While American parents ranked this year’s Back to School sales best for finding tablet deals (and laptop deals), ahead of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday (see Back to School Shopping Survey), comparing pricing on tablets is all about timing. Sales for many computing devices fluctuate by the week, and often that unbelievable deal sells out so fast-gone in less than 24 hours. Add that both Back to School and Black Friday shopping seasons now last for weeks and the moniker of “best”, or “better” gets fuzzy.
That said, the key to cashing in on August’s tablet sales comes from stacking discounts, taking a sale-priced item and factoring in any eligible to save more from student discounts, tax free holidays, FatWallet cash back, rebates (both instant and mail-in), coupon codes, and free shipping offers. As well, pre-owned and refurbished tablets really help families on tight budgets and often stack with these same eligible discounts. When this shopping tactic is part of your back to school strategy, the prices on tablets, and most other items, can often dip under that crazy Black Friday deal from last November (see FatWallet’s back to school sales promo for the best current savings).
Top 5 Back to School Tablet Deals vs. Black Friday:
Dare to compare the best tablet deals? While a few of the top tablets from Matt Swider’s Best Tablets of 2015 list on TechRadar made our comparison, we focused on 5 popular tablet brands to see if current low prices hold up to their Black Friday tablet deals.
Apple: iPad Mini – iPad Air
• Current iPad Deals: One of the best Apple iPad Air 2 deals (16GB) we found yesterday was on Amazon for $435. Amazon also lists an iPad Air for $350. Staples comes in with the lowest iPad Mini 2 (w/retina display) at $279, while Walmart is offering the original iPad Mini for $199. Of course, you can find numerous sites offering iPads pre-owned and refurbished for at least $100 off the prices above, including one of your best bets for a low price at eBay.
• Black Friday iPad deals: Just about every store (and their brother) had an iPad deal last November, many with in-store gift cards and as doorbusters and Best Buy just marked down all iPads by $100 (see all the loot). If we exclude these perks and focus on 16GB wifi only models sale prices (add $100 for each memory upgrade), you could get an iPad Air 2 for $499 from everybody, iPad Air $299 from HHGregg, iPad Mini 2 for $239 from Staples, and the iPad Mini for $199 from Walmart. Many major retailers offered additional in-store gift cards as an incentive to buy from them, however some of these were limited quantity doorbusters.
Amazon Fire HD 7
• Current Amazon Fire HD 7 deals: The going price for Fire HD 7 is $139, $99 for an HD 6, $179 for a HDX 7″ and $379 for a HDX 8.9″. This pricing is pretty consistent from Amazon, to Best Buy to other retailers offering Kindles. Note: Most Amazon Fire HD models are on back-order for early fall delivery and includes special offers for Prime members (see features for all Fire HD models in this longest scrolling page ever).
• Black Friday Amazon Fire HD 7 deals: Last November you could get a Fire HD 7 8GB for $118 at Frys while Amazon offered it form Black Friday thru Cyber Monday for $109, Fire HD 6 8GB for $79 at Best Buy matching Amazon’s price, and current prices of $179 for a HDX 7″ and $379 for a HDX 8.9″ were status quo 9 months ago.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7″
• Current Galaxy Tab 4 deals: Gamestop leads the way with a $149 price tag on the 8GB model, while the GeekSquad at Best Buy has refurbs for $129. Kmart has the 16GB model for $199 and is offering a back to school promo of 6% increased cash back.
• Black Friday Galaxy Tab 4 Deals: Last November you could get a Galaxy Tab 4 8GB for $149 from several retailers including Adorama and Toys R Us. Office Depot had the 16GB model for $199, while Best Buy delivered a flat 25% off all Galaxy Tab 4 tablets.
Microsoft Surface 2
• Current Microsoft Surface 2 deals: The Surface 2 16 GB model is difficult to find, but the Surface 2 32 GB is readily available with Newegg bringing a Throwback deal of $284, while for a few more dollars you can nab the 64GB model from Sears for $319 +3% cash back.
• Black Friday Microsoft Surface 2 deals: Last November you could get a Surface 2 16 GB for $299 from several retailers, and MicroCenter offered the 64GB model for $449. Tiger Direct came down to $799 for the Surface Pro 3.
Dell Venue 8
• Current Dell Venue 8 deals: The Dell Venue 8 Pro 32GB is currently available for $189 – add this 40% off offer in FatWallet Hot Deals forum and you can pick one up for $133.50 w/code, +2% cash back for FatWallet members who shop through the Dell page.
• Black Friday Dell Venue 8 deals: Last November, both Dell and Adorama offered the Venue 7 for $99 (one of the best Black Friday tablet deals of the year), while Dell and TigerDirect had the Venue 8 32GB for $149, and MicroCenter had the Venue 8 64GB for $249.
Apples to apples? It takes some savvy home work to compare Back to School tablet deals with Black Friday tablet deals. The nice thing is that retailers really want to move current tablet inventory before new models hit in November, so monitoring prices during August will usually pay off for finding similar tablet deals we found last holiday.