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Three important things you should know about Black Friday

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 1:18PM Thursday November 8, 2012
under Holidays

For a tech guy like me, Black Friday is kind of a big deal. It's the day when stores slash prices on everything from laptops and tablets to TVs and Blu-ray players. Be still, my cheapskate heart.

Of course, the secret to Black Friday success is knowledge. The more you know, the better your chances of scoring the absolute best deals--and avoiding the deals that aren't as good as they may seem.

With that in mind, I've put together three things you should know about Black Friday:

1. You can see the ads in advance
Years ago, you'd have to wait until Thanksgiving Day to see all the store ads for Black Friday, then make your shopping plans accordingly.

Now, thanks to sites like and, you can see get a sneak peek at the circulars for just about every store. (Some are available already; others will be along in the days to come.) For example, Walmart just unveiled its Black Friday ad, so you've got more than enough time to decide if there's anything worth braving long lines and cold weather.

2. There are apps for that
So you're in a store about to buy, say, a tablet, but then you wonder if it'll be cheaper come Black Friday. The answer may be no further than your smartphone.

Apps like Black Friday and TGI Black Friday (both available for Android and iOS) let you view upcoming ads and even price-compare against the best online prices.You can build a shopping list, find nearby stores, and so on.

3. Not every Black Friday deal is the best deal
What's nice about the early availability of Black Friday ads is you have time to do your homework. You can compare the sale prices with historical prices and see if the savings are really significant.

Psst: very often, they're not. For example, Walmart plans to sell the Barnes & Noble Nook Color tablet for $99, but you can already get that same deal from Barnes & Noble via Ebay. Sure, that's for a refurbished Nook, but B&N covers it with a full one-year warranty, same as new Nooks, so it's a wash.

Likewise, beware of products that are really, really cheap, as they might be missing important features. A $179 laptop may sound appealing, for example, until you realize it comes with only 2GB of RAM. Translation: slowpoke. And I wouldn't touch a Blu-ray player that didn't have apps and Wi-Fi, even if it was priced at $37.

So, as always, buyer beware. And when it comes to Black Friday, buyer be prepared.

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World and Wired.