Black Friday Deals for Small Business: Don’t Wait Till After Thanksgiving

The holiday season is almost here! But what you may not realize is that with Thanksgiving falling so late in November this year, the holiday shopping season has already started, and that’s why you don’t want to wait to take advantage of Black Friday deals that can be helpful for small business.

Generally retailers use the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to really push deals hard. In the past years we’ve seen more and more focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But this year retailers have about one week less between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make their sales, so they’re starting early. There’s a reason it seems like Halloween just happened but Christmas decorations are already up in stores – I’m calling it Thanksmas!

blak friday deals starting early on amazon

Take Amazon for example. They’ve created a new “deals” promotion they’re calling “Countdown to Black Friday.”, one of my favorite online retailers, just held a “Color Week” sale (it’s the opposite of Black Friday, get it?). Many other retailers aren’t calling attention to the Black Friday part, but have already started offering special pricing deals. So if you’ve been waiting till after Thanksgiving to start shopping for tech deals for your small business, don’t wait — start looking now to see if there are deals on tech you’ve been meaning to invest in.

But remember: don’t buy tech just because you see a good price. Make sure it’s something you really need and more importantly have budgeted for! And if you’re not sure whether you need to upgrade now, ask yourself how long you think your current device will last, and whether the holiday “deal” price is worth pulling the trigger a little early: you may find that having the cash now is worth putting up with your device a little longer.

Have questions about buying tech during the holiday season? RSVP for my Holiday Help Desk – I’ll be answering your questions LIVE on December 4th. You can also submit your questions now in case you can’t make the live event: afterwards it will be available to watch whenever you have time!

3 Ways Small Businesses Can Take Advantage of Great Tech Deals This Holiday Season

Black Friday circular from StaplesWith all the talk of gift-buying, we forget that the holiday season is also a great time to take stock on tech for your business. Getting the right tech as an entrepreneur or small business is tough. Since you can’t take advantage of the bulk discounts that larger companies get, you have to be a little more creative when it comes to getting the right tech for your business. Thankfully, the holiday shopping season is a perfect time to score some great tech at a discount if you know how to find it.

Keep reading this post at AT&T Networking Exchange –>

Black Friday Deal Guide: Laptops & Ultrabooks

Instead of all the deals, we’re only sharing our favorite laptop and ultrabook deals for Black Friday. If you’re considering a laptop we aren’t covering here, double-check the processor, and make sure it’s an Ivy Bridge, not Sandy Bridge. Older models with the Sandy Bridge processor may be less expensive – but the downgrade isn’t worth it! If you’re not sure, just ask.

Our goal here is make a recommendation based on your needs, not just specs, even though one machine may be a great fit for all kinds of uses. So we’ll give you our recommendations, with highlights, prices, and the store where you can find a deal. The goal is to match your needs with the machine you buy, so that it will be powerful enough for how you use it, but you’re not paying for features you don’t need.

If you’re not 100% sure which computer may be right for you, or if you’ve got questions about a deal you’ve seen that we haven’t listed here, let us know in the comments. And of course, we’ll be hosting our holiday help desk where you can ask questions, or you can hit us up on twitter @marioarmstrong!


Best Budget Laptop:

Black Friday Deal HP Sleekbook Laptop
HP Sleekbook from Sam’s Club for $399

14″ HP Pavilion Sleekbook at Sam’s Club for $399
This is a budget model that still packs a good amount of processing power: 6 GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive with HD LED display, Intel® Core™ i5 processor and with Windows 8 OS. This would be a good choice for a student or family looking to add another computer to their living room or family room setup, since the i5 is powerful enough for gaming and more. Be careful: don’t get the i3 model: you can get more power for your money.

Toshiba Laptop Black Friday Deal at Staples
15.6″ Toshiba: $579.99 from Staples

Best Gaming Laptop:
15″ Toshiba at Staples for $579.99
If you’re looking for a 15″ screen, this is a good bet for Black Friday. It features the best processor (the i7) that we’re featuring here, and can handle graphics and gaming no problem. But at 5.5 pounds, this is the least portable computer we’re featuring, and isn’t the lightest choice for constant carrying. But for a big, powerful laptop, this is a great deal.

Black Friday Deal Acer Ultrabook at Walmart
Acer Ultrabook: $499 from Walmart

Best Budget Ultrabook Deal:
13.3″ Acer Ultrabook at WalMart for $499
It is budget. It’s actually from last year, which is why there’s such a huge discount. But if you’re mostly into portability and primarily use your computer for email, surfing the web, streaming video and editing basic documents, it should be totally fine. If you’re in the market for an ultrabook, you’re not going to find one for cheaper. It’s only an i3 processor, but it does have 320GB  HDD + 20gb SSD. 


