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Shopping, Redefined Follow Me on Pinterest
Though the signs were pointing in that direction, what we're watching is still rather surprising. Some might argue that we're saying goodbye to a tradition, and that the obvious new course of retail shopping, put on display like a neon sign on the Vegas strip, will leave us devoid of an experience.

While chatting with a friend on Saturday, that it "just wasn't the same." Each year, he and his family headed out early to see the stores and displays, taking advantage of a fantastic low price here, a two for one toy sale there, then heading to a crowded chain restaurant for lunch, only to venture out again in the afternoon for those sales that began a bit later on in the afternoon or evening.

Those stores opened on Friday, of course, there was little that was different about that. Thanksgiving openings, early morning openings that could have just as easily been described as "middle of the night" openings...the retailers certainly put in the hours at the brick and mortar retail establishments. What wasn't the same, my friend remarked, was the crowds.

I suppose some might find it odd that anyone living in this modern world could possibly long for the presence of more people anywhere, much less while shopping. But that was the case with this pal of mine. He missed the crowds.

Yes, millions of folks ventured out on Black Friday, 2015. Yes, there were plenty of shoppers out and about. And of course, there were sales, plenty of them. But the crowds, they weren't as large. And you could see the difference from past years.

If our home region of Hampton Roads, Virginia is any indication, it certainly looks like a sea change. If not the end of physical retail stores, than it certainly signaled that change was necessary in the way they do business.

It wasn't long ago that Google advised webmasters everywhere to ensure that their sites were optimized for use with mobile devices. A timetable was given for making the necessary changes to ensure that it was easy for folks to use our pages on their iPhones, Galaxy tabs and other devices without a hitch. The images needed to be properly parsed and resized, and anyone wishing to be properly indexed by the world's biggest, baddest search engine were to make it as easy as possible for folks to surf, shop and view sites "on the go." If that wasn't a sign of things to come (or perhaps already here) then...

Payment Methods are now wide-ranging and highly technical. Apple, Samsung, and of course "old stand-by" Pay Pal allow you to pay by using a smartphone or table. At one point many thought that a cashless society was a pipe dream, but we're inching in that direction steadily, aren't we.

Though we believe that retail stores still solve a problem (you still can't hold an item at a website in your hand, can you?) and fill a need, this shift from in-store to online is a big one. And we believe it's here to stay. Until, of course, the entire thing goes virtual. But that's an article for another day.

The State of American Retail in 2020 Follow Me on Pinterest
Frankly, the numbers are hard to look at. The retail sector has suffered more than most this year, and for fairly obvious reasons. Too many Americans have either lost their jobs or are unsure whether their previous job will be there when this is over. Far too many businesses which employed those folks are in deep trouble, with some having already closed their doors forever. Yes, things are quite bad at the moment.

The reality for millions of retail sector employees is that this state of flux isn't over. Some stores which are open will close again as cases spike, causing more disruption for companies and again, the employees. Many shifted to online only sales early on in the pandemic, sacrificing employees who worked in brick and mortar locations. Bus some had no such option.

Businesses that required a physical location for sales were incredibly hard hit. Movie theaters, gyms, dry cleaners, bowling alleys, and so many more all relied on customers coming in and using their facilities and services. Restaurant which did a very small portion of their business via pick up and delivery were forced to find a way increase revenue that way.

Some flagship businesses are gone, while others are holding on by a thread. Already struggling Macy's has slashed corporate and in store jobs, but is aggressively working it's online side. Brooks Brothers has filed for bankruptcy as it searches for a buyer. Of course, as these big names go under, it's likely that the closing of American malls, which rely on them to draw customers, will sooner or later follow suit.

But as a small business, watching the smaller endeavors struggle is what is hardest to watch. So many "mom and pop" stores have shuttered recently that the topography of our neighborhoods is changing rapidly. Employees are struggling here as well, as American small businesses employ nearly 60,000,000 people. The more they suffer, the worse things are for their families and communities. With little cash on hand in many cases, many were unable to weather even a brief period of closure, much less a couple of months or more.

But there is hope! The American entrepreneurial spirit is strong. During periods of "re-opening" we've seen the strength of many leaders, of small businesses as well as the biggest of the big retailers. We think that retail will come back strong, with some businesses adapting, new sellers appearing, and the entire specter thriving once again. What that will look like remains to be seen, and when it happens is a question for when these the crazy times have passed.



Ranking the Retailers - Our Black Friday Top 10! Follow Me on Pinterest
*This article refers to a past sale and is for reference purposes only.*

It was a hopping mad Black Friday that lasted through November and a couple of weeks into December. Since we have twelve years of experience in the business, and because it's fun (honesty is the best policy isn't it?) we thought we would tell you which retailers, in our opinion really did the holiday shopping season right, offering great Black Friday deals with plenty of time for you to get one. Of course, we have a stake in this because we're affiliated with hundreds of retailers, large and small. But we're also shoppers, and most everyone on our staff spent most of their holiday budget online this year.

Here are our top 10 sellers, in alphabetical order, who either met or exceeded our expectations this year.

Amazon - We expected big things and got them. They offered deals in many, many ways beginning early in November. As many as ten Daily Deals in their Gold Box, hundreds of Lightning Deals, and superb offers in every department we could think of started out with low price points, and they consistently dropped their prices to match or beat the best offers as they appeared at other sellers. In short, you could have done worse than do all of your holiday shopping there this year. They met their own lofty standards, then exceeded them by continuing the hot deals well into the third week of December.

BuyDig - Both at their own site and at eBay, this Edison, New Jersey based retailer featured some of the best electronics deals of the year. But where they truly excelled was in offering a number of shockingly hot HDTV deals. If you were looking for an LG or Samsung model, there was no better place to find it than here for much of the holiday shopping season.  

Dell Home and Dell Small Business - Both of Dell's sites offered some pretty spectacular deals. These included many of their own Inspiron, XPS, and Alienware laptop and desktop PCs, of course, but also some great deals on Bose headphones, fitness trackers and HDTVs. The downside was that their best offers lasted only for Black Friday weekend including Cyber Monday, then once more on Green Monday. In between, the prices were less enticing.

eBay - With their army of sellers from big (think Best Buy) to small (think some guy in his basement) no one has access to a larger variety than this gigantic clearinghouse. They used that power to offer a number of shockingly low HDTV prices, plus hot deals on everything from Christmas decorations to new and used tablets. They offered so many deals at their site that there were times when we had to choose which offers to post due to time constraints. That's saying something.

Kohl's - They only do it once per year, but they certainly go all out when that time comes. Not only did they offer their usual stack-able coupon codes that allowed you to achieve multiple discounts (10% off cookware plus $15 off $50, for example), but also offered Kohl's Cash for free with $50+ purchases that you could spend at their site or stores later on. Two things that kept them from being higher on our list were that both the coupons and cash promotions lasted for a relatively short period of time in November.

Lego - If you didn't know they had a site, you may have missed some exceptional deals this Black Friday Season. From their architecture collection that features the Eiffel Tower, the White House, and other very cool monuments, to everything Lego Star Wars you could imagine, their prices were at or low the best we'd ever seen for more than a month.

Microsoft Store - Fantastic prices on the Surface Pro 3 and 4, dozens of excellent laptop deals, and especially Xbox One bundles at best of the web prices were ubiquitous there for more than 45 days. They started strong and never let up.

