The 5 Worst Black Friday Deals of 2014

By on November 24, 2014

black-friday-shopper-logic-memeWhile the majority of us love snagging great deals while shopping on Black Friday, either online or at the store, there are number of fairly horrible deals out there this year that are designed to take advantage of consumers that are looking for low prices over quality.

On the flip side, there are also regularly priced items, perhaps bundled with other items, that simply aren’t great deals or products that were overpriced to begin with.

We have scoured through the ads to bring you the Black Friday deals of 2014 that make Grumpy Cat even grumpier. Here’s the roundup:

Off-Brand Tablets

This product is usually easy to spot. It’s probably under $100 and reviews of the tablet (if available) are absolutely horrible. Problems that are typical of these tablets include low resolution screens, freezing issues, lack of battery power, lack of storage and older versions of Android that are now incompatible with popular applications.

The most popular of this bunch are the RCA tablets at Walmart and Target, ranging from 7 inches up to 10 inches. Other off brands this year include JLab, Nobis, Zeki, Trio Stealth and Sophix at retailers such as Staples, RadioShack, Sears, KMart, GameStop and OfficeMax / Office Depot.

xzibit-tablet deals

You would be much better off going with a previous generation tablet from a name brand manufacturer. It’s much more likely to be supported over time and the quality will be infinitely better than the off-brand models. Our personal pick in the 7″ size would be the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite, a model that can be found in the $89 to $99 range (OfficeMax / Staples) as well as the HP Stream 7 ($99) for Windows users (Microsoft Store).

Wii U Bundles

While it appears that Microsoft is pulling out all the stops on getting more Xbox One units sold this season, Nintendo is taking the opposite approach. Admittedly, the company is in a perfect position this year not to reduce the price for two reasons. They have two, 2014 system sellers, Mario Kart 8 & Super Smash Brothers, to drive holiday sales. Secondly, the most expensive Wii U system is still cheaper than either the Xbox One or PS4.

Toy-Story-wii-u

While you may be able to spot a bundle online this week, the only advertised bundle that’s positioned at a significant discount is the $199 Skylanders bundle at Toys R Us. However, it’s for the white 8GB Wii U model (not the 32GB) and you (or your kids) really have to like Skylanders to justify the price. (BTW, the 8GB Basic Set has approximately 3GB available for data storage and downloads. The 32GB Deluxe Set has approximately 25GB available for data storage and downloads.)

We have two strategies for you this year. First, you should check the Nintendo Store for refurbished 32GB models at $200 (currently out of stock). According to consumers, the quality of these systems is impeccable, basically arriving in brand new condition. If that fails, consider the Mario Kart 8 bundle exclusively at Walmart. While at full price, you will save $60 on purchasing Mario Kart 8 separately.

Beats by Dre Headphones

While Black Friday is definitely the best time to find the most aggressive discounts on Beats by Dre headphones ($69 for the Drenched model at RadioShack, after rebate), that still doesn’t make it a good deal. Beats by Dre are notoriously overpriced, much like any company that dumps millions upon millions into celebrity-fueled marketing. You are essentially paying for a fashion statement instead of amazing sound quality.

Wonka-beats

Condescending Wonka Agrees.

If you (or your gift recipient) cares about sound quality more than looking like the rest of the sheep, look into awesome on-ear headphone brands like V-Moda, Sennheiser and Sol Republic. Specifically, we recommend Sol Republic TracksSennheiser Momentum and the V-MODA Crossfade models. Even at models in the $100 range, you are going to get vastly better sound quality than the $250 Beats Studio models.

Holiday Decorations

two-kindsWe know that those 50 percent off sales at most retailers looks pretty darn tempting. However, prices will only continue to get better at December 25th approaches and retailers are trying to sell through all the seasonal products that will have to be marked down to 75% to 90% off post-Christmas.

While post Christmas is obviously the best time to find deals, the majority of people need decorations before the holiday. We recommend shopping in the second or third week of December for those deals.

