Here's the tech you shouldn't buy on Black Friday

Wait! Before you fight the crowds to plunk down your hard-earned cash, make sure that a Black Friday deal is really a deal.


It's widely regarded that the best tech deals of the year happen on Black Friday.

It's also woefully inaccurate. Yes, there will be some bargains worth considering -- if not standing in overnight lines for -- but as you've probably discovered, stores large and small have turned a single day into an entire season of sales. (Check out the 41 best Black Friday deals we've found (so far).)

In fact, I'd go so far as to say every day is Black Friday. As The Cheapskate, I see (and share) amazing deals all through the year, and I've developed a healthy skepticism when it comes to the day after Turkey Day. While marketing departments would love for you to think they're giving away the store, not every BF deal is really a deal.

Indeed, check out my colleague Lori Grunin's warning: Beware! That Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal probably isn't a deal.

How can you tell? Start with price-history site Camelcamelcamel, which shows you the highs and lows for just about every product Amazon sells. You should also check the Slickdeals Price Tracker, which provides a basic price history for several dozen stores -- just paste in the URL of the product.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Bottom line: If any given product has been priced lower (or the same) during the past year, it's a safe bet it will be again.

In the meantime, don't fall for the Black Friday hype when it comes to these tech items:

Mobile chargers, phone cases, selfie sticks and other accessory-type items

These things are on sale all...the...time. There's simply no way Black Friday can improve on a 10,000mAh mobile charger for $10 -- unless you're getting paid $10 to take it!

Wireless speakers

Same story: Although you might be able to score a deal on really high-end speakers (the Sonos Play:1, for example, will be $150 at Best Buy, down from $200), which have more room for discounts, you're not likely to find a better price on BF than you will during other sales.

No-brand tablets

Let's be blunt: When it comes to entry-level tablets, there's no better option than Amazon's $50 Fire. It's not perfect, but it's definitely better than any no-brand tablet you're likely to find at the same price -- if not in specs, then in support and ecosystem. In fact, the Fire will sell for a record low $33.33 on Black Friday, too good a deal to pass up if you want a cheap tablet.

High-end PCs

Sure, you'll see some low-end laptops priced to move, but high-end models -- gaming laptops, ultraportables and the like -- don't usually see big Black Friday price cuts. Rather, history suggests that these machines sell for less in the summertime, during back-to-school sales.

Anything super-new

Hot new products -- the Apple Watch 2, the OnePlus 3T -- are exactly that: hot and new, meaning they'll be in high demand. Therefore, stores have little incentive to lower their prices. There may be exceptions here and there, but as a general rule, premium products don't see big cuts on Black Friday. Instead, look for deals on previous-gen models, like the original Apple Watch, which will be on sale at Target for $198.

Sarah Tew


Black Friday does deliver its share of good TV deals, I will say that, and some of those will be 4K models. But despite my colleague Geoffrey Morrison's claim that 4K TVs aren't stupid anymore, which originated in 2015, I maintain my opinion that they're pointless.

There's still precious little content to actually watch, even if you splurge on a 4K-capable streaming box (another product I recommend skipping -- see below). And the technology behind 4K remains in a state of flux. Maybe in 2017 it'll make sense, but right now I'd stick with a 1080p TV -- which will almost certainly cost you less.

High-end streaming boxes

The Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku 4 still sell at a premium while offering few must-have amenities. Indeed, you could buy three Roku Streaming Sticks (already on sale for $35) for roughly the same price as a Roku 4, and still enjoy a top-shelf streaming experience. Meanwhile, Black Friday discounts will be minuscule; no stores have announced any Roku 4 discounts, and even Target's repeat of last year's 25-percent off the new Apple still leaves you with a $112 price tag.

What are your thoughts on the state of Black Friday and whether or not there are any real deals to be had? Hit the comments and let me know if you've spotted any bargains worth getting excited about. And stay tuned for Tuesday when I tell you the things you shouldn't buy until Black Friday.

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