Sears - The Craftsman tools were obvious. They featured many of these at lowest of the year prices (we pay close attention to those around here.) But the surprise came in the form of big discounts on shoes, apparel and even a few excellent HDTV deals. The small "ding" on them is that their shipping threshold remained at $49 throughout the season.

Tanga - One of our favorite "small" retailers continued to offer their usual excellent prices on footwear, athletic clothing and other items. But during the big rush they also displayed some very nice deals on Beats Headphones, Bluetooth speakers and various other popular small electronics.

Walmart - In our opinion, no other store had more great deals, period. As they typically do, this giant featured fantastic deals on toys, furniture, fitness equipment, cookware, vacuums, and camping equipment. But this year they kicked things up considerably by finally entering the fray in the enormously competitive category of electronics. Roku players, HDTVs (especially Vizio and budget brand models like Sceptre) were part of their often exceptional daily offers. To make things even more inviting for shoppers, they also waived their usual $50 threshold to receive free shipping for most of the holiday season.
A Tale of Two HDTV Buyers Follow Me on Pinterest
If there's one thing that I find incredibly off-putting, it's when folks (often sales clerks) try to sell you a product that isn't quite right for you, usually with the intention of getting you to spend more money. Years ago, my parents, both in their late 60s at the time, were looking for a TV for their living room. They browsed at the local big box stores (there were still three retailers in this category at the time) and received some advice that made me cringe.

Mom and Dad have a living room in which the optimal position for the TV would be in the "short" part of the room. Using the room lengthwise in the very rectangular space would have meant sitting a great distance from the TV, which would have required a very large set be placed there for even a decent viewing experience. As they had already decided long ago that the couch would be on the wall to the right, with the television about 10 feet away on the left side of the room, they wanted a TV no bigger than 43 inches.

Their window shopping had left them more confused than informed, with new terminology like Smart TV, pixels, and resolution now serving only to make themselves doubt any choice they might have made. Though both of my parents are intelligent people, they really had no interest in learning new terms. They simply want a TV with a nice picture. And because they had been frustrated by their "HDTV field trip," they asked me if I could find them a TV that would fit in the chosen spot and "look good."

And so we looked around, finally deciding on a 42" from Panasonic. The main factors in our decision were very simple: Get the best picture in the size range we were looking for; Buy from a trusted brand. The reviews were excellent for this particular model (we won't mention it because it's no longer available for purchase) and I had seen it at the now mostly defunct local Circuit City.

Basically, we had eliminated the specs we thought would be insignificant for mom and dad. Had they listened to the salespeople, who are trained to say things that make you buy an HDTV, as opposed to actually telling you how it will fit your needs, they would likely have spend hundreds more than the $250 or so we found this excellent set for.

The purchaser in this case wanted a great picture, something we all should aim for when shopping for ANY HDTV. But what they didn't need was considerably more important. They didn't need Smart TV, mainly because they didn't spend enough time watching television to justify it, and had no interested in learning anything about how to use it beyond turning it on and heading to their favorite channel.

The Panasonic we found them was a 720p model. Why not 1080p? Because this particular HDTV shined like no other when we saw it on display. Set near some more expensive models with the higher resolution, the Panasonic was more vivid (we played with the settings on number of the) and offered a very high amount of detail. The only thing near the price we paid were more budget conscious sets from new brands which had yet to build enough of reputation for us to know much about.
In the end, the HDTV we chose for mom and dad was a winner. It still sits in their living room, hooked up via HDMI and looking great whether we watch Wheel of Fortune or the Jets game. The true winning "review" is that neither has ever complained about it, and has received nothing but high praise from the more vocal, rest of the family.

In our opinion, the first rule of buying an HDTV is rule out anything you don't want or need. If you pay for features you won't actually take advantage of, you've paid too much.
Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday Deals! Follow Me on Pinterest
*This article is from quite some time ago and posted for reference purposes only.*

When I was interviewed by John Gomez of Long Island News Radio back in November, he commented that he saw "lots of deals from Amazon" on our sister site. As I told him at the time, "we go where the deals are." The truth is that no one, no single retailer, whether in it's brick and mortar location or online, has more great deals than Amazon. As affiliate partners with a couple of thousand of the best web retailers on the planet, we can tell you without reservation that the truth is that Amazon is (still) the very best place to shop, more often than not.

And so, when they inform us of a sale coming up, we expect great things. They don't often go over the top with hype, simply offering a low price and letting us consumers (I've placed hundreds of orders with Amazon myself over the years) decide whether ourselves whether we're getting a deal or not. We're therefore inclined to believe that the upcoming Amazon Prime Day Sale on July 15th should be something that is worth our attention.

Touting a sale that will offer "more deals than Black Friday" means more to us than most, we think. We've watched them positively explode with hot offers on that day year after year, and so a day that offers anything "more" than that one strikes us very enticing.

What categories will feature great prices? We're guessing that if it's anything like our favorite day of the entire year, the deals will encompass many of them, and they've already stated that we'll find them in video games, toys, electronics, apparel, and more.

Since it's a "Prime event" you must be a member to take advantage of the Black Friday style deals. But that doesn't mean you should rush to the site right now and spend $99 to get it (although I have renewed mine for five years now and consider it to be one of the best bargains available.) Just sign up for a free trial membership (typically 30 days) that will include the day of the sale. That will make you eligible to purchase any item at the exclusive Prime Member price for the duration of the trial period.

We'll be watching this sale closely, of course, and you'll see the best deals from the sale posted right here at BFC. Because as I reminded Mr. Gomez, we don't look for deals at specific retailers, but post them where we find them. And we're expecting to find many of them in the Amazon Prime Day Sale.
Shopping Tips for Black Friday 2015! Follow Me on Pinterest
*This article from a few years ago is for reference only.*

Because it's never too early to prepare for the big game, and because our "Super Bowl" is on the way, and because I have dozens more football analogies that I've been waiting for months to use, here's our first Black Friday preview of the year. As a public service announcement, we're bringing your our top 5 shopping tips for coming out of Black Friday with all the gifts you want, while having spent less money than you thought possible, and with nary a bruise to your physique or your ego!

Get in the huddle, call your play, audible to your slot receiver and put your tight end in motion. The big game is coming! (Did I miss any?)

1.) Go early, go often!

- Last year, all of the big retailers jumped into the Black Friday pool starting on the first of November. It's very likely that here will be hot deals starting on that day this year as well, and we'll see most of them matched or even bettered multiple times between then and some time late in December. You'll have plenty of chances to get a great price on the item you're looking for. Check back here often, as we update our deals frequently.

2.) Don't play favorites!

- If you set your mind on getting the best deal from one of the "big name" retailers, you could miss out on an even better price. As always, some of the very best Black Friday deals will likely come from sellers you know less about. Fortunately, finding reviews on a seller isn't difficult. Google is your friend.

3.) Don't stress it!

- We can't tell you how many people have told us that they hate Black Friday (though judging by the sales numbers from the Holiday period, those folks are clearly in the minority). The first thing they tend to mention is the "stress" of it all. Frankly, I haven't shopped at the mall in years, which means I haven't stood in line, nor been bumped into,nor had to deal with a sales clerk who's angry because he or she had to work during the holidays. I'm not saying that those things are the norm, but they do happen. I shop online. And I haven't been stressed by the act of shopping in years.

4.) Use us!

