Thursday, November 24, 2011

Best Black Friday 2011: Deals From Walmart, Target, Best Buy 

By Keith Gilabert,

For the first time, Walmart will be kicking off its in-store specials at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving and plans to scatter its offers. The following deals will kick off the event:
·        Xbox360 4GB with Kinect Console: $199.96 plus a $50 Walmart gift card
·        DVDs starting at $1.96
·        6V or 12V Ride-Ons (e.g., Jeep Wrangler, X Games ATV or Barbie Jeep): $99 each
·        Barbie, Disney Princess or Bratz branded Fashion Dolls: $5 each
·        Paula Deen 20-Piece Cookware Set: $86.44
Starting at midnight:
·        Emerson 32" LCD TV (31.5" diagonal screen size): $188
·        LG Blu-ray Player: $49
·        Kodak C1450 14 MP Camera: $49
·        8GB iPod Touch: $195
·        Samsung 51" Plasma TV (50.7" diagonal screen size): $498
Starting at 8 a.m. Friday:
·        Goodyear Tires starting at $59
·        Vizio 42" 3D LED Wi-Fi HDTV (42.0" diagonal screen size 1080p): $598
·        Buy any smartphone (except Apple iPhone) with a contract and get a $100 Walmart gift card
For the first time, stores will open at midnight Thanksgiving. Deals include:
·        50% off Sharper Image iPhone/iPod docking stations
·        $19.99 Rampage boots
·        Justin Beiber limited-edition holiday fragrance set (includes eau de parfum spray and Bieber's holiday CD)
·        With any $65 fragrance purchase, get a free digital camera
Best Buy
The following deals start at midnight Thanksgiving:
·        Sharp 42" Class LCD 1080p HDTV $199.99
·        Samsung laptop with Intel Pentium Processor 15.6" Display, 4GB memory $299.99
·        Toshiba Wi-Fi Ready Blu-Ray Player $39.99
·        Seasons 1-3 of Mad Men on BluRay - $9 each
·        250GB Xbox 360 console with Fable III and Halo Reach -$200
·        MacBook Pros and iMacs - $60 to $200 off
H&M stores open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Deals include:
·        Dresses and sweaters from $5
·        Pants and kids' jackets from $10
·        Outerwear from $20
Toys R Us
The toy giant plans to open its doors earlier than competitors, at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving.
·        Sylvania 7-inch tablet PC for $79
·        40% off Optimus Prime Transformer for $47.99
·        50% off Leap Pad Leapster systems
·        $50 gift card with iPod Touch purchase
All Black Friday deals start at midnight on Thanksgiving.
·        Philips 9" Dual-Screen DVD Player $99
·        Amazon Kindle 3G $85
·        Acer 10.1 Netbook for $157
·        Various movies and TV shows on DVD for $3.99
·        Element 40" 60HZ 1080p LCD HDTV for $265
·        $40 Target gift card with purchase of 8GB iPod Touch for $195
·        $15 Target gift card with purchase of 8GB iPod Nano for $129
Sam's Club
These prices will be valid for members in stores November 25 starting at 5 a.m.
·        Microsoft Xbox 360 250GB Holiday Bundle for $199
·        Sony PlayStation 3 160GB Entertainment Bundle for $239
·        LG 42" 120Hz 1080p LED-Backlit LCD HDTV for $578
The home improvement giant is advertising its Black Friday offers via its "Black FridayThrowdown" on Facebook.
·        allen + roth Ladder Shelf for $65
·        Skil 10" Miter Saw for $69
·        Kobalt 227-Piece Socket Wrench Set for $99.98
·        Char-Griller Duo Gas and Charcoal Grill for $199

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The best tablet alternatives to the iPad 2

(Los Angeles-Keith Gilabert for Bentley Forbes Analytics)

For those that don’t want to carry a laptop around for simple tasks, yet are looking for a better experience than on their phone, the iPad fills a very unique niche.If for some reason you don’t want to follow apple iPad’s one-size-fits all hardware and operating system, there is no greater time than now to explore tablet alternatives.

The iPad 2 is the most popular computer tablet on the market but consumers with particular interests who don’t want to spend $500 or more on a new device now have compelling alternatives to consider.
Any of these options deserve a place on your holiday shopping list.

Amazon Kindle Fire and B&N NOOK (Price conscious/avid readers)
Amazon’s new Kindle Fire is finally available to purchase. In addition to being a the best  reading device, the tablet has all the basics — apps, web surfing and email. It is priced for entry level users a $199. That price point will definitely put a ceiling on the tablet pricing across the board. With a 7-inch color display, this is a tablet that combines the functionality of an e-reader with great multimedia capabilities for streaming video or listening to music. It runs a customized Android version, uniquely tailored to the Amazon experience with its own app store, free cloud storage, a fast web browser, and of course millions of books and magazines. Expect this to sell strong this holiday shopping season.

