I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like the frenzy this year over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With the economy still sluggish, retailers, both online and brick and mortar, are competing for your consumer electronics dollar like never before. That, of course, creates an opportunity to buy the PC, printer, or TV of your dreams for a lot less than you would have a week ago.
But as Andrew Eisner, of Retrevo.com, a shopping advice site, points out: “A lot of merchants are using the holiday to clear out inventory of older or less popular products. So watch out for that.”
With help from Eisner, a savvy technophile I’ve known for years, I’ve checked out some of the best deals that you might have missed on Black Friday, plus some new ones that rolled out Monday morning. And I’ll steer you away from a few turkeys that didn’t even look good on Thanksgiving.
Every major manufacturer, with the notable exception of Apple, is offering major discounts. All of them sell online, of course, but don’t forget to check out the Web sites, or the physical stores including Best Buy, Office Max, Staples and even Target.
Before I list a few deals I spotted on the retail sites, let me give you one word of caution. If you’re buying a PC with an Intel processor inside, make sure that it contains a relatively new CPU that is part of the Sandy Bridge family. They are the i3, i5 and i7. However, some older PCs (remember what I said about clearing inventory) contain chips with those names followed by a three-digit serial number. Avoid those, and look for chips with a four-digit number, or you’ll be stuck with a much less capable processor.
HP Pavilion for $399 at Office Max
Office Max looks like a surprisingly good 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. It runs on an AMD processor, which is just fine. (One caveat: I’ve found the sales help at Office Max to be friendly, but somewhat clueless about technology, so you’re on your own once you get there.)
Lenovo Laptop for $179 at Best Buy
This 15.6-inch laptop doesn’t offer a lot of memory (2GB) or Intel processors, but at $179 you’re still getting a dual-core AMD-based laptop for a great price.
Toshiba – Satellite Laptop, $379.99 at Best Buy
It sports a 15.6-inch LED-backlit display, Intel Sandy Bridge Core i3-2330M processor, 4GB memory, 320GB hard drive, and optical drive.
Dell Inspiron 14R, $699 online
The 14R is a 14-inch laptop with 6GB of memory, an i5 processor and a 500GB hard drive. What I like about this deal is that it is bundled with the entry-level Canon ELPH 100 digital camera and Adobe Photoshop Elements & Premier Elements 9 — just what you need to start shooting and processing holiday photos. (You can get a similar system for less without the photo bundle.)
Sadly there’s not much on offer at discount prices. Because tablets are so hot, manufacturers aren’t ready to take the hit to the already thin margins that a sale would cause.
Amazon has a deal on the 9.7 inch Kindle DX. The DX, which is the same size as the iPad, is selling for $259, a savings of about $120. But the DX doesn’t come close to the quality and versatility of the iPad.
DIGITAL CAMERAS AND CAMCORDERS
Even though smartphones with 8MP cameras and 1080p video are doing their best to make digital cameras (at least point-and-shoot ones) obsolete, 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 BuAlthough $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.
Sales of TVs are all over the place. Here are two models that caught Eisner’s eye. Retrevo’s Web site has a great feature for TV shoppers. It’s a decoder that tells you at a glance what those arcane model numbers really represent.
Samsung 55-inch D6000 LCD TV for $1099 at Sears, $999 Cybersale at Best Buy
This TV offers some attractive features for the price. You get 120Hz, LED backlight and connectivity all for $400 off the normal price.
Sharp 42-inch 1080p LCD TV, $199.99 and 60-inch AQUOS for $799 at Best Buy (Cybersale)
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.
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.
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 with built-in Wi-Fi capability, 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.
Finally, here a few sites that will help you find even more bargains: Dealnews.com Blackfriday.org, Fatwallet.com, and BFads.net.