Thanksgiving is near once again, indeed one of my favorite holidays of the year (yes, even if I am up in Canada...) however, that also means Black Friday.
Sure, there's loads of holiday deals and pitches to try and get you to open your wallet. Keep in mind though, this is also a great time of the year to grab some much needed electronic equipment for your business, in particular, keep an eye open on deals for tablets, PCs, smartphones, and GPS devices. As they do always, Retrevo has provided some excellent resources to help you out this Black Friday. Read on for some tech pointers and warnings or things to maybe stay away from.
Black Friday 2011 is almost here. We've been analyzing the deals on electronics from HDTV sets to digital cameras and have turned up some real deals and some duds. We see some great deals like a Sharp 42-inch 1080p TV for $199 at Best Buy although we suspect supplies will be limited on killer deals like this one. On the other hand, we also found some deals that don't look as sweet like the $78 Magnavox Blu-ray player at Walmart that has been offered in past Black Friday deals. We list more deals to avoid in this companion article but here are some picks and recommendations:
*Amazon hadn't announced their prices as we put this list together but we're sure Amazon will be offering some very compelling deals
HDTV Bargains Come in All Sizes
If you're looking for a small TV to put on the counter, bedside or next to Grandma's chair there are some under $100 small screen sets worth considering. There are plenty of larger screen deals to consider as well even some 3D sets.
Samsung 55-inch D6000 LCD TV for $1099 at Sears
This TV offers some attractive features for the price. You get 120Hz, LED backlight and connectivity all for $400 off the normal price.
Dynex 24-inch 1080p LCD TV, $79 at Best Buy
Dynex is Best Buy's house brand which we understand is made by a Thai electronics manufacturer named Orion. Even though you don't really need 1080p on a set this size, it might make DVDs and games look better and it's hard to turn down at $79.
Sharp 42-inch 1080p LCD TV, $199.99 and 60-inch AQUOS for $799 at Best Buy
This TV could work well in a living room or bedroom. This model has 4 HDMI ports along with a VGA port to hook up to a computer. Best Buy is also offering a 60-inch, 120Hz Sharp LCD TV for $799. Sears is also offering a 60-inch Sharp AQUOS for $999 which is still a good buy for a 60-inch TV.
Vizio 42-inch Passive 3DTV Set for $598 at Walmart (M3D420SR)
Passive glasses are less expensive and don't need batteries but some say passive 3DTVs don't look as good as active ones. In any case this LED backlit, 240Hz, connected LCD TV looks like a good deal to us. It also comes with four pairs of passive glasses.
Westinghouse 46-inch 1080p LCD TV for $298 at Target
A Westinghouse LCD TV seems to get rolled out for Black Friday every year. We hear it's actually a decent TV and for $298 this 46-inch TV would make a good replacement for that old CRT TV.
Sony BDPS580 Blu-ray Player is $109 at Best Buy
Although there are cheaper players available this one is 3D compatible, has built-in Wi-Fi and offers features like fast load times. Slow load times can be annoying on players that seem to take forever to load a disc.
Laptop Deals Are Everywhere, Tablets Not so Much
Even though a recent Retrevo Pulse report indicated that tablets are higher on many holiday wish lists there are many deals on laptops with state-of-the-art processors, big hard drives, and lots of memory. Meanwhile, tablet deals are few and far between. You won't find any discounted iPads this Black Friday and the $249 Nook Tablet and $199 Amazon Kindle Fire are hard to beat but there also some interesting tablet deals to be found.
HP Pavilion for $399 at Office Max
Office Max looks like the place to go for laptops and printers this year. This HP 15.6-inch laptop comes with 4GB of RAM and a big 500GB hard drive.
Toshiba 15.6-inch Laptop for $399 at Office Depot
The Toshiba L755-S5366 comes with 6GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It also has a Sandy Bridge Core i3 processor.
Lenovo Laptop for $179 at Best Buy
This 15.6-inch laptop doesn't offer a lot of memory (2GB) or Intel processors but for $179 you still get a dual-core AMD-based laptop for a great price.
Asus Transformer for $249 at Best Buy
You get a 10-inch screen on this Android tablet with 16GB or storage and a dual core processor and you can buy a $99 keyboard for it that turns it into a laptop (minus the Windows OS).
Toshiba Thrive for $279 at Best Buy
Even though you can buy this tablet now for just a little more than this price, the Thrive is a worthy Android tablet that is about to get an update to Android 3.2 (Honeycomb). The Thrive runs on a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and includes lots of connectors like a USB port and an SD card slot. The Thrive sold for around $500 when it first went on sale.
