It's a jungle out there
Yep, it’s that time of year again. And true to tradition, Black Friday presents its usual challenges for the consumer looking to score a great deal.
To be sure, there are many great deals to be found, but they can often be obscured by loads of “deals” to be leery of.
That seems particularly true of home-theater deals, which can present a minefield of sub-par models from the big brands, outdated tech, and trumped-up “bargains” that aren’t actually that at all.
Lucky for you, we’re willing to sift through the crap in search of the real gems. Read on to see some some of the worthwhile Black Friday deals that have been announced so far. Some are already available; for others we note what day the deal goes live.
If you’re really itching to shop, check out our list of the best early deals in a variety of categories.
AMAZON AND BEST BUY: Samsung 8-Series 4K HDR TVs
Major electronics vendors sometimes slap their names on low-quality displays just for Black Friday, but that’s not the case with these Samsung TVs.
The 8 Series represents Samsung’s best 4K HDR panels that don’t use eye-popping quantum dot tech, and they’re available at their lowest prices yet.
The 55-inch model is selling for $900, while the 65-inch model costs $1,300 from Best Buy, for a discount of $300 in both cases. Amazon also has the 55-inch and 65-inch models for the same price. Both deals are available from now through Black Friday.
BEST BUY: 50-inch Sharp 4K Roku TV for $180
This TV normally costs more than $400, and while it won’t provide the best picture, it does have Roku’s stellar streaming software built in. Unfortunately, Best Buy’s advertising this deal as a 5 p.m. Thanksgiving doorbuster, which means you’ll probably have to muscle your way through a horde of shoppers to get it.
BEST BUY: Nvidia Shield TV with game controller for $170
The Nvidia Shield TV is an excellent streaming box, especially if your interests are on the geeky side. Beyond just serving up the usual streaming apps, the Shield TV can act as an over-the-air DVR, Plex server, or smart home hub, and it’s not a terrible gaming machine to boot.
The game controller also allows hands-free voice control for Google Assistant. Best Buy’s Black Friday deal is $30 off the regular price, and $10 less than the version that doesn’t have a game controller.
BEST BUY: 32-inch Insignia TV for $100
Although you shouldn’t expect much in the way of picture quality from this 32-inch, 720p display, $100 is still an unbeatable price for a small TV. Best Buy normally sells it for $150.
Deals start Thursday, November 23.
DELL: Vizio 50-inch 4K HDR Dolby Vision TV for $500 (plus $100 gift card)
Until recently, this TV had been selling for $550 from most retailers. I know this because I bought one myself. Dell will have it for $50 less on Black Friday, and will sweeten the deal with a $100 Dell.com gift card.
This is a fine deal on an excellent medium-sized HDR display, supporting both the HDR-10 standard and Dolby’s proprietary enhancements, but timing is of the essence: Dell plans to start selling it at 4 p.m. Eastern on Black Friday.
DELL: Vizio SmartCast 36-inch sound bar system for $170
If you’re buying a TV on Black Friday, you might want a nice sound system to go with it. Vizio’s mid-range sound bar system includes a wireless subwoofer and two satellite speakers, and it also has Chromecast built in for controlling music from your phone.
The list price is $250, so this is a good time to get it for less.
TARGET: Amazon Fire TV Stick for $25
Although the Fire TV Stick isn’t our favorite streamer, it does integrate well with Amazon’s streaming video services, and plays nicely with Alexa devices such as the Echo speaker. It’s also a favorite among folks who like to sideload Android apps like Kodi.
Amazon’s cheap streaming stick normally sells for $40, but Target will have it for $15 off on Black Friday. (Amazon also plans to offer deal on its website, but hasn’t specified an exact date or time.)
WALMART: Chromecast for $20 (with $5 Vudu credit)
Walmart will have the best deal on Chromecast among all the major retailers on Black Friday. Google’s phone-centric streaming dongle will cost $20 instead of the usual $35, and it’ll also come with a $5 Vudu credit so you can rent an HD movie on the house. (If you can’t get to Walmart, Best Buy will also be selling the Chromecast for $20, sans Vudu credit.)
WALMART: LG 4K Blu-ray player for $99
Do you turn your nose up at the notion of 4K streaming video? Satisfy your inner videophile with 4K Blu-ray. LG’s proper 4K player—not to be confused with cheaper upscaling players—will cost $99 at Walmart on Black Friday, which is half the usual asking price. You can also avoid the crowds and buy it online at Jet.com.