Here are my personalized picks for the holiday shopping season. If you want to see all of the items that Amazon is putting on sale early, click here.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are quickly approaching, and the deals will be a plenty!
Tech is always one of the biggest categories for deals and this year will be no different. The big trend we’re seeing in 2018 compared to years past: you don’t necessarily have to go in store to get the best deals.
“About 110 million U.S. adults plan to shop for tech over Thanksgiving Week, including Black Friday,” said Ben Arnold, senior director of innovation and trends, CTA. “During the biggest shopping week of the year, people will shop for tech more than any other category besides clothing and accessories. Further, almost a third of those planning to shop during the holiday season say they wait all year for Thanksgiving Week to buy big-ticket tech items like smartphones and TVs.”
Here are the top items that tech buyers will be looking for, along with some current deals and my recommendations in each category.
Smartphone and TV (tied ranking)
The iPhone will be one of the hottest smartphone purchases this holiday season. You’ll find big discounts on the older models, but there are still deals even on the newest releases.
Walmart is offering a $400 gift card with the purchase of the iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus but you have to activate a new line. This deal is in-store only and starts Thanksgiving Day at 6 p.m. and runs through Nov. 23.
Walmart is offering a $300 gift card on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR in a similar deal.
Target is offering a $250 gift card with the purchase of the iPhone XS or XS Max. You have to activate a line in the store.
Best Buy will slash $150 off the price of the iPhone XS, XS Max or iPhone XR. The deal starts on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m. and you have to activate a line on certain carriers.
Another smartphone I recommend is the Google Pixel 3. I love the combination of an amazing camera and the best Android software.
Best Buy is taking $200 off the price of a Pixel 3 when you activate Verizon service in store. The deal starts Thanksgiving day at 5 PM and runs through November 24.
If you want an alternative to these top two devices, I’d recommend taking a serious look at the OnePlus 6T. It is an amazing value at $550, but T-Mobile is giving it to you free with this special offer. They are also only carrier that sells it in store. You get a ton of features, camera and storage for your money and it’s a solid Android device.
For some reason, Black Friday has become synonymous with a new TV. There will be lots of deals! My favorites are TCL and Amazon’s Fire TVs right now. They have a great combination of value and features. Amazon will have a fantastic deal on this highly rated 50 inch Toshiba Fire TV Edition. Normally $400, it will be just $300 on November 22.
Portable Bluetooth Speaker
I love the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Portable Bluetooth Speaker. It comes in a bunch of fun colors, floats in water and sounds amazing for its small size. It’s usually $99 but you’ll find it as low as $50 over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping holiday.
Video Game Console and Laptop (tied ranking)
Slickdeals has found an amazing deal on the 1 TB Microsoft Xbox One S at an unlikely retailer: Kohl’s. You can nab the Minecraft Creators Bundle with 1,000 Minecoins for $199.99. Kohl’s will also toss in $60 Kohl’s Cash.
The other console to get, once again, is the Nintendo Switch. This is still the most popular gadget in my house. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Mario Party! It’s a ton of fun for up to 4 players, so grab the bundle with the extra controllers in the box so everyone can play. It hits stores November 16.
Digital Media Streaming Device
I’m going to call it: The Google Home Hub will be the hottest gadget to give this season. I absolutely love this thing. It gives great visual answers to all of your pressing Google questions, lets you follow step-by-step recipes on screen, view your Nest security cameras, control all of your smart home devices and more. Unlike other devices from Facebook and Amazon, there is no camera on the Hub, so your privacy concerns are just limited to Google listening to you (when you say the activation phrase), and not watching you.
The best part is how it acts as a digital picture frame when you’re not using it. This alone is worth getting it for.
Usually, the Google Home Hub is $150 but everyone will be selling it for $99 or cheaper this holiday season. I don’t recommend paying more than $100 for it during the sales.
The two smartwatches to get are the Apple Watch and the Fitbit Versa.
You might be hard pressed to find a deal on Apple’s latest Series 4 watch, but the Series 3 is nearly as good. Many retailers including Macy’s, Target and Best Buy are offering it at $80 off.
The Fitbit Versa is an excellent choice if you’re on Android. It is normally $200 but Kohl’s and others are selling it for $50 off.
Mobile Device Case
My favorite case is the Speck Presidio Grip. I love how it’s not too big but it also adds an amazing grippy exterior to your phone. It will protect your phone from drops without turning it into a tank. These cases have been up to 50% off in past years so watch for deals on them.
I have one recommendation for wireless headphones, and it’s for the kids. The Puro Sound BT2200 are excellent headphones that have sound limiting technology built in. That means that kids’ sensitive little ears won’t be subjected to super loud volumes from their iPads or other devices they watch their shows on. They’re also highly durable, the battery lasts a long time and come in a bunch of fun colors.
At $100, they’re not cheap, so be on the lookout for coupon codes or Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that will bring the price down a bit. Currently, there are three codes that will bring the price down at least $20. Search for more using a shopping assistant like my favorite called Wikibuy.
I have two wireless earbuds to recommend. Apple’s AirPods are my overall favorite. They normally sell for $160 but the price has been known to drop a bit. Sam’s Club is selling them for $130, which is $30 off. So aim for a similar deal if you don’t have a Sam’s Club near you.
The other wireless earbuds I’ve been testing out are the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100. They aren’t as sleek as the AirPods, but they work well and do a phenomenal job of staying in your ears. These are perfect for the gym, but also work nicely around town as well. They are also sweatproof, something you can’t say about Apple’s wireless earbuds. They work great with both Android and iOS.
Portable Battery Charger
Portable battery chargers have gone through a wireless evolution lately. I’ve been testing Mophie’s Charge Stream Powerstation Wireless. This is a standard backup battery, but it also has wireless charging built in. This means you can rest your phone on the top and it will charge. It works with all of the latest iPhones, Samsungs and new Google Pixel models. I also find that wireless charging isn’t as foolproof or as fast as plugging your phone in to charge. You can do that with the charge stream, but you’re paying a premium for the wireless functionality.
Alternatively, pick up a power pack from Anker. They make some of the most popular packs at a great value. The Anker PowerCore Lite 10000mAh will charge your phone up to 3 times.
Before you hit that buy button, do your research! Type the name of the product your want to buy into Slickdeals to see if anyone has unearthed a better deal, use CamelCamelCamel to check historical Amazon prices and use a shopping assistant like Wikibuy (my favorite), Invisible Hand or Honey. Finally, check resource sites like BlackFriday.com for scans of the latest deals.