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Home » Buying home theater

How to Be Sure your Black Friday Deal is REALLY a Good Deal

Submitted by on November 19, 2009 – 10:36 pmNo Comment

cool-featureSo you’ve looked through the ads and you are excited about the price on a new gadget, toy, computer, TV….But how good is the price really?  Is it worth braving the wee hours and crowds to buy it on black friday? Any good treasure hunter knows the value of their treasure.

Now that you have found  items that you may want to buy  in the black friday ads, you need to do a little research online. Make sure that you know what features are on the item you are buying and what features are available at a higher price. You want to know if what you are getting is what you  wanted or if you are just getting a cheap knockoff. Cheap knockoffs can be okay too, as long as you are clear that is what you are getting.

When going through Black Friday ads you will come across some unbelievable deals.  Should you believe them?  If  you are choosing an item like your primary TV, you’ll want to be sure it has the quality and features that you would want if you were paying full price. In the long run, is it really a good deal when you see a feature you like on someone else’s TV? Will you wish your new GPS had traffic updates when you are stuck in traffic, and believe it would have been worth the $50 to have bought the GPS with that feature that would get you around your current highway dilemma? Sometimes, it’s such a great deal, you are willing to forego the extra features. Still, know what features you are giving up so you know if it is worth it to you to buy cheaply (or if you want to wait until you can afford what you really want).  Don’t get me wrong, many of the Black Friday deals will have the features you want.  Just be sure you know what you are getting and if it is all that you want.

Check that the model in the ad has all the features you want:

bestbuycompareTo know whether the black friday price is really a good deal (for you), you need to know what features are available at different price points. Once you know the features that are available for that type of gadget, you can decide if you think those features are worth paying a higher price. What seems like a good deal in the ad may not be such a good deal if it doesn’t perform or do the things you want.  So, don’t just think “Oh wow, a Panasonic Plasma for under $700!”  This model may not have any of the qualities of the $1500 model, so the TV in the ad may not be worth much more than $700 anyway.  This is why it was important to write down the model number when you look at the Black Friday ads.

There are a number of places online to check out what features are available on a type of device. Here’s what I do. I will often go to an online retailer like Best Buy (or any electronics site with the option to compare models–they have a compare option under each item). I go to the product that I am looking for–Blu-ray Disc players, TVs, GPS, etc.–then I will click the compare box on 3 models.  I choose a model that is the top of the line, the model I am considering, and the lowest price model.  (With TVs, be sure to compare Plasma with Plasma and LCD with LCD…you can usually pick the type of TV in the subcategories on the TV page.) After choosing the 3 models, I click on the “compare” button at the top or bottom of the list of products.

When the comparison page comes up, look down the list of features for each model and compare. Does the top of the line have a lot more features than the model you are thinking of buying?  Is the model in the ad, the least expensive and most basic model in the line? Even if it is the lowest priced model, does it have the features you want?  There can be odd names for features of a certain brand. You may be able to go to the page for that particular model to learn about that feature (or even go to the manufacturer’s site).  The comparison should give you an idea of what you will be getting on your model, and what might be missing.

If all the technical terms look like a foreign language,  just look for things like:

  • better resolution (1080p) in TVs,
  • higher contrast in TVs
  • network connectivity in TVs, home theater sound systems, Blu-ray players, etc. (Check for a listing of online partners like Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, Flickr, YouTube, Yahoo, etc. so you can stream movies, music, photos and other content directly to your TV),
  • lots of HDMI connections on TVs and home theater systems,
  • traffic updates and speakable commands on GPS,
  • lots of memory on portable players, and
  • optical zooms of over 3X on digital cameras (or lenses with wide angles and zoom  28 to 200 is great).

For more considerations on TV features, check out the article on TV features and buying TVs on my website, Simple Home Theater Help.

Check that the price of that model is the best price available:

Now that you know the specifications of the device, you’ll want to check if the price is a good deal. Go to comparative shopping sites like NexTag , Price Grabber , and BizRate. Once you arrive at these sites, you can type the model number into a search box and get a listing of the range of online prices available for that model.  These sites might also have reviews of the product from other people who have bought the item so you can see if the model has been performing well.  (If you find a good deal when in the store, and you have an iPhone, you can use the “Red Laser” app.  Here you scan the bar code and it will show the range of prices for that item.)

Know how much you will be paying in the store…

Note that many ads will list the retail price along with the Black Friday price.  It may even list the item’s common sale price.  Often, it will list how much you will save.  If you do nothing else, check out the savings prices–CHECK THE IN-STORE PRICE and see if there are any MAIL-IN rebates–otherwise you may be shocked to find that you are paying a lot of money out of pocket at the store, and then you’ll have to wait weeks for your rebate. Fewer stores are requiring mail-in rebates. Those who do, are betting that you won’t take the time to actually mail the rebate in!  Stores like Staples have online rebate forms.  Be sure to fill out the rebates as soon as you get home and follow all rebate directions.  For actual mail-in rebates, you might have to cut a hole in the box that you are giving to your loved one…but if you want your savings, it may be a necessary evil.

In summary–

  1. Check your model against other models to be sure you have the features you want.
  2. Check online shopping sites to be sure the black friday price is the best price.
  3. Be sure you know the retail price, the “in-store price” and the price after any “mail-in rebates.”

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