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Gird yourself for the TV feeding frenzy

A TV bought on Black Friday, especially at a classic "doorbuster" sale, had better be as cheap as possible. But you shouldn't regret buying it.

That's the philosophy I espoused in compiling the following list. I combed the major circulars, courtesy of BestBlackFriday.com, and found the cheapest TVs I'd actually recommend someone buy.

Since I haven't actually reviewed any of them, my recommendations are based on guesswork, namely whether I think they'll be good values based on TVs I have reviewed, brand reputation and size/cost ratio.

The list includes a few TVs from Amazon. The advantage is you can buy them without braving the stampede at your local big-box merchant. The downside is there's no telling when during the company's eight-day Black Friday sale (starting November 20 through Black Friday) they'll actually go on sale. See Amazon's Black Friday page for details.

Most of the other deals are in-store only and subject to limited availability, as well as potential sell-out, vendor guarantees notwithstanding.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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32 inches: No-name TV ($75, Amazon)

Amazon holds down the coveted spot of "cheapest TV on the list" by matching its Prime Day price on this TV of uncertain provenance.

At 32 inches for $75, whether it's any good is largely irrelevant.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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32 inches: Westinghouse TV ($99, Target and Kohl's)

Not that I necessarily think off-brand is better than no brand at this price, but two generalist megastores have a 32-inch Westinghouse "in-store only" doorbuster for under a Franklin.

Bonus: If you happen to live near a Shopko, they're offering a 32-inch Seiki doorbuster for $79.

Published:Caption:Photo:Kohl's
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32-inches: TCL Roku Smart TV ($125, Amazon and Walmart)

The slightly-less-coveted spot of "cheapest good TV" belongs to TCL's smallest Roku-equipped model. I expect this set to be (or be very similar to) the TCL FS3800 series I really liked, and to perform much faster than the $25 Roku SE streaming box.

Published:Caption:Photo:Walmart

32 inches: RCA TV/DVD player combo ($174, BJ's)

If you care more about spinning physical discs than streaming Internet video, this old-school combi TV is just the cheap ticket.

Sears also has one for $199, in case BJ's isn't convenient (or you don't know a member).

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49 inches: Toshiba TV ($149, Best Buy)

Offering the best combination of rock-bottom price, living-room size and a brand you've actually heard of, this Toshi--an in-store only special--is sure to cause stampedes.

As usual I can't vouch for its quality, but at $3 per inch of diagonal screen size, my best guess is "good e-friggin'-nuff!"

Published:Caption:Photo:Best Buy
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50 inches: No-name TV ($149, Amazon)

So it's not a Toshiba, for what that's worth, but you can buy it while in your pajamas. If you get lucky enough to secure one at Amazon before they sell out.

Note that this is an "app-only deal," meaning you'll need to use Amazon's mobile app to take advantage.

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55 inches: Westinghouse TV ($249, Target)

Westinghouse isn't much better than a no-name model, and I doubt the image quality is anything to write home about, but this is one cheap 55-inch TV.

Published:Caption:Photo:Target
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55 inches: TCL Roku Smart TV ($349, Amazon)

Yes, we really like Roku TVs by TCL and other makers, and this is a great price for the largest size.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

60 inches: Vizio M60-C3 ($799, Dell.com, Amazon?)

There are plenty of 4K TVs on sale for Black Friday, but this is the cheapest one we'd actually recommend buying.

The M series is one of our favorite sets this year, and one of the only ones on this list we've reviewed and can fully recommend without guessing at its picture quality.

While Dell calls out this set by name, Amazon just calls its deal a "top-selling 60-inch 4K LED TV," but I'm guessing it's this one, too.

Update 11/25: Other sizes in the M, E and D series are on sale now at Vizio.com, with mostly matching prices at Amazon too. None of the discounts are as deep as this one though.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

60 inches: Samsung UN60JU6390 ($799, Best Buy)

If you don't want to go Vizio, this cut-rate 4K Samsung might be more your speed. I don't expect it to perform as well as the Vizio M series, however, because its specs aren't as good as the Samsung UNJU7100 that I did review.

Published:Caption:Photo:Best Buy
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70 inches: Vizio TV ($898, Walmart)

Walmart's ad doesn't specify the exact model, but this is most likely the E series, making it a great bargain for a huge, good-performing TV.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

75 inches: Samsung 1080p TV ($1,999, hhgregg, Sears, Amazon)

All three retailers are offering this non-4K Samsung in a ginormous size for a relatively low price...for a Samsung.

Our preferred pick at this size would be Vizio's M75-C1, a 4K model, but it's a bit more expensive at around $2,500 right now, and we haven't seen it featured at any Black Friday sales. Still, if you can afford the extra scratch, it will outperform this Samsung.

Published:Caption:Photo:Samsung
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