Black Friday is coming! This is when all major companies band together and find the best ways to cut prices, costing them bazillions of dollars, selflessly passing the savings onto you, you savvy consumer you. This is capitalism’s worst nightmare and the Best Buys of the world would stop it if they only could.
Nah, not so much. Black Friday earns American companies many monies for a reason. Your bad reasoning, specifically. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you be a super tech smarty pants this year.
Poindexter has the best reasons not to waste your money on cheap, gimmicky technology this Black Friday. Avoid the rush, don’t invest in hysteria, and spend some extra time with loved ones.
Cheap Computers are Junk, Not Inexpensive Bargains
As a regular, thrift oriented American consumer with a penchant for tech, we’ve learned a thing or two about savings money on gadgets. Every year, without fail, Black Friday disappoints. Black Friday advertisements will draw the unsuspecting shopper in with crazy claims like…
Add a strategically positioned Apple Ad in the next frame, and people arrive expecting steep discounts on Cupertino’s stylish status symbols, only to discover that twenty dollar tablet is the cosmic opposite of “good” and “worth the money.” What’s so bad about cheap tablets? To start, when craftsmanship is a distant after thought, you can expect to replace the device within months not years. They are underpowered and struggle to run their own operating system, usually Android. Under most circumstances, they cannot be upgraded. And their greatest sin of all, they might NOT be able to run Angry Birds. That’s a deal breaker, right? Incredibly, matters get worse.
Cheap Tech Might Be Sending Your Data to China
Yeah, then there’s that. Your usage history, location, and other personal information is something you risk sacrificing to Chinese analysts in exchange for a too-good-to-be-true Black Friday tablet deal. See, Google usually charges manufacturers licensing fees for great services like the Google Play Store, so cheapo tablet manufacturers use their own store and their own software instead. This is exactly how Amazon is able to offer their (damn good) line of Fire HD tablets for such a low cost, except Amazon has the resources and time invested to make their software and products shine. Cheap, off-brand tablets are a horrible experience for you, the buyer, and the Android experience as a whole. If you do get an Android tablet this holiday (recommended, they’re awesome), spend more and get something that won’t make you hate using it (See: Samsung Galaxy).
Cheap Computers are Loaded with Crap-ware (McAfee, Norton, eBay, Wild Tangent, oh so much more…)
Poor laptop, never even got a change. Born and buried in garbage.
Along the same lines as Android tablets are PCs and laptops. Microsoft charges fees to manufacturers, like Hewlett Packard, to use Windows. Not being ones to make less money, these manufacturers then get paid by other companies, like McAfee, to include their terrible software on every computer. Technologists call this bloat software, because it contributes nothing to your computer’s performance or safety and needs to be removed immediately. Like with cheap tablets, this bad software drags down the experience, making Windows 10 feel sluggish and buggy. Windows 10 is among the fastest, best operating systems available, but even it has a limit. Cheap laptops can still be a good value, but do yourself a favor and remove the gimmicky, “free” bundled software.
Laptop Bundles are Filled with Junk to Drum Up Value
A favorite of Best Buy and Walmart is to drum up the value of their laptops and computers by bundling them with lots of needless extras. Free antivirus, flash drives, screen cleaner, and mouse pads get tossed into the mix to distract the buyer from the genuine low quality of the laptop itself. Years down the line, you won’t give two thoughts to that flash drive they included, but you’ll absolutely despise the shoddy hinge, keyboard, or screen of your then cheap, now garbage laptop. Focus on what matters when you buy and laptop and you’ll quickly discover the real cost in tech savings.
Apple Knows You’ll Pay Full Price Eventually
Don’t let advertising professionals mislead you into thinking you’ll get any wacky discounts on Apple products. Apple didn’t get to be the most valuable company on Earth by letting Crazy Ernie slash prices. They know their value, know most people will just pay full price, and know that if you don’t want to spend $1300 for an entry level Macbook Pro, you might discover that a $300 iPad is pretty reasonable (it is, they’re great). Apple products cost more, but are virtually free of bloatware and tend to score higher marks in user satisfaction and overall security. You get a good product from Apple, but the initial investment is much, much higher than most of their Windows and Android counterparts. If Apple is asking too much, look elsewhere. You might be surprised what you find (in a good way).
Ultimately, Black Friday teaches us that good tech costs money. It doesn’t have to be too much money, but it can’t be too little. Good craftsmanship matters and skipping out in favor of cheap, crummy technology treats computers like disposable razors (overpriced, too). Don’t feed into the throwaway culture and save yourself the disappointment. A good, mid-range laptop ($500-750) can get you years and years of use, so long as you take good care of it. At the very least, better laptops can be more easily repaired and offer decent upgrade paths. Do your research and don’t fall for the bait and switch.
Walmart and Best Buy are expecting impulsive, angsty shoppers to pad their coffers with bad choices. Be a smarty-pants and either stay home this Black Friday or do your research before taking the plunge.