- Snagging a great deal can be fun. No one knows that better than us and it's the number one reason we do this. We actually like finding great deals. Whatever you're looking for this Black Friday, we're betting we can find a deal on it. Whether it's the hottest toy or the most sought after video game of the season, send an e-mail to crazytowndeals@gmail.com and tell us what you're looking for. We'll do our best to find a deal on it.

5.) Have fun with it!

- It's supposed to be a joyous time of year, after all. Relax, take a deep breath, and watch the great deals as they make their way around the web!
Black Friday 2015! Follow Me on Pinterest
*This article from 2015 is for informational purposes only.*

This isn't a mutual fund folks. In the case of Black Friday 2015, we believe that past performance will absolutely give us an indication of what we'll see when November rolls around. Frankly, the trends, sales, top sellers, all of the things that in other businesses might change dramatically from one year to the next, are very likely to remain the same when it comes to the upcoming holiday shopping season and beyond.

It's unique in a sense. Though the top retailers vying for your dollars are likely to be the same as last year, Black Friday 2015 will be the end of some other sellers. Those businesses know that they will generate a large percentage of their annual revenue in the 45 days or so of madness that begins on the first of November. Those businesses on the precipice of extinction will go all out to win you over with low prices with the same level of fervor you'll see from Amazon and Best Buy, just to name a couple. If they can't get you to spend at their store or site at the end of the year, some of those businesses will be forced to fold up shop.

Therein lies the "consistency" of the pattern we see every year. Black Friday offers more than the opportunity for retailers to cement their place among the giants as they do their best to satisfy shareholders. Some of the very best deals on and adjacent to Black Friday 2015 will come from smaller, lesser known sites trying to simply stay afloat by producing big numbers at a time when they must do so.

Every year around here we engage in some amusing speculation. We jot down on paper what each of us thinks will be the biggest selling product of the year, and which seller will be the "biggest surprise" of the holiday shopping season. Every year at least one member of our staff or another nails at least one of the answer squarely on the head. No, none of us is related to Nostradamus. It's just that we've seen all of this before.

So what will the deals be on? What products will offer shockingly big discounts? Who will be the surprise retailer of Black Friday 2015? Here are just a few of our thoughts that some of our staff may or may not use as evidence to support their choices...

(For the record, these are not rankings. We put them in alphabetical order to avoid any confusion regarding what we think their chances are...)

Top 2015 Black Friday Sellers?

Amazon - Past winner in 2005-2014. Just kidding, but it seems like they've done extremely well practically every year. They handle Black Friday "like a boss" not only with shockingly excellent prices, but in matching hot deals shortly after they pop up elsewhere.

Best Buy - We kid them about the fact that some of their best offers last for what seems like a nanosecond, but last year some of the best of the season on HDTVs, Gaming consoles and more came from them. Many times, we saw the folks just above them here duplicate or better that price within minutes. If they take notice, your deal is probably a good one.

BuyDig - We've known of them (and shopped with them) for years, but the past year or so has seen this emerging seller offer five of the top ten TV deals (in our opinion) on the web. Yes, 50% of the 10 best HDTV deals of the year have come from these folks. Remarkable.

Ebay - If one seller at eBay doesn't drop the price, another two will. That's the philosophy there. With so many big and small names using it as a sales portal, we see Black Friday level price drops beginning early in November and lasting until very late in December. The beauty of having so many different companies sell from one site is that the variety of items available is enormous.

NewEgg - If you're upgrading or building a computer, and looking to save money while you do it, they're one of the best in the business. Surprisingly though, we wonder each year when they'll really "take off" and hit Black Friday big. At least compared to the others in this category, they offer fewer hot deals than the others in this group. Could Black Friday 2015 be their year?

Microsoft Store - If we had to pick a king or queen of laptop deals for this year, they would win hands down. Just when we thought we'd seen the best price on a laptop, they dropped it again. From Acer to Toshiba, they just might outdo the others while selling a smaller variety of items.

Top 2015 Black Friday Products:   

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 - So far, the very best deals on this exceptional table have come from Microsoft Store (no surprise there) and third party sellers at eBay. We're betting those two destinations will be great places to start when the real silliness rolls around this year.

Apple iPhone 6 - Add any number after the word "iPhone" and it's likely to be one of the hottest sellers of a given year. This year the best prices on unlocked versions have come from Ebay. The best "contract" deals have been delivered by Sprint at Verizon at their own sites.

Samsung Galaxy S6 - This remarkable phone has been practically an eBay exclusive when it comes to great deals. More than anyone by far, their vendors have stolen the show on hot GSM, CDMA, and internationally unlocked versions. We've seen "free gift card with purchase deals" from Best Buy and a few others, but if we were looking to pick up an S6, the first four letters we'd type in our browser would be e-b-a-y.

Xbox One - Microsoft Store (you probably saw that one coming) has had the best deals on the super popular new generation console. Those have come in the form of bundles that included games, controllers, and gift codes to sweeten the port. We expect enormous competition for this one in Black Friday 2015 from every seller in this grouping, and many others as well.

Playstation 4 - The same thing applies with the PS4. Lots of deals from everyone we expect them from and some we don't. But we're expecting actual price drops instead of just free stuff with purchase. The deals have almost exclusively come for those willing to purchase a bundle. We're betting we'll see that change this year, and finally be able to pay less, just for the console.
The Enormous Amazon Electronics Gift Guide! Follow Me on Pinterest
*This archived article is for reference purposes only.*

Alright, this one's for you techies. We affectionately call them (and sometimes ourselves, though we're probably not smart enough) "geeks" and we mean it with the utmost respect. Technology makes this crazy world of ours go 'round, making huge leaps in what we can do possible, and advancing at a pace so rapid not even our iPads can keep up. Well, this is your time of year, my friends. It's time to find the best deals on brands like Samsung, Bose, Nikon, Microsoft, GoPro and all the other fun stuff that makes life more convenient, and most importantly much more fun!

From HDTVs to streaming media players, we're about to see some of the most stunning prices of the year on electronics of all kinds. That's hardly a bold prediction, because it's what we see every year. One day deals, others that come and go as fast as "Lightning" and deals that pop up for minutes, then disappear, never to be seen again are part of the fun of the holiday shopping season.

Not everyone has a single item already in mind when they shop for gifts during the Black Friday shopping season. That's why we're dedicating this one to those of you who want to see electronics, lots of shiny, technologically advanced, great looking, great sounding electronics without having to search the entire web to see them. It's a great way to get some ideas on what you may actually want to buy.

Enter the Amazon Electronics Gift Guide. If, like me, you're rather obsessive about all things that are powered by electricity and make your life easier or more fun, you're going to like the enormous variety you can browse there. And very soon (likely as soon as the first of November) we're going to see price drops on a great deal of it.

Note that some of Amazon's best deals, for example, will be featured in their Gold Box or Lightning Deals. But you don't necessarily have to look there. When the price drops for an item, you will also see it on that item page while the lower price is available.

In the almost a dozen years (who's counting?) we've been doing this, many of the best Black Friday Deals (again, not just that day from about 11/1 right through December) will pop up there. It's where we've found all time lows on everything from the ultra-popular Roku Player to shockingly hot HDTV deals.

So what's in the Electronics Gift Guide, exactly? Well the variety is big, Jurassic World hungry dinosaur big, and covers all sorts of electronics fun. But just for the sake of sampling, here's a small taste of some of their categories, with the type of exceptional devices and products you'll find there:

Gamer:  Whether you play via console of PC, everything from gaming laptops to console headsets are in here. Bundles on Wii U, Xbox One and Playsation4 that include games, the latest racing wheel from Logitech, gaming environments from Gaems that you take with you, and those all-important headsets so you can hear your enemy before he sees you.

