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How to Avoid a Black
Friday Gadget Mistake

If that Black Friday deal for a $198 HDTV looks too good to be true, there is a chance it is too good to be true. Black Friday deals can provide great opportunities for consumers to save a lot of money but it can also be an easy way for manufacturers and resellers to clear out old products from the warehouse. How do you tell the real deals from the duds? We’ve put together a list of some things you should consider when evaluating a deal on gadgets or gear.
Watch Out For These Over-the-Hill Features
HDTV Sets

CCFL Backlights
HDTV sets get cheaper and better every year. One of the reasons LCD sets have gotten thinner is the LED backlighting they use instead of the old CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlight. CCFLs do an adequate job but use more energy and may not be as bright as LED backlights.

Lower Resolutions
Full high definition resolution is 1080 lines (1080p) of video. Many older TVs can only display 720 lines (720p) or 1080 lines interlaced (1080i).

  Can you live with it?
If the HDTV set is smaller than 37-inches and you don't have a game console or a Blu-ray or DVD player you might be able to get away with 720p/1080i. The fact is almost all programming comes in over the air or from satellite or cable at 720p or 1080i so even if you have a 1080p set it can't really do much more with it other than to scale it up to 1080p. Many DVD players will up-convert video to 1080p and Blu-ray is natively 1080p as well as game consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
 
Slower Refresh Rates
New HDTV sets can show as many as 120 or 240 frames per second (Hz) compared to older sets that can only refresh the screen at 60 Hz. Faster refresh rates mean less susceptibility to blurring on fast action (i.e. sports) programming.

Too Few HDMI Ports
HDMI ports offer the highest quality connection from your cable or satellite box, game console, DVD player or receiver to your HDTV set. Not only do older sets only included one or two HDMI ports but they are typically one version behind the current HDMI version of 1.4a.

  Can you live with it?
If this is going to be your second HDTV for the bedroom or kitchen and all you’re going to hook up to it is one device like a DVD player or game console than one HDMI port should do just fine. The latest HDMI standard is 1.4a which provides a high enough data rate for Full HD 3D. The fact is the latest version of HDMI 1.3 can handle most 3D that comes from satellite and cable providers.
 
Laptop
Older Processors
Celeron processors are starting to show their age. Try for the newer Intel multi-core, "Core" series including Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7. On the AMD side look for dual-core processors like the Phenom II or Turion II.

Limited Memory
Even though memory upgrades are cheap and easy to do yourself, it's better if the laptop you are considering has 2GB or more.

  Can you live with it?
Upgrading laptop memory is one of the easier do-it-yourself projects and adding more memory to any laptop can boost performance and allow you to multitask easier. On the other hand, make sure the laptop you are considering can be upgraded before you buy it.
 
Windows Other Than Windows 7
Just about every laptop shipping comes with some version of Windows 7 so if you see a laptop with Windows Vista or XP you can be pretty sure its an oldie. The only Windows 7 version you might want to avoid is Windows 7 Starter Edition which comes on some notebooks and has some serious limitations.
Bluray Players
Many newer Blu-ray players come with networking capability allowing you to connect your TV to the Internet through your home network. One feature required to do this is Profile 2.0. There may still be older players on the market using Profile 1.1 and older versions. We recommend you avoid these players.
Point and Shoot Cameras
Even the least expensive point and shoot cameras come with more than 10 MP, a 3X optical zoom and image stabilization. What some of the cameras offered as deals might be missing is the ability to shoot HD (720p) video, face or smile detection or burst mode.

Features That Could Make a Product a Great Deal
We don't expect to see many state-of-the-art devices as doorbusters this Black Friday but if you do run across one of these features in a great deal, we say grab it!
Connectivity
Connectivity is a great feature to have in an HDTV or Blu-ray player. It allows you to connect to the Internet through your home network to do things like watch streaming movies from Netflix or YouTube videos or listen to your own "stations" on Pandora. You'll probably only find "wired" connectivity with Black Friday deals but if you can get wireless connectivity all the better.

3D Capability
While the world waits for more 3D programming and prices to come down, the standards are in place to support 3D content so a 3D capable TV you buy TV should still work in the future. You may not want to watch 3DTV all day long but it should be fun to watch the occasional 3D movie, sports event or rock concert. The same goes for Blu-ray players, you can future-proof a Blu-ray player purchase if the Blu-ray player supports 3D which means it will also have an HDM 1.4 port.

Known Brands and Longer Warranty
You may come across some great deals from manufacturers you've never heard of before. Taking a chance on one of these could be a safer bet if you buy it from a reputable reseller with a warranty that's good for at least one year (two is even better).

Use Retrevo To Check a Product's Timeline
Don't take our word for it; listen to this advice from our friends at notebooks.com who say…"Finally, before you buy that Black Friday Laptop make sure you check to see that it’s not too old. Retrevo offers a product timeline that will help you figure out if it is near the end of its life in a second." Retrevo timelines are not only available for laptops but for all popular devices including HDTV, GPS, cameras, and more.


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Great info

Great Job, especially about the info regarding the HDTV's (60HZ TV and 720p are slowing becoming obsolete)....

Interesting review of 2010 products

Thanks Andrew for this guide . Knowing what things to look for and look foward to
helps when shopping for new technology.