You are likely going to see discounts climbing to 60% to 75% off MSRP on trees, wrapping paper, outside decorations and more specialty items. We also recommend shopping for larger artificial trees just after Christmas to snag deals in the $20 to $50 range on trees up to 9-feet high.

Off-Brand HDTVS over 47″

With so many off-brand televisions hitting rock bottom prices on Black Friday, it’s hard to ignore the cost differences between name brands, like Samsung or LG, and off-brands, like Element, Insignia and Sceptre. While there’s little risk in gambling on a $100 32-inch HDTV for a guest room, it’s a different story when we are talking about the television for the living room, likely 47 inches or higher.

badluckbrian-HDTVThis advice is especially salient on televisions 55-inches and above. While that $499, 60-inch Element at Best Buy may be tempting, the risk involved is very high due to poor ratings from Consumer Reports and other review publications.

In general, the picture quality is also poor compared to competitors. You are much better off sizing back down 10 inches to pick up a 50″ Samsung, LG, Sony or another proven brand.

On the flip side of the coin, you should also be wary about the Ultra HD television deals. While these deals are the most aggressive we have seen on brand name UHD models, prices will be even better in Feb / March after the new sets are announced at CES 2015. Basically, manufacturers have to clear out old stock to make way for new UHD models.

Check out our Black Friday Hub for our picks on the best In-Store Deals

About Mike Flacy

By day, I'm the Editor-in-Chief for The CheckOut in addition to being the content manager for Steve's Digicams and High-Def Digest. During my free time, I love to write about pop culture, home theater, digital photography, social media, mobile technology and cool gadgets!

10 Comments

  1. Mt_Ron

    December 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I know Samsung, Sony & LG are brand names. Element, Sceptre & Chonghang (or whatever it is) are not. I ordered a Hitachi TV. Hitachi is a brand I recognize from years ago, would it be considered a brand name or did someone license the name and slap it on some crap TVs?

  2. tracy

    December 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

    dang. I bought one of those walmart laptops. Maybe it’ll be okay since all he does is surf the web and send an occasional email.

  3. Paul

    December 1, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Disagree about the Wii U bundle. At Meijer they had the bundle for $280 with a $30 off next shopping trip. Today they have a 20% off coupon on an electronic item. So, I got the bundle and Mario Kart for less than $300. Understood that Meijer isn’t everywhere, but it’s here in Michigan!

    • Yooper

      December 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      … Not where I live — also in Michigan. 😉 The closest Meijer is about 300 miles away!!

  4. unruly

    November 27, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Unusual article since most sites are focusing on the great deals. I’ve noticed in the past that many laptops for sale on Black Friday have lower quality screens or limited RAM–it’s just not worth it. Thanks for the great article on what to avoid.

  5. Katie

    November 27, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    A lot of the “deals” on Black Friday TVs are from brands that manufacture products specifically for Black Friday itself. Many TVs are off-brand, but there are reputable brands (like LG) that make models for a particular retailer to be sold on Black Friday.

  6. Doug Dingle

    November 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Stay away from Sceptre TV sets. I bought a 32″ for my parents a year or two ago, and the remote had a range of about 5 feet, and only worked when held up directly in front of the set. I tried a powerful universal remote, same story. The panel itself was spewing so much IR, it swamped the remote’s IR commands.

    But the response from their tech support was the best: “Yeah? So what? That’s how it work (sic).”

    Costco occasionally gets 1080 JVC 32″ sets for $199, and they are spectacular. Of course, can’t go wrong with Samsung either.

  7. Saundra M

    November 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    We bought an off brand tv at Walmart last year and so far it’s been great. But I love my 808 headphones. Great quality!

  8. Stumpy

    November 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Lucked out and ordered a Refurbished Wii U Deluxe a few days ago, just before they sold out.

    32GB Version “Like New” for $200 is not bad at all.

  9. Headphone King

    November 24, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Grado headpohones are the best…all other pale in comparison…Google GRADO LABS, yo wont be disappointed., but yo are right on one thing…Sheep=Beats, they absolutely suck.

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