How to Spot Shady Gadget Deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2013

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CYBER MONDAY 2013

If you’re an avid follower of the FatWallet.com blog, you obviously know the value of a great deal, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, you can look forward to some of the deepest discounts of the year. As you’re taking advantage of the wallet-saving prices, it’s important to look out for deals that are simply too good to be true. Cheap laptops, tablets, and other gadgets abound on the front pages of many advertisements, and buyer’s remorse is no rarity for people who once thought they’d found a good deal.

Bad electronics have now been dubbed “anti-deals,” low-priced, substandard products that look great in the ream of Sunday ads about to hit your mailbox, but are less than stellar once you compare apples to apples with truly good products. Here are some tips on how to avoid the bad deals while taking advantage of the good:

Don’t Get Stuck with Something You Don’t Want—Do Your Homework

Whether you’re looking at laptop deals on Black Friday, or tablet discounts on Cyber Monday, just remember that along with a price drop can also come a drop in quality. A shiny exterior doesn’t mean the gadget you’re looking at has the muscle under the hood to power the applications you want or the features to give you the functionality you’re actually looking to get from your electronics.

The door-buster items you see in Black Friday ads are often what retailers call “loss leaders,” items sold at a big loss in order to get shoppers to spend more on other, more expensive items. The problem is, the stock of loss leader electronics is always small, and the supply of crummy products and decent gadgets at or above their regular prices.

Tips for Getting a Good Cyber Monday Deal

How do you avoid getting stuck with an underpowered laptop, a dumbed-down smartphone, or a poor imitation of a tablet? The truth is that there’s simply no substitute for doing your homework before you add that deal to your real or digital shopping cart.

Here are a few tips:

  • Learn the lingo: Learn to compare the specs on electronics. Know the difference between RAM and memory, between a graphics card and integrated graphics, etc. If you know your stuff, you can avoid a barebones gadget purchase and maybe even recognize a diamond in the rough.
  • Read those reviews: Get more input about a product, or a seller, that’s more than just how many stars they get. Read a couple of reviews on the model number (from more than one source!), to make sure that laptop you’re about to buy isn’t a lemon.
  • Subscribe to deal alerts: Follow FatWallet.com for the latest information on discounts and deals. Sign up for price alerts, RSS feeds on retailer bargain pages and early access to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to snag those loss leaders before everyone else.
  • Watch for red flags: Shady retailers are trying to mislead you! Watch out for phony reviews that seem unnatural or computer generated. Be suspicious of ridiculously low prices for big ticket items like tablet PCs and ultrabooks.

Whether you’re braving the Black Friday rush, gearing up for Cyber Monday, or simply scouring sites for those deal-day countdown clocks, just remember that information is on your side. Use these tips, and a healthy dose of skepticism, to help you sift through those “anti-deals” and find something truly great to wrap up this season.

Brian Jensen works for Dell and has a passion for learning and writing about all things technology. Right now he is very interested in Black Friday deals you can learn more at Dell.com. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with his family.

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