Black Friday deals are often considered great but, in the world of technology, experts agree that they aren’t all that fantastic. In fact, the deals are often pathetic because retailers know that, after waiting in line, people will buy something ... even if it's not the greatest deal in the world.
However, great deals are always available in the world of technology if you know where to look. So, to help you avoid the tech trap that is Black Friday, here are five simple pieces of advice.
1. The Best Tech Deals are Online
By getting in line for something, you are restricting yourself to a physical store, with all the extra expenses of physical storage built into your product. The real gems of Black Friday, and the rest of the year, are actually online. Be it Newegg or Amazon (particularly their Gold Box and Lightning Deals), these are the places to go for great deals throughout the year. Through these two sites, I have seen $250 laptops, $150 HD TVs, and $99 tablets, all without waiting in line. Also, familiarize yourself with CNET’s Marketplace/Cheapskate Blog, an information outlet for fantastic daily hardware and software deals, courtesy of awesome tech guy Rick Broida.
2. Cyber Monday is Better Than Black Friday
An addition to the first category, you should be aware of Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday. While it has the same flimsy premise as Black Friday that I have already mentioned, it at least beats standing in line. So if you aren’t willing to wait for the real zingers that pop up year-round, at least skip Friday and delay your purchases until Cyber Monday; it’s at least less foot pain and threat of getting stabbed.
3. Some TV Features and Accessories Are Just a Waste
People like all their networking apps (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and streaming services (Netflix, Hulu Plus) on their television and often end up paying extra for them. However, good Blu-ray players and streaming boxes offer things streaming services for free while some cable providers include networking apps in their packages without charge. Since you’re likely to buy these things anyway, because a TV is incomplete without them, there’s no need to pay extra for things that you can get again for free.
Another consideration here is the HDMI cable, which you need for HD devices. People pay dozens, if not hundreds, on an HDMI cable but, technologically speaking, they really are all the same so always buy the cheaper ones. Also, a lot of people don't know that if you attach one end to of the cable to your computer and the other to your HDTV, you have crisp replication of your computer screen so if some website doesn't offer free television streaming (like Hulu Plus, which has charges), you can totally watch things on the big screen for free.
4. You Don’t Need to Buy Expensive Software
When you are in a store or have just brought home a new computer, you want to purchase or download things for it. However, you don’t need to pay a lot for products like antivirus or apps. Avast offers free anti-virus software and CNET has dozens of professional-quality free apps. And while donations to the developers are still kind, they certainly cost less than retail. Also, familiarize yourself with Giveaway of the Day, a software distributor that gives out legally licensed free apps every day.
5. You Don’t Need to Buy Expensive Games
PC downloads are the cheapest form to buy a game because publishers prefer this method (physical games sales have more middlemen and the risk of fruitless re-sales). Therefore, to make this the most enticing option, publishers and sellers offer great deals. The ideal download retailer is Steam, which has the best deals on the internet for game downloads. The best deals. Other great options include Amazon’s download system and Electronics Arts’ Origin, another fantastic digital distributor.
So, there you have it: five common tech traps people don’t see coming and end up wasting their money on; so don’t be one of them and happy shopping.