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!

Cyber Monday: Make Sure You Check Out Deals From These Online Retailers

Cyber Monday Kindle Fire Deal
Cyber Monday Deal: Kindle Fire for $129

Cyber Monday means shopping from the comfort of your own home, without any 4AM craziness or the threat of actual physical harm. Those same stores that were offering doorbusters a couple of days ago are still offering great deals, only online.

But what’s really great about Cyber Monday is discounts from online-only retailers pressured into competing on price. They can’t do Black Friday doorbusters, so they really have to make Cyber Monday count. Make sure you check these online-only retailers: we’ve highlighted a couple of great deals from each to give you an idea of what they have to offer.

For more tips, check out my appearance on the Today Show, where I share great deals and great apps to help you shop.

This is a great source for tech deals year-round, but the Cyber Monday deals are even better, especially laptops & monitors. Unlike a lot of retailers offering “cyber deals” all week, these sales really will end at Midnight tonight, so make sure you don’t put it off. Best bets include a 13″ Lenovo IdeaPad for $599 and a 14″ HP EliteBook for $699.

Another big name online tech, NewEgg is a great source for some of the less flashy computer needs, like peripherals, accessories and components for upgrades (like memory). It may be the tech equivalent of buying someone socks, but some people like that! Practical gifts for the tech obsessed can also be an upgrade someone would love, but wouldn’t necessarily buy for him (or her) self. Think $200 off an Acer home theater projector (now $649) or a computer speaker upgrade, like the Creative GigaWorks for $90 (usually they’re like $150).

Cyber Monday Deals from Fab
Flash sale sites like Fab are great resources for gifts

Sure, this probably surprises no one. The thing to know here is that Amazon is running specials all week. With Amazon, always make sure to research a price, since many times Amazon is not actually the least expensive option, especially if you can find free shipping from the manufacturer or another retailer. Plus for today only, the Kindle Fire is $129, instead of $159, with code FIREDEAL. Check out our tablet buying guide if you need help deciding whether the Fire is a good bet.

Steam (PC Games)
Today’s the last day of Steam’s Autumn Sale and there are some great deals for the PC gamers in your family. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is half off at $29.99, indie hit Castle Crashers is $4.99, and you can pick up some older titles at great prices as well, like the latest Sonic game, Generations, as well as Civilization V for $7.49. EA’s Origin digital games store is having a Cyber Monday sale today as well, where you can get Battlefield 3 for half off, and there are some great deals on the Sims franchise amongst other games.

Flash Sale Sites
There are a ton of these to choose from these days, but they can be a great way to find unique and interesting gifts, tech and non-tech! Some good choices include Fab, Gilt, OneKingsLane, and Woot. These sites already offer a discount on merchandise from clothing to home goods, but also have Cyber MOnday specials to compete with other more traditional retailers.

Direct from Retailers
Cyber Monday is the day to go direct to the source for deals: I covered this in article for AT&T, but basically you want to make sure you check a manufacturer’s website no matter what you’re shopping for. A good example is the Dell website, which has laptops up to 30% off the usual price and is announcing new sales every few hours as a way to recreate that “doorbuster” feeling. Accessories are discounted too – the Duracell Powermat wireless charger is 20% off with free shipping using code CyberMonday20. Lots of retailers are offering discount codes, so if there’s a product you’ve had your eye on, do a quick web search to see if you can find any bonus coupons.

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: 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!

BlackBerry Drops PlayBook Price to $299 Across the Board

Regardless of what version you choose (16, 32, or 64GB) you can grab a BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet for only $299 – That’s a total of $400 bucks off the original 64GB price when the device was initially released.

Now if you’ve been “reading the tea leaves” and constantly checking online sites, prices for the 16GB version dropped to as low as $199 during this past holiday season. Which means if you really, REALLY only want the 16GB version, presumably, you will have to shell out 100 bucks more than its lowest price ever listed. On the flipside, if you want to maximize every penny, you can have all the space you need in the 64GB version at a steal.

For the PlayBook to match its tablet colleagues in the productivity category, you still (for now) need a BlackBerry Smartphone tethered (for free) to the PlayBook for a native email, calendar & contacts experience (most services offer a mobile-friendly web version); but, if you’re going to ride with #TeamBlackBerry until the wheels fall off, you have until February 4th to pick up the tablet at $299.

The deal is only offered via BlackBerry online, so check out the BlackBerry Online Store for more details on how to purchase.

[via: All Things D]

Black Friday 1 Cent Smartphones from AT&T

If you’ve been holding off on investing in a smartphone for your business because you can’t justify the expense, AT&T will make it real easy for you to stay productive on the go with its upcoming Black Friday sale where it plans to offer smartphones for as little as $0.01 cent.

You heard me, a PENNY for a SMARTPHONE.

If you don’t mind signing a new 2-year contract, selecting at least a $15 monthly data plan (in addition to a voice plan) and buying exclusively from, you can a sweet deal on select phones. Click past the break for the full details. Read More

RIM Leans on Corporate Customers by Offering A Buy 2 Get 1 PlayBook Free

Looks like RIM is really starting to lean on its steady business/enterprise demographic by offering a pretty sweet deal to make sure they don’t jump ship like a great deal of U.S. consumers. This deal involves the BlackBerry PlayBook, which in my opinion, is a decent device…when tethered to a BlackBerry.

RIM realizes that the corporate world is keeping them afloat and has expanded its BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) to Microsoft Office 365 enterprise users so they can access more than just Outlook on their BlackBerries. Now, RIM is offering corporate a buy two BlackBerry PlayBook tablets, get one free, plus three free premium accessories (one per device).

As long as corporate customers buy the devices from an authorized BlackBerry Reseller, you will get the deal between now and Dec 31st. Click ‘read more’ to head past the break to learn how to qualify. Read More

AT&T Office@Hand: Your Dream Business Phone System

Don’t you hate calling a company with a simple question, only to get stuck in a phone tree and forced to leave a frustrated voicemail for who-knows-who? Don’t let customers who call your business feel the same way!

Upgrade your biz phone presence—and keep all your employees reachable—with AT&T Office@Hand. This slick but simple mobile business phone and fax system works virtually anywhere you do, with your existing phones and lines. And you can manage it, in real time, via PC or smartphone app (on select iPhone®, BlackBerry®, and Android™ models).

Office@Hand includes all the features you want: auto-receptionist, custom greetings, call routing, hold music, dial-by-name, and the list goes on. And how about Internet faxing? You can receive, view, and forward documents you’d otherwise have to be at your desk to see. That’ll help keep your field personnel productive.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out Office@Hand yourself. You can even sign up for a free 30-day trial.

This message brought to you by our sponsor, AT&T. Fine print: Must cancel free trial prior to 30th day. Available via the Web and select devices. Additional restrictions apply. View full terms.