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What you need to know before shopping for tech on Black Friday

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As more Black Friday flyers start to surface, technology is one area you can see lucrative deals from TVs to laptops, smartphone accessories smartphones and everything in between. Whether you’re hitting the lineups on Black Friday or jumping on the steals come Cyber Monday, here are some dos and don’ts on buying technology, especially when on sale. 

Technology and what you’re using it for

How you plan on using a gadget will ultimately determine how much money you should spend. Whether that’s a TV, a multi-purpose Lenovo Thinkpad, or smartphone, you can go the budget route and buy something that’s low cost or heavily discounted, or you can invest with the intention of keeping it for a while. For something like a TV or a computer, most people ideally plan to keep it for several years, while smartphones can be replaced with a carrier every couple years. 

How often you plan on using a piece of tech matters, too. If you watch or stream a lot of TV, you may want to spend more on a smart TV that includes internet capabilities to your favourite services or has built-in features like Chromecast so you can share content off your mobile device. If you’re watching live sports, perhaps you want something more heavy-duty like a Sony 65" 4K UHD HDR LED that has Google Assistant and Android Smart TV built right in. The more action your content has, be it sports or gaming, the higher the hertz refresh rate you want. That will ultimately come at a cost.

Where you buy it from does matter

A great deal can lure you in, but you do want to consider where you buy a product from. Online retailers like Amazon not only have great laptop deals, but will offer an easy return or exchange process should you not be happy or something doesn’t go right. In store, Best Buy can also offer a holiday return policy that extends the amount of time you have to return a product. The retail guarantee in conjunction with the warranty from the manufacturer will ultimately determine support for your purchase—so be wary of shopping with third-party retailers that could void any limited or extended warranties that come with your investment. 

Does it matter if I’m buying older-generation or refurbished tech?

This is a popular question. Older-generation devices are a great way to save as stores and manufacturers try to sell their inventory to make room for newer tech. Cycles for each product varies, so doing your homework in that area is smart so you’re aware whether you’re about to buy something that’s about to get refreshed—if that’s something that matters. 

Inspect the tech if you’re buying an open-box item to see if it’s been used, or if something’s being sold as refurbished, take the time to ask if it comes with additional support should something malfunction earlier than expected that could take away from the investment of your gadget.

Think compatibility

Consider the compatibility of what you’re buying. There are so many services and products out there now, so make sure they’re designed to work with your tech. For example, the Ring Video Doorbell is optimized to work with Amazon Echo and Alexa, while the Nest Smart Thermostat is part of the Google Assistant and Nest family, so combining a Ring Video Doorbell with a Google Nest Hub Max might trigger some compatibility issues. In this example, a Nest Hello Doorbell might be a smarter investment, or if you have an Amazon Echo, purchase a Ring Video Doorbell. Your best bet is to pick an ecosystem and stay in it. 

You credit card can have your back

Finally, purchase protection is a great blanket for your technology. Many premium credit cards like Mastercard offer purchase protection that can extend warranties, or even cover for damage or theft. Every card is different, so be sure to look into the terms of your credit card so you’re aware of coverage before you shop, remember to checkout securely using “https” webpages, and review your statements regularly.

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