Wearables: It's the latest craze! Instead of wearing a boring watch, why not one that allows you to take phone calls? Or keep track of your workout? Why not one that does both and also plays music? Great wearables include the Microsoft Band, Mio Fuse, and the Garmin Fenix.

Home Entertainment: It happens to be my personal favorite, and if you're in to relaxing at home and enjoying a complete theater experience, it may become yours as well. The hot HDTV deals will be here, of course. But so will deals on home theater projectors, the latest TiVo device, the Roku 4 media player, and did we mention the huge selection of HDTVs?

Gadget Guru: Looking for a deal on an Google Nexus 6 smartphone? Or perhaps a high-tech 3D printer is on your gift list this year? Whatever innovates and or achieves technological awesomeness can be found here, like ultra fast solid state drives, tablets from Microsoft, Samsung and Asus, and even a droid shaped like a sphere will make your mouth water when you visit this section.

Buying My 50LF6000 Part III (Getting it!) Follow Me on Pinterest
As is often true in life, so it is with shopping: By accepting the fact that the delivery of my new LG 50LF6000 TV, I was saving quite a bit. In the past, I had almost exclusively ordered my TVs from Amazon. Had I done that in this particular case, I would have spent $50 more, and received $150 less in the form of the promotional eGift Card offered with purchase and free of charge from Dell. Basically, it didn't bother me too much that delivery would take longer because I decided to order from Dell's website.

And so I hooked up my entertainment center as much as possible, so that when my set arrived I had only to plug it in to the proper ports and start enjoying my set. A pair of HDMI cables waited patiently with me. The day after I ordered, I received shipping confirmation via e-mail. I clicked the included tracking number and it took me to the Pilot Freight Services website. The date and time (a four hour window, which is sadly common in the world of delivery) I had chosen was confirmed.

On the site, they also include an installation option. For an additional fee, they'll set up your TV for you. I didn't bother to look at the prices for their services, having gained valuable experience in this field via much research, and especially through trial, error, and more than a little frustration over the years.

On 8/3, my 50LF6000 arrived on a truck. The driver knocked on the door, brought the large box into my living room, had me sign that I had received my "prize", and swiftly departed. The only mildly frustrating part was that it had finally made it to my home at 3:25 PM, which was 25 minutes AFTER the four hour window cited by the deliverer.

Aside from their tardiness, all was good with the delivery. The driver apologized for the delay when he set it down. The box was in pristine condition, with nary a scuff mark visible. I opened the box, slid out my TV and began to plug it in.

Before I even begin to speak of the ability of the 50LF6000, I must mention how shocked I was by the weight of this 50" TV. It was shockingly light compared to the Samsung it was replacing, and I was thrilled to lift it, because I was about to mount it on a stand by myself.
Buying My 50LF6000 Part II (The Purchase) Follow Me on Pinterest
Even having seen the 50LF6000 in action, it was only for a short time. I hoped I would love it and was just looking for the best possible deal. I wanted my new set no later than the first few days of August, so that I could set it up and start watching almost as soon as we moved in. The lowest outright price I'd seen up to that point (it was around the 15th of July when I steeled myself to get it) was $549.00 including shipping.

Lo and behold, the good folks at Dell heard my plaintive wail for a deal and sent one straight to our company Inbox. They were offering the 50LF6000 for that same low price, but were throwing in $150 in the form of a promotional gift card free with purchase. Since I was looking purchase a TV without functionality, my plan for the "free money" they would give me was to pick up a brand new Roku 3. Of course, I would have change left over. A mouse? Maybe a 4 port hub? There were plenty of possibilities. Anyway, it was a great deal. I was sold.

Dell makes it easy to get deals like these. I simply added the TV to my cart at the site, and when the contents of the cart were displayed, it showed the TV along with the $150 Dell promotional Gift Card. I checked out as always. I was charged just over $20 in sales tax, but since we hadn't seen any seller that didn't charge tax offering anything close to the value of this deal on the 50LF6000, I didn't mind that too much.

The estimated delivery date was a bit of a surprise. For sets this size, Dell uses a delivery company (in this case Pilot) and though the service is free, it must be scheduled by the purchaser. I placed my order on July 24th, and the earliest delivery date available was August 2nd between the hours of 11 AM and 3 PM. For some, that may not seem like long to wait, but I was just a tad disappointed at having to forestall my viewing pleasure for 9 full days. And then I resigned myself that there were more important things to do in the first three days of occupancy in my new residence than setting up my home theater system. At least, there were more important things according to my wife.

Having made my purchase and scheduled the delivery date, there was nothing left to do now but wait. But while waiting, I kept on eye on other sellers just in case. It's a fairly common occurrence on the web to see a lower price in the days immediately following a purchase. In this case, I saw no better deal than the one I had taken advantage of.

I had read reviews on the LG 50LF6000 at a number of sites, including a few home theater magazines. They were good all around, and many loved the quality of the picture and thought it exceptional for it's price range. The few complaints I read were regarding the lack of smart functionality on this set and the fact that it offered only two HDMI ports. Neither was a deal breaker for me, and reading the thoughts of others, including some experts, only made me feel more confident in my choice.
Buying My 50LF6000 Part I Follow Me on Pinterest
There's more to buying a product than just the quality of the product itself, isn't there? The service you receive, the speed and quality of shipping, the helofulness (or lack thereof) of the company you purchased it from in the event of an issue, all of these contribute to the overall shopping experience. Crucially, those and other important factors also make for a complete picture that suggest whether you should purchase from that seller again.

And so, in the interest of complete transparency, and to give you an idea of what my personal experience was like with a specific seller, I'll be penning my thoughts on the purchases I make online periodically, right here in this section of our site.

Which brings us, happily, to my recent purchase of a new HDTV...

Having recently moved into a new house, I had struggled with the possibility of leaving my older model Samsung LCD TV behind. It needed a minor repair, weighed more than I wanted to lift onto a moving truck, and had seen it's best days. After some serious hand-wringing, I gave it away.

But if you know me, you also know that I wasn't going to find myself short an HDTV when I got to my new hacienda. Not this guy. Buy which one? The possibilities were endless, even more so for me than for most because of what we do here on Black Friday Central, which includes finding the best deals on a huge range of HDTVs.

Luckily, searching the web for HDTV deals has it's advantages. I had seen hundreds of different sets online, and a number of them in person in stores, at the homes of friends and family, and even one beauty in my doctor's office (a gorgeous Pioneer Kuro that still looked amazing!)

In between the sale of our home and moving into the new place, we spent almost a month in a hotel. During that time, the only TV I watched was the 32" set from LG in that room. The quality of that LED TV ended up being the deciding factor in my decision. This may sound strange, but the quality of the picture and sound of that "little" HDTV ended up being the reason I purchased my first set from LG.

The model I chose was the LG 50LF6000 50" LED TV. I had laid eyes on it at a neighbor's house just before we moved and had instantly loved it. When I asked my neighbor how he had tweaked the settings to get it to look so good, his answer was "it came that way right out of the box." That, plus the very good experience I'd had with the smaller hotel TV from LG, sealed the deal.

But where to buy my new TV?

