New Yorkers who decided to wait until after the holidays to buy an HD set win big, with CE stores offering dozens of models for less than $1K. During a tour of three Manhattan CE outlets we found no CableCARDs and few digital cable or DBS pitches. There were plenty of bargains on HDTVs, though. “We don’t sell those,” Shantae, the sales rep at Best Buy (86th St. and Lexington Ave., the former location of Cablevision‘s Nobody Beats The Wiz store), said when asked if we could buy an HDTV that could decode cable programming without a set-top. “They stopped making them,” said Dave at PC Richards, when asked if he carried TVs equipped with CableCARD slots (new, two-way sets will soon carry the tru2way moniker, following NCTA / Comcast / Panasonic announcements in Jan at CES). Same response down the block from Circuit City. But it was the only store with pitches from Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, featuring a display containing five DirecTV set-tops and one S-A ( Cisco labels hadn’t arrived) box wired to HDTVs. CC offered up to $700 in savings on HDTVs $999 and up, including $300 off a DirecTV programming package. Time Warner pitched $100 in savings with the activation of an HDTV package. Best Buy had spots for Comcastic HD programming running in a loop on HD sets, but ironically no Time Warner Cable pitches (the closest Comcast systems are in NJ). Cheapest HD sets were the $209.99, 15-inch Insignia and $249, 19-inch Dynex LCD models at Best Buy. Best bargain on the biggest set was the $5,599, 60-inch Pioneer plasma at PC Richards. Best deals below $1,000: the 32-inch Sony LCD and the 37-inch LG. Both cost $999 at Best Buy.