By Hayley Tsukayama
The Washington Post
The height of the holiday shopping season is upon us, as fervor over the deals coming on Black Friday and Black Thursday (a.k.a. Thanksgiving) grows. Which means it's time to take a look at some of the best tech deals on offer from retailers this week.
While there are plenty of tech-lovers who are probably be happy to stick strictly to online shopping from now through Cyber Monday, there are a few bargains that may lure them out to fight crowds in stores.
If smartphones are your most-coveted item, you may want to check out the myriad deals for the Samsung Galaxy S4. Staples is offering the smartphone for one cent, both in stores and online, during the whole shopping weekend - with a 2-year contract. Not to be outdone, Best Buy is offering the phone for free with a 2-year activation, on all major carriers.
On the tablet front, Best Buy and Microsoft itself are offering the original Microsoft Surface RT for $199.99. Microsoft's offer will be available in its retail stores and online.
Probably the most buzzed-about deal is from Target, which is pricing Apple's new iPad Air at $479. That's $20 off the retail price, but Black Friday shoppers also get a $100 gift card to sweeten the deal. Target is also offering the iPad mini (that's last year's model, folks) for its full retail price of $299, but is throwing in a $75 gift card.
Other Apple deals from Target include a $10 price cut on the Apple TV, a $60 iTunes gift card for $50, and slight discounts on the iPhone 5s and fifth-generation iPod Touch, with their own gift card bundles.
Walmart is also getting into the Apple discounting spirit, offering a $100 gift card with the $299 iPad mini - but only for an hour, starting at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
Apple itself has confirmed that it will be offering a one-day sale on Friday in stores, online and through apps, though the company did not disclose its specials. In the past, the company has offered modest cuts - normally $30 to $100 - on its laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Televisions are, of course, a top Black Friday item, and there are a few good bargains that shoppers should flag if they're in the market for one. Target's 50-inch Element TV for $229 is a strong deal for an HD TV of that size. Similarly, the 70-inch Vizio from Walmart for $688 is also worth a shot, even if it's also a one-hour deal.
Perhaps the biggest deal in televisions comes from Sears, which if offering a 55-inch 4K Seiki television for $849.99. It's rare to see 4K televisions of that size go for under $1,000; the content for 4K televisions isn't quite up to par yet to buy at full price, but you'd look pretty smart owning one if more content picks up.
Shoppers are most likely to find discounts on big-ticket items in stores, but online shoppers should also keep an eye on Amazon, which continues to blast out daily deals throughout the week. The company has said that the deals are updated as often as every 10 minutes and seem to cover everything from smartphones to toilet paper. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post.)
The deepest tech discounts are showing up on things such as memory cards, portable hard drives and other components. But buyers can find markdowns of 15 percent to 50 percent on smartphones, tablets, computer hardware and software and video games. It just takes a little digging.
Sadly, there are some things you can't expect to get for a true bargain, namely the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles released earlier this month - it will be hard enough to find them in stores in the first place.
But GameStop is offering deals and bundles for the previous generation of consoles, as well as some top games, on Black Friday itself. (The retailer has opted not to open its stores on Thanksgiving Day "out of respect for our store associates and their families," but it said that it will be opening the majority of stores at midnight on Black Friday.)
The 250 GB model of the Xbox 360 will be bundled with "Halo 4" and "Tomb Raider" for $199 on Friday. And PlayStation fans can pick up a PS3 with "The Last of Us and "Batman: Arkham Origins" for the same price. In addition to some other game deals, the retailer says that customers can buy two used items and get a third used one for free, including games, accessories, systems and electronics. Given the lack of backwards-compatibility on the new consoles, chances are there will be at least a few good last-generation games floating around.
Walmart, meanwhile, is also offering a discount on some PS4 and Xbox One games, including NBA2K14 and Battlefield 4, knocking the price down to $50 from $60.