(To be continued...)
Amazon Prime Day July 12th, 2016! Follow Me on Pinterest
*This article is for reference only. Obviously, these deals are expired.*

It's so big they have a sponsor for it! For the record it's Gatorade, but that is hardly the point. What is infinitely more significant is that they're promising a whopping 100,000 deals when July 12th rolls around. But what does this mean for shoppers like you? Here are some of our thoughts on what kind of deals you'll see and why we recommend that you check it out.

First of all, their first Prime Day Sale in July of last year (a celebration of their 20th year in business) was more than a few deals on popular items. It was a day in which they featured discounts in practically every category of merchandise they offer. It was so popular that customers ordered items at a pace faster than that year's Black Friday. We ran an updated list of some of our favorite offers here on the site, and had trouble keeping up with the sheer number of things we thought you might like.

Those who already have a Prime Membership will be able to shop beginning at midnight (Pacific Time). But what if you don't have already have a membership? Easy enough. Just sign up for a free trial of the service (typically 30 days worth) and you're eligible to get every single deal in the sale. If you don't want to sign up for an annual membership, you can cancel the trial at any point before it expires, and be charged nothing.

Of course, a significantly useful benefit of a membership, whether trial or annual, is the savings you'll get with free shipping. There is no shipping fee on Prime eligible items, and at the moment, that means more than 20,000,000 items incur absolutely no shipping charge. Though their minimum threshold for free shipping is typically $49, that is waived for the enormous number of items which are listed as "Prime Eligible." That means that $4 lightning cable, or $1.50 four pack of bath soap, or $8 toy we're expecting to see many of, will all ship for no extra charge on July 12th.

In our deals section here, beginning as soon as the sale begins, we'll keep you posted as the deals change. The best will likely come and go as quickly as you might expect, so we'll be here all day watching as they appear and disappear. Typically, the very best of them like 32" HDTVs for $99, Xbox Consoles for $200, and other hot deals we've seen in the past will be those that are posted, then show "unavailable" in the blink of an eye.

That's why we're here. We'll watch the sale closely for 24 hours, and throw some of the best offers up before they're gone. And knowing Amazon as we do after 11 years of bringing you their very best, we can confidently state that there will be many ways to save you money. We recommend you snag a free trial of the Prime service the day before the sale, then keep an eye on our sale post throughout the day. July 12th, 2016 is the big day at Amazon.
Dell i5548-1670SLV Signature Edition Laptop Review Part II Follow Me on Pinterest
On paper, the Dell Inspiron 15 (model i5548-1670SLV) had everything I was looking for. And since Micorsoft Store had it on sale for just $450, it looked like a great choice for me. It featured a 15.6" LED Touchscreen, an i5 Broadwell version processor, 8GB of memory, and a 1TB Hard Disk Drive, all of which sounded great and looked good on paper. So I pulled the trigger.

I was surprised when I received shipping confirmation the day after I ordered it, and even more surprised when it was listed as "Out for Delivery" the day after that. My new laptop arrived at my house just two days after I ordered it. Nice work, guys.

Of course, a laptop in a box is nothing more than a prop, so I immediately unpacked it and inspected it. It was double boxed and slid out of the wrapping and showed no signs of damage whatsoever. Another point for the folks who shipped it.

Most importantly, it caught my eye right out of the box. A very pretty, steel grey finish on the lid looked professional and sleek. The Dell logo imprinted in black on the front stood out nicely against that backdrop. I liked the look of it the moment I saw it.

From there I picked it up, immediately noticing the significant difference in weight between the i5548-1670SLV and my older Inspiron 15. This one was light as a feather in comparison, and I easily flipped it to get a look at the bottom. This laptop is slightly thicker at the back, and slopes down to make a long, thing triangle from the hinge to the front of the keyboard.

I popped open the hinge and found that I had to slightly slide my finger between the top and bottom to do so. This was a minor annoyance and took only a second or two to adjust to. Inside, I noticed that the touchpad was larger than my previous Inspiron 15, and featured a less prominent separation between the buttons on the left and right sides of it.

On went the power, and I was on the setup page within thirty seconds or so. The light turned on under the keys (a nice feature since I often work at night) and I quickly added my basic information. From there I was off to the web.

The i5548-1670SLV quickly asked if I wanted to connect to the strongest signal on the list of wireless connections, which happened to be mine. I chose it, entered my password, and headed to Black Friday Central just to be sure I was properly connected.

As I do with every laptop, I then headed to Mozilla's website to download their browser. From start to finish, downloading the latest version of my favorite browser took less than three minutes. I was already starting to like my new Inspiron very much.
Dell i5548-1670SLV Signature Edition Laptop Review Follow Me on Pinterest
To say I needed a new laptop would have been a stretch. In fact, I wasn't actively looking for one. My five year old Dell Inspiron 15R was holding up just fine. My Dimension series Desktop had been upgraded twice with additional RAM, and seemed to be giving us good performance still for everyday basic tasks like checking e-mail, doing a bit of web browsing, and serving as a central storage location for family photographs and video. I suppose that the PCs in our house were viewed as "good enough."

I guess that, in a nutshell, was the problem. None of those computers did anything VERY well. They accomplished the basics without shining. They opened windows but there was a limit to how many. They all booted up, but none of them booted up very quickly. The visuals were decent, but nothing like HD.

For the past few months, we've posted deal after hot laptop deal here on our site. Each time we posted one, I took a look, and began feeling tempted. But it wasn't because I wanted a gaming beast with $2,000 in technical specs. Our job here requires us to do some fairly spec intensive computing. We often have 10 or 12 windows open at one time, checking multiple vendor's sites for the best prices on all sorts of things.

The "old" computers I mentioned above strained when I asked them to open multiple windows, especially when there were memory sucking applications on those pages we opened. They managed to handle one window easily, then took a bit longer on the second, and from there had the potential to crash Firefox as I opened more.

Oh, and then there's the enemy of all of us, age. My eyes just aren't as strong as they once were, and they were starting to squint at the now inadequate resolution on my "old" machines.

What I'm trying to say is that partly from a desire for something a bit more snazzy, and partly because I needed a bit of an assist from better technology to handle the things we do here every day at a more expedient pace, I was starting to look much closer at some of the laptops we were posting here at BFC.

Simply put, the Dell laptops we were talking about in these pages were especially tempting to me. I had owned a pair of Toshiba laptops in the past and one did not meet my expectations, while the other crashed after only three years of fairly moderate use. The two Dell PCs I've owned have, on the other hand, performed better and lasted longer than any of those others.

So having narrowed my brand choice down to one rather quickly, I began to pinpoint exactly what I was looking for in a new Dell laptop.

My four previous laptops were all fifteen inch models. I had settled on the fact that less than that display size was insufficient (I own a Samsung ten inch Netbook that I rarely use for that reason) and anything larger was less portable that I desired. So my laptop would be a fifteen inch version.

The processor was going to be vital. Since we started our business of finding the best bargains on the web almost eleven years ago, the web has changed immensely. Most every page we open today is many times more complex than it was then, and therefore requires more processing might. An Intel i3 or equivalent would be the minimum acceptable processor version for my new Dell laptop.

Memory. Of course, most laptops sold today are up-gradable in this regard. But why buy one and upgrade it yourself when there are so many deals on pre-configured models with plenty of RAM right out of the box? I figured I could get a great deal on a laptop with 8GB or more with little trouble. With all of the windows we open every session online on our laptops, a good amount of RAM was essential and attainable.

