Rich Warren: Don't necessarily dive into Black Thursday insanity
Welcome to Black Thursday, once known as Thanksgiving. Since you're perusing an electronics/technology column instead of basting the turkey, you might be heading out to buy the latest toy/gizmo/must-have piece of electronics.
The secret is that for everyone who grabs a super bargain today or tomorrow, a score could buy the product they desire next week at the same price. Also, most of the large big-box stores arrange with manufacturers for special loss-leader models for Black Thursday and Friday, which may or may not be the same as the models on the shelf the rest of the year.
So sit back, enjoy another helping of sweet potatoes, and shop at your convenience over the weekend or next week.
Unless your quest is for something Apple or Bose, most manufacturers introduce new models in early January at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which become available in the spring. Thus, prices are discounted over the next couple of months as they move out inventory of discontinued models. Few technological innovations await, so if you find a good price on what you want, snatch it now.
One exception may be older models of tablets. Although the older iPads and Kindles sport attractive prices, there are some hidden "gotchas." As Apple, Amazon and others upgrade operating systems, the older models might be left behind in a year.
Also, as previously mentioned here, if you want a cellular-enabled iPad, the new iPad Air is dramatically better than its predecessor. It could save you hundreds of dollars in cell fees over a few years because it allows changing cell providers at whim.
If you choose an e-book reader, such as a Nook or Kindle, be sure to select an illuminated one such at the Nook GlowLight or Kindle Paperwhite. You're better off buying a full-fledged tablet if you want to do more than reading books, rather than a more expensive e-reader with some tablet abilities. Barnes & Noble and Amazon provide Nook and Kindle apps for most tablets.
A few quick tips:
— choose an LED-illuminated LCD TV;
— any non-TV display (such as computer, tablet or smartphone) should be high-definition resolution;
— consider an unlocked cell phone, such as the Nexus 5, that offers a choice of carriers (more expensive in the short run, possibly far less expensive in the long run); and
— finally, good loudspeakers never become obsolete or go out of style.
Speakers are the least sexy product you can buy, but the most enduring and gratifying. The headphones that come with most products are junk. Spend at least $60 on a good set of replacement headphones. You can spend as much as $500.
Spending more, rather than less, on headphones delivers great rewards. Now that the airlines permit noise-canceling headphones gate-to-gate, they prove more rewarding than ever.
Comcast gives a new holiday gift: You can take it with you.
Earlier this month, Comcast launched a major update to its Xfinity TV Player App, now called Xfinity TV Go. The new Xfinity TV Go app enables customers to watch up to 35 television channels over the Internet on their Apple and Android portables.
Coupled with the ability to stream more than 25,000 on-demand choices and download thousands of hit movies and TV shows to watch offline later, Xfinity TV Go allows accessing all favorite content on-the-go.
Xfinity TV customers are able to watch up to 35 live TV channels from the app, depending on their subscription, wherever there's a Wi-Fi connection.
Two readers are moving to a condo in Mahomet and asked if they must subscribe to cable to view broadcast TV channels.
If they can install an outdoor antenna, they do not need cable. A modest $75 outdoor antenna will capture all the network channels, although viewers may find themselves watching ABC from Springfield rather than Fithian.
Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.