We’ve seen a huge influx of users looking for info about all of the Black Friday notebook deals and wanted to answer some common questions. Here’s a list of things to consider before rushing into a big-box retailer and snatching the lowest-priced notebook you can find.
1)The Lines Will Suck
You’re not the only one that thinks $229 for a notebook is a great deal. You’ll have plenty of company vying for all those ‘limited quantities’ notebooks, and a lot of people don’t exactly have that holiday spirit at 5am. Bring friends to help defend your place in line and be prepared for some extreme rudeness, pushing and shoving. If you really want the best deals plan on skipping Thanksgiving dinner and camping out overnight.
2) Do Your Research Early
If you’re on Notebooks.com, chances are you’re already researching what kind of notebook you want. Black Friday is no time to decide which notebook you want. The stores will be mad houses and you’ll be lucky if an employee will be able to talk to you for more than a few seconds. Go to the store prior to Thanksgiving and test out the notebook you want. In many cases the exact model won’t be on the floor until Black Friday, but there are usually very similar models you can play with.
3) $400 off, doesn’t always mean $400 off
Yes, ‘$400 off’, ‘Save $300’ and ‘$200 discount’ all sound good, but they don’t always mean what they should. Retailers base Black Friday savings on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), not the notebook’s most recent price. For example- CompUSA is advertising a $400 discount on the HP Pavilion HDX on Black Friday, but the retailer has been selling it at a $300 discount for some time.
4) Model Number Confusion
Retail notebooks have long and confusing model numbers, making it difficult to comparison shop. This makes it all but impossible to get a retailer to price match a Black Friday deal, even if it’s not of limited quantities. This is how retailers can all claim to have ‘exclusive’ models.
Here’s some basic decoding info for each of the major models being sold so you can compare Black Friday notebooks. Try going to the manufacturer’s web site and configuring a notebook with the same specs as the Black Friday notebook you’re considering to see how good the deal is and if it’s worth waiting in line. The specs will vary depending on the exact model number, but understanding the numbering scheme makes it easier to comparison shop. Some manufacturers are offering aggressive discounts- HP is offering $400 off several notebook models.
5) Refurbished and Clearance Notebooks
If you hate lines consider buying a notebook directly from the manufacturer of your choice. They usually offer good value for your money, but you won’t have the best selection. Apple, for example, is currently discounting MacBook Pros by $300 on the Apple Clearance store. Dell has some great values at the Dell Outlet as well.
6) Upgrade that RAM
Many of the entry-level Black Friday notebooks are equipped with 1GB of memory, but the deal everyone is talking about the most is the A135-s7403 at Best Buy for $229. One GB of RAM is the absolute minimum you should have with a Vista equipped notebook. Two gigs is highly recommended for multi -taskers. Upgrading your notebook’s memory is the easiest and cheapest thing you can do to get a performance bump out of your cheap notebook. Get a notebook with at least 2GB of memory if you can afford it, or plan on buying a memory upgrade kit later. Two gigs of memory will cost about $50 at most online discount stores like NewEgg and TigerDirect.
7) DON’T OPEN THE BOX
It can be very tempting to tear open the box as soon as you bring any new gadget home. I’d suggest taking a deep breath and backing away from the box before opening it, but new deals will be announced for Cyber Monday and throughout he holiday season. By not opening it until you’re absolutely sure you’re going to keep it you can avoid restocking fees. Best Buy and many other retailers charge a 15% restocking fee for open merchandise. If you’re giving a Black Friday notebook as a gift FORCE your kid (or whoever you’re giving it to) to carefully read the specs on the side of the box and to go online and make sure it’s what they wanted before opening it.
9) Don’t Forget the Rebates
A lot of Black Friday notebooks require you to send in a rebate form to get the advertised price. Don’t forget to bring enough cash/credit limit to pay the full in-store price. Ask for a clarification on when the rebate expires and how soon you need to mail it in. It’s way too easy to miss the mailing deadline, which means more profit for the retailers and less savings for you.
10) Your Black Friday Notebook may be Obsolete
Many retailers sell current models, but some Black Friday notebooks are nearing the end of their product lifecycle. All of the manufacturers will be announcing new notebook models the first week of 2008 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2008). Don’t be surprised and angry when an update to your Black Friday laptop is announced a few days after Christmas.
11) There Will Always Be Another Deal
Black Friday always brings out the cheapest deals of the year, but usually only on the lowest-end mainstream consumer notebooks. While a few thousand lucky people will get a decent computer for $400 or less, most shoppers will be left out in the cold. There are deals year-round, with manufacturers regularly running $400-off, 20%-off, 30%-off and other promos, especially around national holidays, after the holidays,New years, back to school season, graduation season, tax season, Valentine’s Day and whenever the manufacturers are lagging behind sales targets. Some of the best deals crop up as limited time offers just before the end of the month or financial quarter.
12) Check the Return Policy Closely
Some retailers offer more liberal return policies during the holiday season, but they usually have the most restrictive terms on laptops. If you’re buying a computer on Black Friday (Nov. 23) and give it as a Christmas gift, your child/significant other/parent may not be able to exchange it if there’s something about it that doesn’t suit their needs.
13) Skip the Extended Warranty
Extended warranties are pretty much pure profit for retailers. Some people just feel more comfortable ‘knowing’ their laptops are protected, but extended warranties are usually a rip off. All of the Black Friday notebooks come with at least a one-year warranty. If you want an extra year of protection use a credit card that doubles your warranty (American Express does this and that’s why use AMEX to buy my computers, but other premium credit cards do this as well) or buy your notebook from a retailer that extends your warranty for free- Costco is the only one that I know of.