Barnes & Noble is getting in on the tablet wars too. The company’s new NOOK Tablet also runs Android and is priced at a competitive $249. That’s a little more than the Kindle Fire, but still half the price of the cheapest iPad 2. The NOOK offers less of an integrated multimedia experience than the Kindle Fire. It is still a very capable e-reader, but offers plenty more including a dedicated app store, HD movies from Hulu and Netflix (with a subscription) and a 7-inch touchscreen.

HP Slate (Business users)
After the quiet introduction of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, business-focused users have few options for tablets that conservative IT compliance managers can embrace. The HP Slate, which is powered by Microsoft’s Windows 7 software, is suitable for professionals who need the flexibility to work away from their traditional desktop or laptop setup. The secure, familiar environment of Windows (and its ubiquitous Office suite) is essential in certain corporate realms, and the Slate allows use of both the touchscreen or a digital stylus. It’s somewhat pricey but worth it, for $799. This is the only tablet that uses a computer operating system.  The iPad2 uses a semi-custom iPhone operating system
If your corporate network does allow for Android devices, a good alternative to the Slate is the Lenovo Thinkpad, which starts at $499. This has a nice stylus for taking notes, and offers the rugged dependability of the IBM/Lenovo brand, as well as easy sharing and optional accessories like a fold-up keyboard.

The Freedom 10 from
This tablet sets the bar high for all.  It comes with an ultra bright 10.2 Inch TFT LCD resistive touch screen – 1024 x 600 WVGA, High resolution display screen – see video up to 1080p resolution, Mini-SD card expandable storage up to 32GB – download movies, music, photos – Not on the Apple iPad 2 , Android 2.2 operating system – Not on the Apple iPad 2, 1 Mini HDMI 1080p port – connect your tablet to your TV to view movies, photos – Not on the Apple iPad2  and half the cost ($249) of the iPad2 and Galaxy.
This tablet has it all.

For the money I would buy the Freedom 10, it is the closest you will get to the iPad without the iPad price tag.

Black Friday 2011: Midnight is the new 5 a.m.

This year, Black Friday Shoppers will head to Walmart at 10 p.m. Thursday, when toys and clothing items go on sale earlier than ever before.

It is just that kind of scaling back that retailers fear. Earlier shopping, they hope, means more spending.
Online retail sales are expected to eclipse $50 billion for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to projections from Keith Gilabert, an economist with Bentley Forbes Analytics.

"Our customers told us they'd rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we're going to hold three special events to let them shop when they want," says Sarah Spencer, a spokesperson for Walmart.

“This year both Best Buy and Target have edged out Walmart by a pretty decent margin,” Gilabert says. “What really drives people’s attention are the doorbuster ads on a store’s top five or six items, generally laptops and televisions.” On that front, Best Buy, and occasionally Target, are consistently beating Walmart.

Walmart boasts a holiday price guarantee: If you find a particular item offered at a better price by a local competitor, the store will give you the difference in the form of a gift card. Keith Gilabert says the deal works retroactively:” If you bought a toaster from Walmart last week, and Target offers a cheaper price on the same toaster in December, you can bring the competitors’ ad to Walmart any day up until Christmas and claim a refund for the difference.”

At 10 p.m. the retail giant will begin its doorbuster sales on toys, home items and clothing. Customers can snatch up the electronics deals — including a 40-inch TV for $248 and an HP laptop for $248 — beginning at midnight. At 8 a.m. more sales will begin in all sections of the store.

Target was one of the first retailers to announce a midnight opening this year. Macy's, Best Buy, and Kohl's also followed suit.

Toys "R" Us will open at 9 p.m. Thursday, an hour earlier than its 10 p.m. Thanksgiving opening in 2010. Customers expressed appreciation for the early opening last year, according to a Toys "R" Us spokesperson, and the extended hours help local employees handle the crowd.

Kmart, Bass Pro Shops and Michaels will open Thursday morning, along with local drugstore chains.
But no one is saying whether this battle to be the first store with open doors will continue to creep into turkey time.

For now, the pre-Black Friday battleground is online.

Traditionally, retailers threatened anyone who publicized a leaked Black Friday advertisement with a lawsuit. And Walmart still sends "cease and desist" letters to operators of websites like

Lowes, Best Buy and Toys "R" Us, among other retailers, released Black Friday advertisements on social media platforms in early November. Lowes used its ad as the central component of an online contest. And, Walmart, the most secretive of retailers, let its ad out of the bag on Nov. 10.

Every big box retailer with a Black Friday sale will offer the deals online sometime on Thanksgiving Day. The sales projected to be the most popular, especially in the electronics category, will likely hit the Internet at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. Thursday and be scooped up in a matter of minutes.

Still, the number of shoppers turning their backs on standing in early morning lines is growing.
And, although the National Retail Federation expects as many as 152 million shoppers to make a purchase during Black Friday weekend, other analysts predict that fewer than ever will actually step foot in a store.