Don’t Let Black Friday Equal a Blue Christmas

Here in America, after we’re all stuffed with turkey and completely worn out from holiday travel, we have this strange ritual we call Black Friday shopping. Retailers love this time of year. They taunt shoppers for weeks with promises of out-of-this-world prices on all of the hot items you could ever want. Then, on the day after Thanksgiving, at the stroke of midnight, the retailers open up their magical realms for countless shoppers to enjoy. It doesn’t take long to feel most of the magic being sucked out of the room when the retailers have only stocked 3 of the items that 1,000 people are looking for. What’s even worse is when you get one of these so-called great deals and it turns out to be a poor quality product.

There is no way that I can educate you on every deal out there in one small article. However, I hope that I can give you a little more insight into some of the things that you’re going to see out there in the open market this weekend. Today, I am dealing with laptops because I am getting a lot of questions about them this year. I am not going to tell you where these deals are because I am not advertising for one store over another. I just want to give you some insight on what to look for in your Black Friday tech.  So let’s get started!

Low End Budget Deals

Let’s start with the low hanging and most enticing fruit. One of the box store giants is offering this incredible deal pictured below.

Compaq AMD C-50

I must agree that this is a fantastic price for a laptop. Let me warn you, however, that there are some down sides to this deal. Highlighted in red, above, you will see that this laptop has an AMD C-50 processor. I don’t want to knock AMD. In fact, I am a fan because they usually perform well at a lower price. The problem that I see here is that a Grandma is going to fight the crowds and get this for her 16 year old grandson. If that boy plays games on his laptop and likes to video chat with his friends, this laptop will fail miserably. The C-50 processor has its limitations. If Grandma is buying this laptop for herself to get on the internet and look at pictures and read the news, then this laptop may be OK. Don’t even think about buying this for an engineering student in college.

Now, from this same store, they are offering a little sweeter deal for about $50 more. This deal is pictured below.

HP e-350

This laptop features the AMD E-350 processor. This is a better deal, for sure. The E-350 will work with HD video and is a step up from the C Series AMD processors. However, if your little Johnny is a big gamer and likes to do a lot of multitasking, then this will still be a bit of a disappointment. The E series processors are energy efficient, but they were designed for the little netbooks. Putting these in a full sized laptop is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion. If you are Grandma, and just do a little browsing on the web, then this would be a decent choice for you.

Mid Range Laptop Deals

Let’s take it up a notch! This little Samsung caught my eye because it has a decent price and a decent processor. Pictured below, you will see that it has an Intel Pentium. This is not a mind blowing deal, however, it helps me point out a little something about Intel’s processors. Pentium is better than Celeron. If you see Celeron on the box, then you should think, “low performer”. If you see Intel Atom on the box, then you should think, “netbook” because that processor really wasn’t designed for a full-sized laptop. The laptop below is better than the previous two. I would feel comfortable using this laptop for Office apps and homework. However, this is probably not your engineering student’s laptop, either.Samsung Pentium Laptop

Pictured below, is a bit better of a deal. For $50 more, you get the Intel i3 processor. The i3 is a dual core processor and is a step up from those that I’ve mentioned previously. I like the i3 processors. The i3 processor is meant to be used in a regular-sized laptop. I would feel comfortable using this at work or for college. It is still considered a budget laptop processor. For most people who are just browsing the web and watching videos, this laptop would do quite nicely.

HP i3

Higher Performing Laptop Deals

The last laptop deal that I am going to point out is the one pictured below. This laptop is actually a “decent” deal. First of all, it has the Intel i5 processor in it. The i5 series is pretty powerful and is really good for video and pretty much anything else the “power user” would want to do. This is one of the very few i5 deals I saw on the Black Friday ads so it caught my attention. If you can find a laptop with an Intel  i5 or i7 processor for $500 or less, you have got yourself a deal worth looking at.Acer i5

Hopefully this gives you some idea of what to look for. Notice that I focused mainly on processor in this article. There is a reason for this. Manufacturers are cutting the most corners with processors to get their prices lower. There are, of course, other factors to consider. You might consider whether or not you want a full-sized keyboard with a number pad on the side. Accounting people love these kinds of laptops. The trade off is usually that this requires a bigger screen size which adds more weight. You may also consider whether having a web cam is important to you or not. Also, the amount of RAM should be considered. However, an AMD c-50 laptop with 4GB of RAM is not going to be as good as an Intel i3 with 3GB of RAM. Processor matters more than RAM in this instance.

I hope that this helps you to avoid the Black Friday mistakes that I know some people are going to make. As always, feel free to comment and ask questions. We love to get your feedback. Good luck with your shopping!

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Darrin Jenkins

Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!