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Black Friday 2013: The thrill is gone -- but the deals are back?

There's no mystery left now that stores have released their ads weeks early. But there are at least a few bargains worth chasing.

Walmart's official Black Friday 2013 is already out. And there are some deals to be had.
Walmart's official Black Friday 2013 is already out. And there are some deals to be had.

Because I'm The Cheapskate, this is the time of year when people nudge me and say, "Bet you're getting pretty excited about Black Friday, huh?"

Well, of course! The day after Thanksgiving! The day when stores, both brick-and-mortar and click-and-order, serve up the very best deals of the year, slashing prices so low you'll be willing to freeze your butt off in an overnight line like you were waiting for Kanye tickets.

Yep, pretty excited. Except, nope, not excited. Black Friday is no longer the mysterious, exciting, deal-chasing fun-fest it once was. It's been homogenized, commoditized, overanalyzed.

In fact, this year, there really is no mystery left: Nearly every major retailer -- Best Buy, OfficeMax, Staples, Target, Walmart, and more -- has publicly released its Black Friday ad. Never mind that the actual day is still over two weeks away -- the stores have stopped playing the "leaked ad" game, meaning you no longer need an aggregator like or to sneak a peek at what's coming. Now you just go to, say, Walmart's Web site and click "Plan your Black Friday in-store shopping trip!" (Ironically, that store's Black Friday now begins on Thursday at 6 p.m. Last year it was 8 p.m. Next year: Wednesday midafternoon.)

As I've said in the past, it's hard for me to enthuse about Black Friday when I see (and share) amazing deals all year long. Just yesterday I featured a Braven 570 portable Bluetooth speaker for $30. It was refurbished, yes, but still an incredible buy; new ones go for $100. And a couple days before that, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 was on sale for $299, down from $649 earlier this year. Beat that, Black Friday!

Black Friday strikes back?

I was all set to keep on decrying the ruination of Black Friday, but the reality is I'm seeing some fairly tempting deals from various sources. In particular, TV and tablet shoppers might just find themselves lured out of the house on November 29. Here's a look at some of the standouts:

The AOC e2752she 27-inch desktop monitor will be on sale for $179.99.
The AOC e2752she 27-inch desktop monitor will be on sale for $179.99. AOC
  • Best Buy will offer the LG 55LN5100 55-inch LED 120Hz HDTV for $499.99 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet (previous-generation) for $99.99.
  • Walmart will sell the Vizio E601i-A3 60-inch HDTV with apps and Wi-Fi for $688, down from the current price of $998. (And here's what I don't get about the super-early ad reveals: Who in their right mind is going to buy this TV now if they can get it for $310 less in a couple weeks?) Also at Walmart: the first-gen iPad Mini (16GB) for $299 -- same as the current list price, but with a $100 Walmart gift card.
  • Similarly, Target will have the iPad Air (16GB) for $479 -- $20 off list -- with a $100 Target gift card. Also at Target: the 7-inch Nook HD (8GB) for $79, which is insane.
  • OfficeMax plans to offer the HP Pavilion TouchSmart 14-n014nr laptop for $319.99, down from $449.99. It's a budget laptop, yes, but the lowest price I've seen for a model with a 14-inch touch screen.
  • I've also heard from an AOC rep that starting Black Friday, various retailers will sell the AOC e2752she 27-inch desktop monitor for $179.99, which is $120 off the MSRP. Specs include a 2ms response time, two HDMI ports, and a headphone jack.
  • An H. H. Gregg rep notified me that the first-gen iPad Mini (16GB) will be $249.99, and that with the purchase of any 4G LTE smartphone, including iPhones, Black Friday shoppers will receive a $100 gift card. And a little extra incentive to actually set foot in a store: "One Black Friday shopper in every H. H. Gregg store nationwide will win his or her entire Black Friday purchase free."

So, yeah, some good stuff out there. Worth fighting lines and crowds and cold weather? That's up to you to decide. Either way, I'm eager to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Bonus deal: I couldn't let the day go by without at least one bona fide deal! Could your PC use a tune-up? Starting at 9 a.m. PT today, Nov. 13, and through tomorrow at 9 a.m. PT, you can get a free six-month service activation key for Iolo System Mechanic, a $24.95 value. But note the fine print: "Upon receipt of their keys, participants will have another 24 hours; until Friday, November 15, 9 a.m. PT to download, install and activate service before the end of the promotion."

Update: Something about this link isn't working correctly for some folks, but you can get to the same deal by way of SharewareOnSale. Sorry for the confusion!

Bonus deal No. 2: OK, one more. As you may recall, the aforementioned Yoga 11 tablet came with Windows RT. If you're looking for something more robust, try this: Walmart has the brand-spankin'-new Asus Transformer Book T100 10.1-inch tablet for $379 shipped (plus sales tax). This hybrid runs full-blown Windows 8 and comes with a keyboard dock, 64GB of storage (though only about half of it available, alas), and the new Intel Atom Z3740 processor. Read CNET's hands-on if you want to learn more.

Deals found on The Cheapskate are subject to availability, expiration, and other terms determined by sellers.

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