Black Friday Laptop deal: Acer Aspire from Best Buy
Acer Aspire v5: $529 at Best Buy

Best Touchscreen Deal: 15″ Acer Aspire V5 at Best Buy for $529
This touchscreen device features a 15″ screen and midrange specs, including an i3 processor. What really sets this model apart is the touchscreen, since quality touchscreen models are usually closer to the $800 – $900 range. It comes pre-loaded with Windows 8, and has a decent, if not spectacular, battery. This laptop would make a great home computer for kids, especially younger ones who can’t get enough of the touchscreen.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display
MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Money is No Object, Top of the Line: 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display for $1,699
This isn’t a deal, we admit. Apple doesn’t do Black Friday discounts like a lot of other manufacturers, but it still seems wrong to leave them off the list completely somehow. Of all Apple’s laptops right now, we’re the most excited about the Pro with Retina display. It’s thinner, it’s lighter, it’s incredibly powerful and it’s got a beautiful display and form factor. That also why it costs about twice as much as anything else we’re talking about here. But if money were no object (ha!), this would be the one to get.

Black Friday Shopping Guide: High-End Smartphones

Black Friday isn’t usually about phones: generally there’s a contract price on a network that doesn’t change during the shopping extravaganza. But a smartphone can still make a great gift. With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick comparison of the top of the line smartphones: you may be surprised how similar they seem.

And that’s somewhat true, except size does matter. Just a quarter of an inch in length makes a huge difference in terms of how a phone feels. Generally, those gigantic phones may not be the best for someone who’s always out and about, or who is mostly interested in the “phone” part of smartphone. Also consider whether the phone will play nicely with the recipient’s other devices: a Windows 8 phone will work well with a new Windows 8 laptop or ultrabook.

Mostly though, consider whether a phone is the right gift, since it involves a continued outlay of cash to stay on a cellular and data plan. If you know that a person needs an upgrade, or is on your plan, or can handle the commitment, a phone can be a great gift!

Check out the chart below, and let us know if you have any question in the comments. All of the phones are shown with a contract price (we used AT&T because they’re our partner), except the Google Nexus. The Google Nexus is sold unlocked through the Google Play store, not on contract at AT&T. 

Black Friday Smartphone Shopping Guide Comparison Chart

The best deals this week at Staples

Whether you’re shopping online (and taking advantage of their free shipping online throughout the holiday season) or in-store (to touch and test everything before you buy), you’ll want to make sure Staples is one of the stores you’re including in your shopping plans as Black Friday approaches.

Staples is making it easy for customers to save on technology the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday by making it a week-long event! They are even doing mobile flash sales this year!

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the best deals coming up at Staples.

Pre-Black Friday

Windows 8 Pro – $69.99

Until November 21st, Staples is offering a discount from $199 down to $69 on Windows 8 Pro. If you’re looking to upgrade your operating system this holiday season to the latest from Microsoft, why pay full price?

Windows 8 Pro is similar to Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate. It’s targeted towards tech enthusiasts as well a business customers. Win 8 Pro includes all of the advanced Windows features: remote desktop connections, an encrypted file system, the ability to participate in a Windows Server domain (crucial for some businesses) and more.

Black Friday

HP Pavillion Sleekbook 14” – $299

At $230 off, the HP Sleekbook is a great deal on a bargain laptop. While far from top-of- the-line, the Sleekbook is a bare-bones Windows 8 laptop and includes just enough hardware to get by for basic office and web-based tasks. With only a 1.5Ghz Pentium, 4GB of RAM, and a 320 GB HD, you’re not going to be recording music or editing videos on this, but if you have basic needs you’ll love this for the price. Just keep in mind that it only gets a little over 4 hours of battery life. If you need all-day power, look at some of the other laptop options at Staples.

Toshiba Canvio 1TB Portable USB 3.0 External Hard Drive – $69

I can’t stress the importance of backup enough. You should have multiple copies of your data in case of emergency. For under seventy bucks, the Toshiba Canvio external is a great & super portable external drive. It runs entirely off USB, so there’s no power cable to lug around, and with a terabyte of space should be more than enough to back up your computer. Take my advice and pick up two—keep one backup at home and the other in a secure, off-site location like your office or a safe deposit box. That way, should tragedy strike at home, you’ll still have another copy of your data.

Kindle Fire HD – $199 w/ $20 Gift Card

Manufacturers don’t make money on tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle line. Instead, they make their money on the books, movies and games you buy. For the consumer, that means you’re not going to see any kinds of discounts on theses tablets this holiday season. You can take advantage of deals like this one, where you claim a rebate online and get a $20 gift card back. If you’re looking at gifting a Kindle this holiday season, this is the best deal you’re going to see. The regular Fire at $159 and the 32GB model for $249 are also eligible for this offer.

Cyber Monday

Brother MFC-J430w Inkjet All-in-One – $49.99

The Brother name means quality, and the bargain price at $50 off on for Cyber Monday means a great deal. This printer is a 4-in-1 inkjet that scans, faxes, copies, and prints at 10 pages per minute in B&W, 5 color, and has built-in WiFi for wireless printing. With the Brother iPrint&Scan app for Apple and Android devices, you can even print JPEG images and PDF documents wirelessly straight from your smartphone or tablet computer. How cool is that?

