Novermber 18, 2010

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Blu on Black
Annual sale means it's upgrade time
By John Andrews† jandrews@hippopress.com

Only one week Ďtil Black Friday.

Thanksgiving really is the more important holiday ó that is, itís actually a holiday ó but with all the buildup this year, I just canít wait. Itís like retailers finally realized that Black Friday gets people in stores, and a lot of them, especially online, have been declaring ďEarly Black Friday!Ē or ďBlack Friday NOWĒ sales weeks and months in advance.

Besides, this year Iím really planning for the future. Itís time for me to finally get my home theater with the times.

If you havenít jumped on the Blu-ray bandwagon yet, this is the year to do it. Fight through the crowds and you can snag a basic model for $60. Players with 3-D support, a multitude of Internet-connected apps and bundled surround sound systems will set you back only $300 rather than their normal $400 or $500.

No fewer than four stores are pushing the same Sony Blu-ray player for $99. Two warehouse clubs have essentially the same player under a different model number for $95. Thatís well under the original MSRP, but only about $30 less than its current actual price. It gets generally good reviews, so naturally Iím worried.

Why the flood of this one model? Did Sony ramp up production in anticipation of Black Friday? Did they manufacture way too many and need to unload them now? A glance at their website, www.sonystyle.com, reveals that the model in question is their only current standalone Blu-ray player without 3-D support. Are they flushing it out of inventory in preparation for a major 3-D rollout?

The price premium on a 3-D Blu-ray player over plain olí 2-D isnít huge. Stepping up to Sonyís first 3-D model is a mere $30 of non-Black Friday prices. More extras like Wi-Fi and faster boot times on more expensive players are then just gravy. But those arenít the ones getting prices slashed, because theyíre the newest technology.

Then thereís the matter of which television to choose. There are dozens of options just on Black Friday, and they all come with the same questions that have been plaguing HDTV buyers for years. LCD or plasma? Is LED worth the money? Do I buy an expensive 3-D set now or wait until theyíre cheaper and thereís more content available?

Even more maddening are the sales that arenít really sales. Marquee items like iPods and game systems canít be advertised below certain prices. Apple, Microsoft and Nintendo (among other manufacturers) donít want their hit products being discounted and turned into loss leaders just to draw folks into stores, so they make resellers agree to Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP). Thatís why you still wonít see an 8GB iPod Touch for much under $229 the day after Thanksgiving.

What you will see are extras.

The trick most everyoneís using with Apple is to include a gift card when you buy an iPod at the regular price. Toys R Us goes the farthest, with a $50 card to go along with your iPod Touch. Best Buy tacks on a $125 card when you buy a Macbook Pro or iMac. Target will give you a $15 card with an iPod Nano, as well as a $50 card with one Microsoft XBOX 360 and, heck, a $10 card for spending $100 in their store on whatever you like.

Will it be nuts in these stores Black Friday morning? Yes, yes it will.

Will I be carefully plotting my every purchase from now until then? You better believe it.


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11/04/2010 Pretend Phones
10/28/2010 Appy Alloween
10/21/2010 Ads ruin everything
10/14/2010 Waiting for Dogot
10/07/2010 Hybrid TV doesn't know it's own strength
9/30/2010 Eine Kliene Wrist Music
9/23/2010 Netbooks under $100
9/16/2010 Purchase perspective
9/02/2010 Free Music
8/19/2010 Long-lasting tech
8/12/2010 Cloud one
7/22/2010 Where you @?
7/15/2010 Memory game
7/8/2010 Second that motion

7/1/2010 When will tech cost more?
6/24/2010 Social media anxiety
6/17/2010 Hubba hubba
6/10/2010 Store it on USB
6/3/2010 Finance is personal
5/27/2010 Who says what now?
5/20/2010 Flash dance
5/13/2010 Geek chic
5/6/2010 Hewett Palmard
4/29/2010 Logo confusion
4/15/2010 Doubting my geek cred
4/8/2010 3D: Fad or future
4/1/2010 USB: The next generation
3/25/2010 What gadgets do to us
3/18/2010 Better netbooks afoot
3/11/2010 Kind of blue
3/4/2010 We want cheaper e-readers
2/25/2010 Know your vendor
2/18/2010 The Buzz is not good
2/11/2010 Process this
2/4/2010 Is the iPad worth it
1/14/2010 Kneel before Google
1/7/2010 Las Vegas shows the way12/31/2009 Reluctantly looking back
7/16/2009 What runs your phones
7/2/2009 Down with paint
5/21/2009 Laptop control
5/7/2009 Go organic
4/24/2009 Boot quickly with Linux
4/2/2009 Save cash with the Web
3/19/2009 Control from a distance
3/5/2009 Lucky number 7?
2/19/2009 Pop go the ads
2/12/2009 No DTV for you
2/5/2009 It's the internet ... on TV
1/1/2009 The road ahead
12/25/2008 Portability rising
12/18/2008 Video conversion gift guide12/11/2008 Audio conversion gift guide
12/04/2008 2008 photo gift guide
11/27/2008 Core to the core
11/20/2008 Frogs, Jackie Chan and Linux11/13/2008 How to tame the internet
11/06/2008 The mighty pen
10/30/2008 Eyeballs, meet video
10/23/2008 Be Buffy
10/16/2008 Trade in your stuff
10/9/2008 TV on the Web
10/2/2008 Netbook update
9/25/2008 Unified Gadget Theory