Storage was an extra, but a nice one. I don't film in Blu-Ray, or shoot 4K video, so I didn't need a huge hard drive. But then, what if I decided I did want to do some of those things in the future? Anyway, 500GB of Hard Drive space would be plenty, and also easy to find in a decent price range these days.

I'm an audiophile (though not a sound engineer) so I wanted good sound. But since I had plenty of other high-end audio equipment in my house (A custom selected home theater system, a Logitech Squeezebox etc...) I didn't plan on my Dell laptop being comparable to those no matter how much I spent on it.

To be continued...
Taking on Cinematic History - a Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Follow Me on Pinterest
*In the interest of having something else to think about while we post thousands of great deals, we thought we'd re-up Jerrito's slightly cantankerous review...*

*Because elements of the plot were vital to my review of this film, the following contains a number of "spoilers."*

First off, I must mention that I am not a fan of science fiction. As a child, I was forced to watch the exceptionally campy Star Trek series by my older brother, who because of his superior strength, controlled which channel we watched and when. My only real exposure to the genre comes from now being "forced" to watch the Sci-Fi channel when one of her favorite shows is on. That being said, I fell in love with the Star Wars series as a child. My mother took my brother and I to see that first, and frankly best, film of the series. "A New Hope" was enthralling to this then eleven year old boy. Something about it just captured my attention and has continued to do so for thirty five years.

And so my thoughts are not based on any particular knowledge or understanding of what happens in a typical production in this world. I have seen only minutes of any of the Star Trek movies, and was never really attracted to any of them. I'm not fascinated by the space time continuum, and frankly, don't care much to know any more about it. Though I certainly don't criticize those who love that world and understand the love so many have for it, science fiction just isn't my thing. But like so many, I love the Star Wars franchise, seeing it more as a part of my youth I loved, and much more than just a story.

Was the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga ever going to garner universal praise from critics, while avoiding the ire of it's fans? Probably not. But Star Wars: The Force Awakens did plenty of things well, and if nothing else produced a logical stepping stone in the world's most popular series.

Though I always attempt to avoid reviews before giving my own take, they were impossible to avoid when I pre-ordered the Blu-Ray combo. The most common criticism I saw was the "sameness" of this film to the other six in the series.

Of course, this highly-anticipated installment is first and foremost a Star Wars film. Like it's predecessors, "Awakens" employs themes of "good vs evil" early and often. There is Kylo Ren, a villain whose anger has turned him in the direction of the dark side. At least one character "discovers" that she is a Jedi. A large, exceptionally powerful ship is used by the force to cause great destruction among innocents. An adorable droid figures prominently in saving the world. Stop me if this sounds familiar...

These are all popular plot points in the saga, to be sure. But personally, I found these to be no more or less static and "predictable than they were in all six of the previous chapters. And yet I enjoyed each of those films. It is, in many ways a true Star Wars movie, which means that many things will be "the same." And that's fine with me. However, there were things I questioned, to be sure, especially in the area of character development.

First and foremost, my attention stumbled more than once while watching Kylo Ren. I always found that a vital element in the personality of a certain Darth Vader was his seemingly absolute level of evil (at least until "Revenge of the Sith) and willingness to do anything to assist the emperor in his quest for world domination through any means necessary. While I understand that not all characters should be identical, Kylo Ren is so flexible in his ways, so wishy-washy and yes, even weak, that it is hard to fear him. With a "master" who is hardly fleshed out enough to hate also in the mix, I never achieved anything near the same sense of dread when either of these characters found himself in a warring posture that I felt each and every time that Vader, or any of the emperors in past productions, caused me to feel each and every time previous "evildoers" appeared on screen.

Frankly, Ren is one of the weaknesses of "Awakens." Perhaps his internal struggle between the forces of light and dark appear too quickly, or are too quickly exposed, or maybe it's something as simple as the revelation of his true appearance, far too "normal" to give the impression of evil, that makes it so. In fact, the "real" Ren (played by Adam Driver) looks and behaves more like a pouting prince than an evil, super powered "First Oder" demon. Or maybe it's the fact that Ren is too easily knocked from his perch on the first appearance of a light saber wielding Jedi. Whatever the individual reason, it is more likely the sum of all of these that makes what was probably intended to be a battle between good an evil something more akin to a battle of "good" versus "not so bad." The fact that his "evil voice" sounds like it's coming from a cheap Radio Shack speaker only makes this impression move obvious.

An ineffective portrayal of a character can truly hurt a film, and I thought this was also apparent in the Poe Dameron character. Though we can easily see the parallels between he and Luke Skywalker (though Poe is not, as far as I can tell, a Jedi) that is where the similarity ends. Sent by Leia to attempt to find more information about the location of her brother, Oscar Isaac gives us a cocky character who fails to even approach the likability of Mark Hamill. A number of Poe's lines are particularly cheesy, and when he appears at the outset of the movie to be in grave danger, his over the top facial expressions and excessive dramatics give the impression that he is anything but a servant of a cause.

The search is on for the evil organization called "The First Order." They're looking for the most famous of all Jedis, and the last surviving member, Luke Skywalker. Of course, their goal is to eliminate the last remnant of that group. But the ubiquitous knight is nowhere to be found. Now a General in the resistance movement, Leia is looking for him, too. Though this quest is often mentioned, we see the great hero only at the end of the film, and even then only as a foreteller of what is to come. He speaks no words as our hero, Rey approaches him. And the film ends.

If action is what you were hoping for, you are unlikely to be disappointed with "The Force Awakens." Viewers are treated to well choreographed fights throughout the movie. From fisticuffs to light saber duels the choreography (something Hollywood in general seems to have skillfully improved upon) is well executed and as believable as a "space sage" can be.

The score is one of the absolute highlights of this film, and it's given the proper attention by those who created and mixed the sound for the film. In a score that truly "owns it" we're taken low, high and points in between by full symphonic sound, then transitioned to lighter, airier tunes, all tying-in at various appropriate moments to those original, now timeless melodies that remind us that we're watching an epic film with everything that comes with it's pedigree. Even if you're looking, you'll find it difficult to find any sort of fault with the music in "Awakens." Few, in the history of film have so deftly drawn viewers in and kept them emotionally engaged in what they're watching as John Williams. My one critique would be that the large gap between the volume level of the bass in the sound effects (the explosions are move powerful than ever here) and the dialogue is a bit too much of an adjustment for most ears. Happily, I was able to somewhat even this out through my receiver. Though the audio is mixed in 7.1 surround, it sounded exceptional on my 5.1 system.

For the tech geek in you, the technical production of "The Force Awakens" is almost without peer. Both the stunning video and powerful, clear audio are the equal of the very best films in existence. Shot in true blockbuster sci-fi flick style, viewing it in the Blu-Ray format as I did is a pleasure. With highly detailed, expansive, gorgeous panorama shots from JJ Abrams, especially as rebel fighters approach their targets is truly something to behold. The skies are drop-dead gorgeous, and the "machines" have never looked more real. The quality of the shots is as good as any you're likely to see in any film this year, and used with great skill in "The Force Awakens. I could go on about the quality of the on screen images for hours, but in the interest of time, I will simply describe the view as "captivating."

Mostly, Star Wars: The Force Awakens does honor to a series that deserves it. The elements one would most expect to be present are there. We have heroes and villains, some painted clearly in black and white, and of course one character who appears in a very obvious gray. Plot twists, shocking discoveries about some of the characters, and an enormous amount of action are of course brightly and properly portrayed. While there are some inconsistencies in the development of the characters (perhaps affected by the single movie assignment of JJ Abrams as director - was he in a hurry to get to the point?) the movie does what a Star Wars movie should: Capture the viewer in an ever dangerous, never truly clear world of The Force.