Mobile Flash Sales

And don’t forget! They also have mobile flash sales you can take part in by visiting from your smartphone. They’ll be hooking you up with hourly coupons you can use online only starting 11 p.m Thursday and running until 5 a.m. on Black Friday. You can also use coupons you find on in-store from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m on Friday.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Hey readers, this is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Black Friday Deal Guide: Home Theater

Toshiba Black Friday Home Theater TV Deal
The 40″ Toshiba

For some reason, it seems like half the Black Friday deals we’ve seen out there are for TVs. Maybe because compared to laptops or smartphones, it’s hard for TV manufacturers to compete on features, and instead they compete on price. That means many stores will have a good deal on a TV this Black Friday, so if a different deal is what you’re really after, make that store your priority and plan to try to pick up a TV at that location.

Of course, there’s more to a home theater than just TVs, especially in the age of TV-via-the-Internet, so we’re bringing you some of our favorites for the entire experience too. If you have any questions about any home theater gadgets, feel free to ask away in the comments!

TVs (from Smallest to Largest):

32” Apex HDTV: $147 from Target

This LCD TV normally retails for closer to $250. It’s not a smart (aka web-enabled) unit, and it’s not the fanciest TV, with a 720p display and 60HZ refresh rate, but it can take HDMI and S Video input and is a solid deal at under $150.

40″ Toshiba HDTV: $179.99 from Best Buy
 This is a budget model, and there’s a reason this is one of the leading deals from Best Buy: normally these TVs retail at over $400. It’s also an LCD HDTV, with 1080p resolution, and HDMI inputs. Again, this isn’t a top of the line unit, with a refresh rate of only 60HZ, but it is affordable budget TV.

40″ Samsung Smart HDTV: $449.99 from
This is also a 40″ model, but a high-end one, with superior frame refresh and clarity on top of the 1080p display. Plus the TV is WiFi-enabled for streaming content. Suggested retail on this TV is $799, for a $300 savings.

50″ Sony Smart HDTV: $899 from Sony Retail Stores
Here, it’s all about the smart TV plus size.  This web-enabled lets you stream movies, photos, music and videos straight to your TV from the internet, in 1080p HD. Normally retails for $1299.

65” VIZIO LED Smart HDTV: $998 from Sam’s Club
This is an 65″ LED TV for under $1,000, which is impressive, as is the refresh rate of 120HZ. This TV is also web-enabled for access to all your streaming media, and features all the top-of-the-line features you’d expect. Normally retails for around $1400.

Other Key Home Theater Components:
Blu-ray Players:

Take  your pick, there’s an LG for $38 at Sam’s Club or a Toshiba for $39 at Best Buy. The Toshiba is “web ready,” meaning that if you want to spend an additional $30 – $50.

Black Friday Roku HD Home Theater DealRoku Box: $59.99
The Roku is a great alternative to a web-enabled TV or Blu-ray. Roku allows you to stream content, like Netflix, HuluPlus, Amazon, games, and live sports. We recommend the Roku 2 XD, which lets you stream in 1080p HD. Normally $79.99, it will be available at for $59.99

Home Audio:
Harman Kardon 500W 5.1 Home Theater Receiver: $250 at Best Buy
This stereo receiver is $250 off its normal retail price of $500. It features 5 channels with 100 watts per channel, plus six HDMI inputs, Dolby TrueHD, and more.


Black Friday: Our Tips & Guides

Follow @marioarmstrong on Twitter for updates about our Black Friday product guides!

These days, Black Friday starts on Thursday (aka Thanksgiving). Plenty of retailers have been pushing their wares since last week. It’s a lot to sort through, and there’s no shortage of competing gadgets and devices.

Our goal then is help you zero in on just the best deals, not all the deals. We’ll be highlighting a few key deals from different retailers in all price points, featuring only the deals we think are best either because of the product or quality. Different categories we’ll be talking about are home theater, laptops and ultrabooks, gaming, tablets, and more.

Black Friday circular from StaplesBlack Friday Tips:
– The best deals are usually on the big-ticket items (think over $500). If you’re thinking about buying a big-ticket item, Black Friday is a good time.
– The goal of major retailers is to keep you in the store! They want you to do more of your shopping in their store to increase market share. Be aware, and don’t get distracted or overwhelmed. Plan ahead and know the store layout!
– Bring someone with you to split up and conquer tasks!
– Popular items, especially Black Friday Doorbusters, will sell out, and aren’t available via raincheck. If there’s a deal you have to have, make sure you get it early!
– Check online: some deals can be had online without the in-person hassle. But many deals are only in stores or only online, so make sure you double check!
– Wear comfy shoes, bring snacks, water and stay patient, don’t let it get to you too much! There’s always CyberMonday!

What’s your Black Friday strategy? Do you skip it altogether, or are you out the door while the Thanksgiving dishes are still drying? Share any tips you may have with us in the comments!