9/18/2008 The little MerChrome
9/11/2008 When in Chrome
9/4/2008 Busting a cap
8/28/2008 Web of politics
8/21/2008 One computer or two?
8/7/2008 Turning back time
7/31/2008 Cell phone projector
7/24/2008 Come on, feel the geek
7/17/2008 Adventures in China
7/10/2008 More memory
7/03/2008 Bringing China home
6/19/2008 Software fight
6/12/2008 Free energy
6/5/2008 Playing geotag
5/29/2008 Read on your screen
5/22/2008 Recession-proof?
5/15/2008 As in beer, and speech
5/8/2008 Whither XP
5/1/2008 Stuck on Craigslist
4/24/2008 Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
4/17/2008 See the Silverlight
4/10/2008 WiMax vs. LTE
4/3/2008 GPS in reverse
3/27/2008 Your video choices
3/20/2008 MP3 ain't all that
3/13/2008 That's hot
3/6/2008 Why not to go Blu
2/28/2008 Digital TV is coming
2/21/2008 An elgy for CompUSA
2/14/2008 My nerdy Valentine
2/7/2008 Yahoo! It's Microsoft!
1/31/2008 Roll on up
1/24/2008 Media calls DVD war for Sony
1/17/2008 Delete everything
1/10/2008 The cable conundrum
1/3/2008 When technology attacks
12/27/2007 A look back
12/13/2007 Inside your digital camera
12/6/2007 Phone frenzy, part 2
11/29/2007 Phone frenzy, part 1
11/22/2007 Giving thanks
11/15/2007 Gray areas
11/8/2007 Fantastic music
11/1/2007 Tiny browsing
10/25/2007 What's a Webkinz?
10/18/2007 Famous on and off the Web
10/11/2007 Print in the third dimension
10/04/2007 Do it yourself ó really
9/27/2007 An update on updates
9/20/2007 The more things change...
9/6/2007 Ink wars
8/30/2007 Woody gadgets
8/23/2007 Pocket mice
8/16/2007 A clearer picture?
8/9/2007 One less box on your TV
8/2/2007 Prescription for subscription
7/26/2007 Record every show
7/19/2007 Main screen turn on
7/12/2007 Lasers in everyday life
7/5/2007 Radio by wire
6/28/2007 Don't believe the hours
6/21/2007 Get where you're going
6/14/2007 Enlighten yourself
6/7/2007 USB is hot
5/31/2007 USB is cool
5/24/2007 Gadgets for nothing
5/17/2007 Make your gadgets better
5/10/2007 You may now unplug
5/3/2007 Mobile is nothing
4/26/2007 Expand your wireless network
4/19/2007 Expand your wireless network
4/12/2007 Get a newer brain
4/5/2007 Get a newer brain
3/29/2007 Security can be free
3/22/2007 Paper that's not paper
3/8/2007 Use any file
3/1/2007 Audiobooks for free
2/22/2007 What's for sale today?
2/15/2007 Prints in your pocket
2/8/2007 Watch this
2/1/2007 How open is your source
1/25/2007 iPhone it now
1/18/2007 Simplify, simplify
1/11/2007 Vista time!
1/4/2007 Google killers?
12/28/2006 Tech that didn't happen
12/21/2006 Do not want
12/14/2006 Meet the new web
12/07/2006 Extreme price shopping
11/30/2006 They want what?
11/23/2006 Zat†zany Zune
11/16/2006 Shop smart
11/9/2006 Your data's new home
11/2/2006 Hotkey heaven
10/26/2006 Computer to go
10/19/2006 Tech news roundup
10/12/2006 A different drummer
10/05/2006 Who needs TiVo?
09/28/2006 Disk drives without disks
09/21/2006 Movies, just click your mouse!
09/14/2006 Laptops for less
09/07/2006 GPS everywhere
08/31/2006 The printer dilemma
08/24/2006 A series of tubes
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08/03/2006 It's a WiFi world
07/27/2006 Fancy a spot of memory?
07/20/2006 Under the sea
07/06/2006 eBaysic training
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06/15/2006 C:\Run for the border
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05/18/2006 Super highway information
05/11/2006 How to host a site
05/04/2006 If they mated
04/27/2006 Apples to apples
04/20/2006 Flash uber-drives
04/13/2006 Web site, by you
04/06/2006 Ayyy, jaQ's right!
03/30/2006 Choose wirelessly
03/23/2006 Tax programs cometh
03/16/2006 And the Spammie goes to...
03/09/2006 Take in the Vista
03/02/2006 Cheap moviemaking
02/23/2006 Go directly to iJail

02/16/2006 Will you stamp your e-mail?
02/09/2006 War of the machines
02/02/2006 Faster than a speeding packet

01/26/2006†Free software made simple
01/19/2006 The Worst of CES
01/12/2006 Radio you
01/05/2006 Making Movies
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