5 Things I love about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

1.) I thought John Boyega was brilliant in his role as Finn, a convert to the cause/comic relief rebel. He had most of the funniest lines in the movie, and his delivery was spot on. Instead of distracting the way Jar Jar Binks was, Finn makes you laugh without taking all of the attention away from the fact that there's a moving playing in front of you.

2.) Similarly, I found Daisy Ridley to be a revelation as Rey. The actress skillfully portrays the latest "rebel princess" of the Star Wars Saga with a range surprising when you consider her youth. Clearly, she has star power, beauty, and most importantly, serious acting chops.

3.) In more than 40 years of watching movies, I found the videography in "Awakens" to be stunning and practically perfect. If you love visually beautiful films, the images alone are worth the price of admission. Everything from the expansive vistas of the various planets to the incredible detail of the vehicles is truly eye-poppingly good. Grab the Blu-Ray and watch it on a high-quality HDTV. You won't be disappointed in the way this film looks.

4.) Chewbacca is back. Enough said about that.

5.) Without diminishing the incredible love fans have for R2-D2, I must say that BB-8 was more than a welcome addition to the history of amazingly "human" droids in the series. Only Star Wars can make a machine "adorable" and they did it again with the new "assistant" robot. The "new guy" comes off as cute, and somehow heroic as he plays a vital part in the cause to save the world from the "Dark Side."

Things I Loved Less

1.) Hammy dialogue and slightly over portrayed characters have always been part of this series. Having said that, I found that Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher seemed to be trying too hard. Perhaps overshadowed by the new blood on set, the pair seemed to be trying too hard to make the move from young and idealistic (or in Han's case already cynical) to wise and truly dedicated to the cause. Or maybe it was just more fun to watch when I was younger.

2.) Kylo Ren. I'm not sure if it's the portrayal by Adam Driver or the development of the character by the writers, but this "dark prince" seems too unwilling too soon, and comes off as more schizophrenic than conflicted. In perhaps the biggest flaw in the film, he leaves us rather uninterested in his choice. As Star Wars "bad guys" go, I found him to be rather uninteresting, a cardinal sin in a series that thrives on villains bent on spreading pure, unadulterated evil.

3.) Rey seems to learn too quickly what it required the vaunted Luke Skywalker much longer to become a powerful Jedi. Though this is probably a method to produce a "savior-like" heroine quickly, in my opinion, it was rather incredible that she learned so quickly what Luke took 2.5 films to master. She kicks serious butt while wielding a light saber, showing that it's not so difficult to be the greatest fighter for the cause of "light" without too much actually instruction. Or at least so it appeared.

4.) Poe Dameron is the standard, cookie-cutter type "regular army" guy in the film. As such, his lines are droll, predictable, and in my opinion at times so annoyingly glib that I ceased carrying about his character by the time the Stormtrooper turncoat Finn hopped a ride with him. This was the casting call type choice that seemed to choose handsome (Oscar Isaac) over substantive. Though this choice was likely to have been intentional, for me it appeared to be responsible for a fighter pilot that should have been a bit deeper and more interesting.

5.) Many fans have vocally decried the use of very similar plot elements in the film. There's a gigantic, seemingly invincible warship menacing the very existence of the world. Pilots, part of a rebellion, are charged with destroying it. The task is daunting, but they fight on against seemingly impossible odds...Yes, it's been done before, and in this same series, of course. Is it laziness or fear of moving too far away from the most successful plot elements of the series? Though this and other like scenarios do seem familiar, I'm conflicted about whether to call it "lazy." Let's just say the The Force Awakens succeeded in spite of some copying from itself.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a flawed, yet worthy, more modern successor to the previous VI films in the saga. Once concerned about Disney's effect on the series, I'm considerably more optimistic about the future of Star Wars. "Awakens", like the others, is at times flawed, but still often engaging, and in a few moments enthralling. It carries on the legacy of this incredibly loved story skillfully, and in my opinion is worth watching if you're a fan of Science Fiction, and even if, like me, you just love a good story.
How and Where to get a Great Price on a Laptop this Season! Follow Me on Pinterest
With most of us actually doing our online shopping on a laptop, we thought now would be a good time to tell you how and where you'll find some of the best deals on them this Black Friday season. While a few of the best offers will appear at smaller sellers (we'll post those here when they appear) we've narrowed it down to some of the "safe bets" for places to search, especially if you haven't settled on a specific model yet. Below, we'll give you what we believe to be the best places to start, and explain why you should keep an eye on them...


They sell their own laptops and desktops, of course, but nowadays Acer is making some very nice PCs. Their review scores and customer reviews have improved right before our eyes as the years have passed. You can now shop at their very own site, and they've already kicked off some of their Black Friday level prices.

Dell Home and Dell Small Business

In our estimation, probably the best in the business. You can find everything from an 11" laptop made with kids in mind for $150 to a $1900 best with 15.6" screen that shines in gorgeous 4K. Best of all, they're always competitive. Last year, both sites offered large price drops, and did so throughout November and right through the 20th or so of December. They've also already gone live with some early Black Friday Deals.


Case in point: When my sister in law was looking for a Macbook Pro last year around this time, the best price I found for the model she wanted was from a seller named eTechGalaxy at eBay's site. It was so relatively inexpensive that I did not see it beat by anyone for six months after I bought it for her. With so many sellers including Best Buy, NewEgg and literally thousands more, the competition is so fierce that they often beat pretty much everyone we know of on specific models.


Again, you'll find their PCs for sale there. But since it's the manufacturer doing the selling, you'll also find eveyrthing from a small tablet sized laptop to their brilliantly constructed Yoga laptops with incredible flexibility. The best prices we found on most of their models were here last holiday season, and we expect the same to be true this year. By the way, they've kicked off their Black Friday offering early as well.


It's likely that you'll find the cheapest laptop here. Some of that is because they're always competitive this time of year, but also because they aren't too concerned about carrying only the big brand names. It's very likely you'll find an off brand model laptop for under $200 there at some point this season, but also a $1,000 HP machine at a big discount.


The majority of their deals are valid for one day only or until they sell out of that product. This time of year, the latter is more likely. While you're likely to see a hot deal on a brand new, in the box laptop, you should expect to find many more deals on "certified refurbished" models at truly exceptional prices. Since they're now owned by Amazon, we trust that you'll get a good deal on a good machine there or they'll make good on it.
Walmart Black Friday Deals plus Sneak Peek! Follow Me on Pinterest
For years, Walmart has been one of the most eager, and sometimes best purveyors of Black Friday done big. This year is no exception. Their Black Friday Sale is posted on their site and looks quite enticing to us. While we predicted that we would see great holiday level deals as soon as November 1st, they somehow managed to beat our prediction. The sale starts now and runs right up until Christmas Eve, with some VERY large discounts on the massive variety of merchandise that only one big box store can provide. It begins with their Black Friday Sneak Peek, where we're already finding some great offers.

The samples below are from the Walmart Black Friday Sneak Peek, which will eventually become the actual Black Friday Sale. Prices can change at any time. But we're confident that there are already many deals worthy of your attention right now.

