S1 series above, however taking the price into consideration they are great. If you’re looking for the best 720p plasma TV, this is it.
- Panasonic TC-P42X1 (42 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
- Panasonic TC-P50X1 (50 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
Samsung B450 Series (720p)
The competitor of X1 above, Samsung B450 plasma TV models are another group of good cheap plasma TVs. As a matter of fact the entire B4** set of models from Samsung are 720p and cheap, however the B540 probably has the best balance between price and quality.
- Samsung PN50B450 (50 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
- Samsung PN42B450 (42 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
Panasonic X14 Series (720p)
This is a step-down from Panasonic X1. They are cheap but you should seriously consider the X1 models because they are better. It’s easy to confuse them when looking at the model numbers but try to avoid that.
- Panasonic TC-42PX14 (42 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
- Panasonic TC-50PX14 (50 inch)
Panasonic U1 Series (1080p)
Panasonic U1 is a mass-market entry level 1080p plasma TV. Between this and the X1, the latter has a better picture even though it has 720p native resolution. The U1 models are targeted at those consumers that go in a store and want a TV but don’t research much so they don’t know that though it has 1080p resolution there are other better models.
- Panasonic TC-P42U1 (42 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
- Panasonic TC-P46U1 (46 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
- Panasonic TC-P50U1 (50 inch) – Buy from Amazon.com (or see price)
Panasonic C1 Series (720p)
This is the 720p brother of U1 series. In other words, while it is the cheapest, it is not offering a very good picture quality. It is aimed at those that want a cheap plasma TV and don’t care too much about the picture quality. If you want a cheap plasma TV, you should strongly consider Panasonic X1 models instead, as they offer a better quality.