Archive for November 26, 2009

A complete guide to Black Friday deals, advice, and Ratings

Consumer Reports Holiday Headstart

We’ve been busy here getting ready for the holiday shopping season, which—despite its early start this year—traditionally starts on Black Friday. In addition to following deals and offering shopping tips here on the Electronics Blog, our reporters and testers have been updating the buying advice for a host of products at They’ve also been hard at work in our labs, as the flood of new product Ratings within the last week and a half can attest.

If you’re among the brave ones venturing out in search of deals this Black Friday weekend, we hope this buying guide will help prepare you. For buying tips and deals throughout this holiday season, be sure to check back with the Electronics Blog periodically. Check in also with Tightwad Tod, who is following deals for a number of products and offering useful shopping advice.

Our reporters have combed through a number of Black Friday deal sites and retailer circulars. Below are the fruits of their labor. Many deals carry through the weekend. Even if they’re only valid on Black Friday itself, you might be surprised at what a little haggling can accomplish. And be careful of tempting bundled or package deals—sometimes they aren’t as great a value as they appear.

We’ve recently added model Ratings and recommendations to a number of product categories. Read the reports to see what's new or go straight to the charts (available to subscribers).

Along with the Ratings, we've updated our shopping advice for a number of product categories to better address the issues you’ll face as you research your purchases. We’ve also added some new categories—like e-book readers and pocket camcorders—and updated our descriptions of video game consoles.


MP3 players

E-book readers

Pocket camcorders

Video Game Consoles


Cell phones

Blu-ray players

GPS navigators

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Daily Dispatch: Google phone buzz builds; NY tests Xbox alert system


The Daily Dispatch is a collection of interesting news about computing,
consumer electronics, and other technology gathered from around the Web
by Dirk Klingner, our technology-trend watcher, and other staffers. If
you have a tip on news you want to share, leave a comment below.

The Googlephone: Google gears up for attack on mobile-phone market (Times UK)
Details on the Googlephone continue to emerge. It is predicted to be one of the fastest mobile devices and will be unique in that:

…a single company will control everything from the software in users’ phones to the services they use to make calls and surf the web.

Interop: New York Tests Xbox-Based Alert System (Information Week)

…The goal, said New York State Deputy CIO Rico
Singleton, is to reach younger residents who spend more time on the
Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii than with television or radio.

Firefox's Plan to Kick the Login's Butt (ReadWriteWeb)

The good people who work on the revolutionary, open-sourced, and occasionally maligned browser have been hard at work on making cross-site navigation and portable IDs a solvable problem.

Get movie trailers and more with Google Search for mobile (Google Mobile Blog)

Our new movie listings page now includes buttons to play trailers right on your phone, ratings and categories, movie posters, upcoming showtimes, and a concise list of the nearest theaters and their distances from you. We keep information on this page succinct so you can quickly browse through shows and showtimes to help you decide which movie to see. If you want more details about a specific movie, just touch the poster or movie title and you'll see our new movie details page that has a synopsis of the movie, a more detailed list of showtimes, the cast and crew, and pictures.

Navigation App Waze Makes Crowdsourced Map-Building a Game (ReadWriteWeb)

…To encourage users to contribute to the map-building process, the company came up with an idea to make it more of a game. Originally, the Waze character would appear and munch dots on the screen when you ventured onto a road that didn't previously exist in the company's database.

Lighter side: Better Living through Chemistry (LA Times)

Listen up, all you science geeks: Do you want to be the star of Thanksgiving dinner? Then watch this video. Taped a few days ago at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the video features a lecture and demonstration given by chemistry professor Diane Bunce. Bunce is also associate editor for chemical education research for the American Chemical Society's Journal of Chemical Education. She dons a pilgrim-esque bonnet and apron — and then a lab coat — to explain how chemistry and Thanksgiving intersect. Watch it and you'll amaze and possibly annoy friends and family with your newfound knowledge!

Thanks to Cyndi S. for the lighter side share.

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