Technology

Black Friday 2017 Tech Deals: How To Spot A True Deal, And Some Of The Best And Worst

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The best deals on Black Friday are almost always tech based. Steep discounts on televisions, tempting new computers, and all sorts of other holiday goodies abound. But, is it really a deal? Or can you get it better somewhere else?

  • Some deals really are a slam dunk. It’s worth noting, even though we’re going to encourage you to be skeptical, that some deals really are as good as they look. For example, if you’re in the market for a voice assistant, or know somebody who is, the Google Home Mini is a pretty good one, and Target is not only selling it for $30, well below the price Google will offer you at $50, you get a $10 gift card for buying one. Or if you want a small tablet, Best Buy has the iPad Mini 4, the most recent iPad Mini, for $275, a far lower price than you’ll find anywhere else.
  • Beware the doorbuster. Similarly, Target’s deal on the Chromecast, which knocks $10 off the $35 price, is a great deal. But? It’s a doorbuster, or, in other words? It’s bait. Doorbusters are designed to, well, bust doors, to get people in early to grab one thing and then wander the store yanking things off the shelves. The tricky part is doorbusters are almost always limited in supply, so only the early birds get the deal. Everybody else walks in, can’t find it, and then they’ve got you.
  • Who made it? That said, you’ll quickly wander into the weeds, especially in categories like TVs. For example, one name you’ll see in Walmart and Best Buy‘s circulars, is Element Electronics, with a 39″ smart TV. But Element only gets mediocre ratings on Amazon, although it definitely does better than other brands we looked at.
  • What’s in a name? Shoppers this year will likely be surprised to find names like Polaroid on TVs, but that’s because Polaroid was acquired lock, stock, and barrel by a Polish investor who’s licensing out the name rights. They’re hoping you’ll trust the Polaroid name, or at least have heard of it. So don’t trust the name on the box; find out who really made it.
  • Is it last year’s deal? All throughout the circulars, you’ll be spotting steep, steep deals on the Xbox One S. And while it’s a great console, the reason it’s dropped below $200? Microsoft just debuted the Xbox One X, a more advanced model that delivers 4K graphics while still playing all the Xbox One games and more and more Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. So, while it’s still a console worth playing, know what you’re committing to when you buy it. Unless you don’t care and are just getting it for a streaming box.
  • Do you know exactly what you’re buying? It’s important to be able to do your research. For example, Best Buy has a steep price cut on a 50″ 4K Sharp TV with smart TV features for $180, but it’s “only at Best Buy.” Fortunately, you can find it on the site, and it looks like the $320 price is indeed a deal. But what about the Westinghouse 55″ smart TV that Target’s offering? The one that has gotten buried on Amazon. Don’t trust a deal where you can’t figure out just what it is.

Black Friday can be a time to get great deals, but it also needs to be approached with a saver’s eye. Keeping your head will keep your wallet reasonably full and your face off the nightly news. Unless someone decks a grandma over a toaster, then maybe it’s OK to go full Worldstar.

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