Black Friday: Tech items to skip

November 27, 2013

Bargain hunters are raring to go, with Black Friday coming up fast — faster, in fact, than in the past, given that many stores are opening their doors for part of Thanksgiving Day this year.

Black Friday is a good day to find deals on items from televisions to laptops, but just because this annual shopping spree is expected to be high on bargains doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth snapping up everything in the store.

Off-brand tablets: For all that is tempting about picking up an under-$80 tablet on Black Friday, it’s worth remembering that not all tablets are created equal.

The truth is, there’s a reason they’re so darn cheap. They’re low-quality products: Their plastic cases will crack or creak; their screens will lose sensitivity over time; and they won’t be able to run many apps at once, among other issues. If you find a genuinely good deal on a tablet from a top brand, then go ahead and grab it — Best Buy has last year’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, 16 GB tablet for $299, for example. But if you haven’t heard of the brand, chances are it’s not worth the money.

Some televisions: But, you just said televisions are a good buy on Black Friday! That’s true, but it comes with certain caveats. There are some really strong deals, but they tend to be for second-tier electronics brands. The TVs are still of fairly good quality, but if you’re at all picky about what you want — and want anything other than the few TV sets that are on deep discount that day — then it may be better to wait for a drop in the wider market.

According to Consumer Reports, TV prices will dip more across the board as we get closer to Christmas, so you’ll still be able to get a set under the tree if you want. And if you can really wait, televisions also tend to go on sale in January, as stores try to lure Super Bowl viewers into getting a big screen for the big game.

Digital cameras: There are also plenty of deals to tempt you into buying a new camera to take your holiday pictures. But don’t get hooked if upgrading your shutterbug options in time for Christmas isn’t a top priority.

As DealNews, a site that focuses on discount shopping, noted, digital camera prices really take a dive after the CES consumer electronics show in January, when companies show off their next-generation products and the current stock of cutting-edge gadgets become yesterday’s news.

New name-brand products: There are some items that just aren’t going to have deep discounts, particularly those released specifically to rake in retail profits during the holiday season. Some things are going to sell at or pretty near the manufacturer’s suggested retail price no matter what.

Chief among these products are the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which can hardly be expected to drop much in price after just a week or two on the market. Others include Apple’s newest version of the iPad mini — the one with a retina display — and other new tablets released within the past two or three months.

But there is one way you can still pick up some new tech and feel like you’re getting a deal: Look for bundles. Target’s doorbuster $20 discount on the 16 GB iPad, for example, isn’t a great price cut on its own, but it comes with a $100 Target gift card. That’s not too shabby.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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