Are Black Friday Electronics Lower Quality?

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Shoppers often spend a good chunk of November gearing up for Black Friday deals, many patiently waiting all year for the biggest-of-big holiday sales. However, shoppers are also cautious. No matter how much we want that new TV, we may sometimes wonder if those steep promotions come with caveats—particularly where electronics are concerned.

It’s natural to express some skepticism. For the millions of Americans who wait until this time of year to purchase gifts or luxuries, Black Friday represents an opportunity to make your dollar go further than it normally would. But even good Black Friday deals can still mean dropping a significant chunk of change. When you’ve saved, planned, and waited for a deal to go live so you can be the first one in line, you want to make sure not just your money—but also your effort—are worth it. While retailers investing more in online Black Friday promotions this year may make it easier to identify a sale you have your eye on and load up the page for a quick purchase, you still want to trust that the item you’re buying will work for you.

One category where this is especially true is electronics. Consumer electronics make up some of the most popular sale items during the holiday shopping season. In 2019, 32% of surveyed customers said they were looking for laptops or TVs, and 30% said they were looking for smart home devices or gadgets. With Black Friday reporting often warning shoppers to be careful of defective products or products that may fail soon, it’s natural to question if you’re really getting the best deal or just the cheapest one.

Rest assured, most Black Friday electronics are perfectly fine. As long as you know good and bad signs to look for, you are very likely to get an item that will last you a long time at a significant discount. Here are a few tips and tricks for helping you get the highest-quality electronics on Black Friday.

Exercise the Most Caution With TVs

Some companies manufacture Black Friday-specific models. TVs are particularly notorious for this and are usually what the reporting on the subject is centered on. They have much shorter production times and are known to be more error prone. However, this is not true of every model from a manufacturer, and this does not apply to other electronics. While there tend to be new TV models almost every year with minor changes or snazzy features, electronics like video game consoles have more of a seven-year lifespan, with mid-cycle refreshes hitting at about the three-year mark. While something can always go wrong in the manufacturing process of these items, this means that the model you purchase on Black Friday was not part of a short-run line.

What’s more likely with non-TV electronics is that you will see steeper sales on last-year’s items or items near the end of their life cycle than you will see on new ones. However, this can still be a great deal for items that are meant to last seven to ten years.

Don’t Just Rely on Brand Recognition

It seems like it would be fairly common sense to stick with larger brands when making big-ticket purchases. This is not always the best strategy for Black Friday. While a Sony device probably won’t let you down, avoid brands that seem good but appear to have a high failure rate when you look up reviews online. On the other hand, brands that are less familiar to consumers like TCL tend to have lower price points overall (this is true all year, not just on Black Friday) and may review just as well or outperform more expensive or bigger competitors. Doing your research and not just relying on a big name can be important research to do in the lead-up to Black Friday.

Make a List of Features You Definitely Want

Models of popular TVs manufactured specifically for Black Friday could come with fewer HDMI ports, for instance. However, not everyone needs more than two. Especially if you get a budget-smart TV like a TCL Roku, or something from Amazon’s Fire TV line, you frankly don’t really need to worry about plugging in a bunch of extra devices for your day-to-day entertainment needs. On the other hand, if you know you want a TV with proper HDR, it could be very disappointing to wind up with a screen that is just “HDR compatible” but does not have the capability to truly display HDR outputs. Knowing ahead of time which features you are willing to compromise on (and which ones you are not) is essential to making sure you get the item you want.

If You Are Getting a TV, Pick One Out in Advance

As we mentioned earlier, there is some truth to the idea that certain electronics produced specifically for Black Friday can be more error prone. However, this is not true of every single TV a store might have in stock. They’ll be carrying older versions of a great TV—which are still probably good devices that could have most of the features you want—and may have special promotions for new models that will be in production all year.

The best way to shop for a TV on Black Friday is to pick one out in advance. This means doing research like reading reviews and watching for that specific item to go on sale in November. With many Black Friday sales likely to be available both online and in-store, this means being able to keep a close watch on all your wish list items from different retailers without leaving home.

Read the Warranty—and Possibly Get the Extended Warranty

The biggest risk with Black Friday electronics is disappointment. You might purchase an item you’ve waited all year for, just to find out later that it has some kind of serious manufacturing flaw. Checking the warranties is one big way to protect yourself and make sure you’re getting an item that will last years. Typically, this can be very difficult during the frenzy of in-store holiday shopping, but most stores with an online presence make an item’s warranty information clear. If you decide to purchase an extended warranty—which we here at DealPilot recommend if you’re planning on spending more than $400—online shopping makes that as easy as checking a box.

If you’re careful, you probably don’t need to worry about the quality of the electronics you purchase on Black Friday. But if you have any lingering concerns, making sure the warranty or care plan will cover your purchase should put your mind at ease.

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