  • Apple Watch Series 3 GPS $169.00
  • Apple 10.2-inch WiFi iPad $299.99
  • Vizio Quantum M506x-H9 4K Smart TV $349.99
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Convertible 14" Laptop $329.00
  • IonVac Robot Vacuum $99.00
  • Bissell Powerforce Helix Upright Vacuum $48.00
  • Tramontina Primaware 18 Piece Non-stick Cookware Set $35.96
  • The Pioneer Woman FlexBrew Single-Serve Coffee Maker $39.99
  • Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition $59.00
  • KidKraft Ainsley Wooden Swing Set / Playset $264.00
  • L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Remix Super Surprise 70+ Box $98.00
  • VTech KidiZoom Creator Cam HD Video Kids' Digital Camera, Green Screen $49.44
Video Games
  • NBA 2K21, 2K, Nintendo Switch $44.99
  • Madden NFL 21 for PS4 or Xbox One $39.88
  • Assassin's Creed Valhalla for PS4 or Xbox One $49.94
  • Sony Playstation 4 DualShock 4 Controller With FIFA 21 for $99.00
Our Prime Day Summary Follow Me on Pinterest
So the big sale (you know the one) has passed. For two days the entire web seemed to be focused on it, including the vast number of retailers who participated in making Amazon's Prime Day sale a pretty big deal. It became a real event, with lots of competition and price matching, and we saw some pretty good to great prices. Here's a few more things that we noticed from the bigger retailers that may portend what will come during the Black Friday through Cyber Monday period...

Of course, this was all about Amazon. They kicked off on day one with deals across a wide swatch of categories. There were quite a few true bargains featured, including on what we call "the good stuff." For us, that's a sign of an interest in going big, because shoppers will only be enticed by discounts on household supplies for so long. We saw deals on iPad, Sony, DeWalt, Mattel and a host of other top brands. Did the prices meet expectations? As always, that's up to you, and your budget. From our point of view, the deals were slightly below our expectations on many of the most popular items. The biggest deals were on Amazon devices, including Kindle, Echo and all iterations of their Fire TV Platform. That's fine but without huge discounts on the "other brands" it came off as a bit of a massive, two day marketing campaign for...Amazon.

Another thing that we found a tad off-putting was that the majority of the deals seemed to appear on Day one of the sale, and last right through the end of Day two. That seemed to us like an odd choice to us. Why expand availability? Yes, it's good for the shopper to have longer to decide whether to make a purchase, but doesn't that also negate the effect of a "limited time deal?" Worse, some of those deals became available due to their popularity.
Look, we love Prime Day. And because it's such a big deal, and it is Amazon after all, we always expect big things. This time around, we think they may have fallen just a bit short of that. But as I often say with sales in October that just begin to peak our interest, this is just the beginning. The holidays are on the horizon, and we're confident that we've yet to see their best. We fully expect the "hot stuff" to get here soon.

Walmart continues to bill itself as serious competition to the online shopping throne. While we love that they compete and price match because it's good for consumers, but we think that a few improvements would certainly help their cause. Better organization at their online portal would help them actually do so. There's a lack of cohesiveness there that confounds us at times. There's a mish mash on their pages that just makes it difficult to know where to go. That's a shame because they do offer some exceptional deals. We just think they should be easier to find.

Of course, many other popular retailers participated in the madness. Macy's dropped prices AND offered a coupon to get additional discounts at checkout and deserves credit for being the best in their space for months now. We expect more from them as the holidays near, and look forward to shopping there ourselves. If you're looking for apparel, kitchen items, perfumes, toys and more this year, we highly recommend them.

In our opinion, Staples has shined for the past few months. During the Prime Day festivities, they featured some fantastic prices on laptops, office furniture, and all sorts of great daily essentials, from paper towels to hand sanitizer. And they differentiated themselves from the other office stores by featuring free shipping on all orders, large and small beginning a few months ago. It's another place we recommend you keep an eye as November approaches.

Much More than Amazon! Follow Me on Pinterest
In the eyes of some, Prime Day will be a preview of what is to come. We'll see some good deals, they say, but it's nothing like Black Friday. Well, around here we have a different point of view. Our experience tells us that this WILL be a huge sale, and there absolutely will be the type of deals we see during the holidays in Amazon's 2 day retail joyride.

But the biggest reason we think this will be a sale of massive proportions can be found in our Inbox. It's a simple matter of competition. We've been receiving e-mails from many of our affiliate partners for weeks that tell us of large discounts coming on or around the 13th of October. That date, of course, is when Amazon kicks off it's two day Prime event.

So we can tell you about what we see, but not where it will be coming from. Not yet, at least. They ask us to keep that quiet, and we'll happily honor that. Sales on shoes, electronics, housewares, appliances and practically everything your heart desires are on the horizon. The retailers who promise to jump in on the action include some of the biggest names in the business, along with many of our favorite smaller endeavors. And the discounts promise to be hefty. Some of them are even using the word "Prime" in their advertising. Their intent is quite obvious.

Plus we're confident that we'll see the usual price matching from retailers that we've become accustomed to around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, once the sale begins. Remember, if you see a great deal at Amazon, take a look around. Their competitors will surely take a shot at matching or beating that offer. And we think you'll be surprised at how quickly, and how often this happens.

We plan on spending Prime Day (both days, actually) posting Amazon's best Prime Day Deals, because that's where the main action will be. But when the others jump in, we'll post theirs as well. Because we want you to have options. And we REALLY want you to save, no matter where the deals are.


What to Expect from Amazon's Prime Day! Follow Me on Pinterest
The first Amazon Prime Day hit the web in July of 2015, as the retail giants' way to "celebrate" it's 20th Anniversary. Since then, we've seen it grow into an almost, but not quite, Black Friday level event. And so we were expecting this year's even to be equally massive. But 2020 is no ordinary year, is it? As a friend of mine recently commented "All that's missing is the hail!" So have things changed? Will this year's event, once-delayed and now occurring on October 13th and 14th, live up to past iterations? Will we again have the opportunity to save on everything we've ever dreamed of purchasing?

Let's start at the source. "Prime Day is back with epic deals on top brands. Exclusively for Prime members. Deals in Electronics, Fashion, Home & Kitchen & More" their own website touts. That basically sounds like every previous year's sale. But last year we found not only almost as many deals as we witnessed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but discounts on an enormous variety of merchandie. From their front page Gold Box to their limited time Lightning Deals, it seemed that everything was discounted. We imagine that the variety of products staggered the imagination, and we saw items like fishing poles, bread yeast, and even rubber bands on sale. In our view, with 15 years of doing this behind us, it was truly impressive.

And so, if you're thinking that this year's sale could be a dud, we're betting on this being quite the opposite. Yes, things are difficult for many American workers. Stores are limitimg the number of customers in their brick and mortar locations, and some folks will be in no shape to spend for this sale. But with Amazon, the usual rules rarely apply.

So expect big things. We do. And one thing that is likely to steer Amazon toward offering us more and better deals is that we love to shop. When we can, Americans collectively spend enormous sums of money on all sorts of things. We are consumers, folks who love to try new stuff, and are likely continue to stay that way. Amazon Prime Day will probably be as big a deal (excuse the pun) as ever. They are in strong financial shape, but always aggressive in pursuing their intention to stay that way. Not only are thousands of great deals on the way, but as of this posting, they've already begun offering "Early Prime Day Deals" on Amazon devices, with more to come.

As always, we'll be following the sale and posting the best deals right here on our Home Page!

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