Making sure you get the best Black Friday deal

It's that time of the year again, the gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday and the plotting for a successful Black Friday shopping extravaganza. By leveraging the technology at our finger tips, savvy shoppers can gain the upper hand.

Everyone grabs the newspaper flyer and now quite a few visit the retailer's Web site for information. Another method is a simple visit to the retailer asking what the deals will be. An all-in-one resource is the Black Friday Web site, which claims to be "...the official site for all of the 2009 Black Friday ads..." Find the site at www.blackfriday.info.

The best electronics deals this year are reported to be on netbooks, low-end laptops, televisions and peripherals like Blu-ray and other players. There's no doubt some great deals can be found but, given the nature of crash and dash Black Friday, the browsing time is zilch so preparation is key.

Once the deals are found, take the time to investigate a few days ahead of time to determine if the item is good enough quality to meet the need. This is especially important if a gigantic TV is on the wish list. Understand the hookup in the store and consider if the hookup at home is similar. Know the clarity on the set is driven by the input, so ask the associate to explain how the set in the store is connected and ask to view other content. If the sets are playing Blu-ray at 1080p resolution, ask to see 720p high-definition or standard content.

While Black Friday offers some good deals, history demonstrates retailers generally put out the lower-cost items that day. Brick and mortar shoppers wanting more feature-rich products may do better in the final two shopping weeks or switching to an on-line retailer.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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