There's the TV you put in your living room, the one you splurge on to get a mammoth screen, built-in apps, a top-rated picture, and the like.
Then there's the TV you buy for the basement, the game room, the den, the kids. The one that can get dinged up a little bit and who cares?
This is that TV. While supplies last, TigerDirect has the TCL LE39FHDF3300 39-inch LED HDTV for $249.99, plus around $13 for shipping. The good news: it's new, not refurbished. The "bad" news: you'll have to sit tight on an $80 mail-in rebate (PDF), which comes in the form of a prepaid credit card.
I call it "bad" news because I don't mind rebates. Sure, I'd rather get the savings up front, but when that $80 arrives in 8 to 10 weeks, it feels like found money. And I think the days of crooked rebate deals are long behind us: As long as you dot the I's, cross the T's, and keep good documentation, you should get your money. No doubt I'll hear from some of you who feel differently.
The TCL is a 60Hz model with LED backlighting, 1080p resolution, an 8ms response time, and something rather surprising: a two-year warranty. I have no experience with TCL, so I don't know what it's like getting service from them, but I do know most TVs in this class have only a one-year warranty. That's gotta count for something.
The only real downside I can see is that the LE39FHDF3300 has just two HDMI ports. Cable box: check. Roku box: check. Anything else: d'oh! Obviously you can add an inexpensive HDMI hub to expand the number of available ports, but obviously it would be nice if the TV had at least one more built in.
Also, it measures around 3.6 inches deep, so it's not a superslim LCD -- but, really, so what? Once it's up on your wall or sitting on your TV stand, who cares how thick it is?
The really important issue is this: What did other buyers think of it? Answer: They thought it rated 4.4 stars out of 5 on average. That's a pretty impressive score for what is clearly an entry-level TV. And with a final price of $250 plus shipping, this is a hard bargain to beat.