Do yourself a favor; avoid these Black Friday ‘deals’

Adam Schoelz

With the holiday season upon us, many consumers are looking around Columbia for the best deals on the high-tech technologies in order to get past Christmas with their wallets intact. However, much like the products themselves, not all deals are created equal. In particular, Black Friday deals might seem a little less wonderful when examined carefully.
Here are five “hot” deals to avoid this Black Friday.
1. Gamestop, Xbox 360 4GB console, $149.99
While getting an Xbox for less than $200 might seem pretty cool, there are some major problems with this deal. First, it’s the four gigabyte version of the console. This makes the thing almost unusable because Xboxes have a ton of data that needs to be downloaded outside of any game saves, so those four gigabytes will be filled after a few games or one Bethesda game. This also pretty much locks one out of downloading content off of Xbox Live and enjoying some of the fantastic games on there.
Basically, if you buy this version of the console with less memory, you’ll eventually be forced into buying one of Microsoft’s ridiculously priced hard drives, which will bring the price up to around the 250 gigabyte version anyway and anger your gift receiver. There’s a deal at Best Buy which is a 250GB Xbox and two games for $199.99. If you absolutely must save the $50, the same deal as the one at Gamestop is $10 cheaper at Target.
2. Best Buy, Samsung “Intel Pentium Processor” Laptop, $299.99
I’m going to let you in on one of my patented secrets on having a good Black Friday: NEVER BUY A LAPTOP. The reason behind this is that laptops are often some of the hottest items and often they are rip-offs, like in this case.
This is NOT a $300 computer. First, a 320GB hard drive? Incredibly shallow, considering gigabytes cost less than seven cents nowadays. 4GB memory is good for any computer, but not a selling point.  And a Pentium processor? Please. This computer is building off of brand name recognition for Pentiums, but unless the laptop is dual core (the ad doesn’t say), it’s overpriced.
In addition laptops are notorious for hard drive failure. Hard drives are delicate things, and the constant bumps and bruises they get in a laptop build up much faster than in a desktop. Also, laptops run much hotter in general, which is terrible for any computer.
Some laptops fail more than others. Studies of warranties show that Toshiba, Apple and Asus are your best bets for a reliable laptop — though it’s still not a sure thing. Just make sure you aren’t buying a laptop to replace a desktop, because desktops tend to last longer and have better specs.
Really, doing the research and building your own computer is the best way to save money and get a great computer, but that’s incredibly intimidating, so know the facts before you buy a computer in any case.
3. Best Buy, any Apple product, multiple prices
This one is pretty simple. I’m not going to complain about Apple’s ridiculous prices here, though I could, but Best Buy does not have any significant savings on any Apple product. $45 off on iPad 2, $5 dollars off on iPods, and $150 dollars off on MacBook Pros. That last amount might seem like a lot, but considering the $1,200 dollar price tag of that laptop, it’s not knocking much off.
Target has more significant savings on iPods, but really, it might be better to sit Apple out this Black Friday, and avoid the rush for those products. Come back later for the same price in a less busy store.
4. Radio Shack, Logitech M510 Wireless Mouse, $19.99
If you pay more than $10 for a mouse, and it isn’t talking to you, you’ve paid too much. That might be a bit of an overstatement, but I really don’t think there’s that much of a difference between my $6 mouse and this $20 one. Gaming mouses aside, there isn’t much difference.
5. Any store, any HDMI cable, any time of year
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. HDMI cables and other like them are hugely overpriced.  You can buy the same cable as that $120 Monster cable for $5 online. There is no difference. That’s the point of HDMI—the data gets transferred even if you’re running it through a clothes hanger. All that jazz about “more hertz” or “higher speed” is a lie—or it doesn’t matter, because all that stuff is determined by the television, not the cable.
There are only two specifications for HDMI cables according to HDMI Licensing LLC, standard and high speed. All the rest of those “specifications” do not matter. And you can buy a High Speed cable for as little as $4.99 on Amazon.  You don’t need to spend 1-s or 100s of dollars for the exact same thing.
By Adam Schoelz