Acer Iconia Tablet for $299 at Staples
The Iconia tablet also runs Honeycomb and comes with 16GB of storage and includes a GPS.
Digital Cameras and Camcorders
Are Still Better Than Most Smartphones
Even though smartphones with 8MP cameras and 1080p video are doing their best to make digital cameras (at least point and shoot ones), most good quality cameras still take better pictures than most phones.
Nikon CoolpixS8100 for $149 at Best Buy
This 12.1 MP camera normally sells for well over $200. It offers a 10x optical zoom, large 3-inch display and the ability to shoot 1080p video.
Kodak C1450 for $49 at Walmart
Although there's not a lot of data on this camera a similar Kodak Easyshare gets decent marks. We say you're on your own but a 14MP camera with a 5x optical zoom for $49 is hard to resist.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS for $149 at Best Buy
Although $149 is not a super deal for this camera which you can buy now on Amazon for $177, it's a highly rated 12MP point and shoot camera.
Multifunction Printers Are Cheaper Than the Ink for Them
For under $100 you can get a printer, copier, scanner, fax, combo. The only thing you have to be careful about is the cost of the ink. You might want to see if third party ink is available on places like Ebay.
Canon PIXMA MX870 for $79 at Office Max
This multifunction device offers wireless connectivity and duplex printing along with the ability to make high resolution 9600 x 2400 photo quality prints. Staples has the PIXMA M882 for $89
Brother HL-2280DW for $99.99 at Staples
If you don't need a color printer, this laser multifunction printer is fast and relatively cheap on consumables. It's wireless too.
Despite the fact that many people are using their smartphones as GPS devices, stand-alone GPS units still over a better GPS than most phones.
Garmin nuvi 50LM for $109 at Staples
This a large 5-inch screen GPS with spoken directions and a lifetime subscription to maps updates.
Garmin nuvi 1450LM for $129 at Office Max
If you want to move up to a 5-inch touchscreen Garmin GPS with lifetime maps you can go for the 1450LM.
TomTom 1505M for $89 at Target
This GPS doesn't get quite as good reviews as the Garmins but you still get a 5-inch GPS with lifetime maps (always look for the "M" in the model) for a lot less than the Garmins.
You won't find many Apple products listed in Black Friday sales and the Apple Store won't be offering many great deals but there may be a few discounts here and there to make buying an Apple product even more attractive.
iPod Touch With a Gift Card
The $195 price for an 8GB iPod Touch doesn't look like a great deal until you consider the gift card that comes along with it. Several stores like Toys R Us and Best Buy are offering a $45 - $50 gift card along with the Touch.
Mixed in with some great bargains this year are some questionable ones like a $38 Toshiba Blu-ray player that requires a $49 adapter to make its Wi-Fi work.
LG 47-inch LCD TV and 42-inch Panasonic at Sears
Although a nice LED backlit LCD TV, the 47LV4400 is listed on Sears' Black Friday deals for $679.99 but is available on Amazon for just $9 more. Similarly the TC-L42E3 listed for $599.99 at Sears is selling for that same price now at B&H Photo.
Panasonic TC-P50S30 50-inch Plasma for $699
We hate to pick on Sears but it looks Best Buy is selling this set for $100 less on Black Friday.
Is Toshiba Blu-ray Player's Price Too Good?
We've seen the Toshiba BDX2150 "connected" Blu-ray player listed for as low as $39 which looks like an irresistible deal if you don't mind hooking up an Ethernet cable. If you want to use its Wi-Fi "ready" capability you'll need to buy a $49 adapter. We think you might be better off spending more for a Sony connected Blu-ray player seen from $79 - $109.
Magnavox Blu-ray Player Makes Annual Appearance
This Blu-ray player gets trotted out every year on Black Friday. Not that it's a terrible player for $79, we just think there are some better players to consider.
Not All Core i3 Laptops Are Equal
Intel didn't make it easy for consumers to spot the new Sandy Bridge versions of the Core i3, i5, or i7 chips. The easy way to tell is that new versions have four numbers in the model (i.e. Core i3 21xx)while older versions have three. For example the HP laptop offered by Office Max for $389 touts a Core i3 but the -370M suffix gives it away. At least this version has the graphics engine built in.
BlackBerry Playbook is No Bargain at $199
Yes, the Playbook is a well designed, good looking 7-inch tablet that is selling for a lot less than originally intended but it runs RIMs own OS not Android and so you won't have that huge library of apps available to download.
Why Buy a Non-HD Camcorder?
This Sony DCR-SX85 camcorder normally sells for around $250 and Best Buy will offer it at $149 on Black Friday. It has 16GB of Flash memory and offers a long 60x optical zoom but it doesn't shoot HD video.