The 5 Worst Black Friday Deals of 2014
While 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:
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.
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.
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.
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 Tracks, Sennheiser 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.
We 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.
This 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.