Friday 14 December 2018

Blinded by Black Friday offers? Here's a look at some genuine tech deals

Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones
Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Wondering about genuine tech deals for Black Friday?

While retailers may be blinding you with offers that sound amazing, there are few significant deals on popular premium products that most people actually want.

Earlier this week, the UK consumer organisation 'Which' published research showing that 87pc of 'Black Friday' sale items were actually cheaper at other times of the year.

Think of Black Friday offers like a supermarket coupon book: most of the deep discounts are for brands or products that you wouldn’t normally consider buying. So you’ll see lots of Bluetooth speakers, low-powered laptops, no-name tablets and odd kitchen gadgets.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone

What you won’t see is any discount on premium gadgets like a current iPhone or DJI drone, which are the kind of things you might really want for Christmas. There is also very limited reductions on other in-demand tech goods.

Still, it’s not a complete bust -- there are some genuine discounts to be had. We’ve scoured Irish retailers to find a few in the context of stuff most people say they’re considering buying. (We’ve excluded TVs because it’s simply impossible to know what are genuine reductions and what is straight-up spoofing.)

 

1. SMARTPHONES

 

(i) Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone (64GB, RRP €869)

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Watch
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Watch
Apple MacBook Pro, 13-inch

Carphone Warehouse: €769

DID Electrical, Harvey Norman: €819

(An honorable mention goes to Argos, which has last year’s Galaxy S8 for €479, almost €100 cheaper than anywhere else and an excellent deal for the money.)

 

(ii) Apple iPhone 8, iPhone XS

No discounts anywhere

 

 

2. LAPTOPS

(i) Apple MacBook Pro, 13-inch (Core i5, 8GB Ram, 128GB storage, RRP €1,549)

Harvey Norman, Currys PC World, Power City: €1,359

 

(ii) Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (8GB, Core i5, 128GB storage plus cover keyboard, RRP €1,200)

Littlewoods: €885

Microsoft Store Ireland: €899

Currys PC World: €1,060

Power City: €1,169

 

 

3. TABLETS

iPad 2018 (RRP €369)

Argos, Power City: €349

 

 

4. SMARTWATCHES / FITNESS BANDS

(i) Apple Watch (Series 3, 42mm, RRP €339)

CompuB: €319

(No discounts on Series 4 models)

 

(ii) Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Watch (RRP €289)

Harvey Norman: €219

Currys PC World: €249

 

(iii) Fitbit Charge 2 (RRP €129)

Argos: €99

Fitbit Store: €109

Currys PC World: €119

 

 

5. HEADPHONES

Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones (RRP €379)

Harvey Norman: €329

Currys PC World: €349

 

 

6. DRONES

DJI drones (Spark, Mavic Air)

No discounts on any DJI drones or accessories from any retailer

 

 

CONCLUSION

Retailers chop and change their discounts. It’s not a given that just because a retailer has a discount on one type of electronic product that it applies one on another. For example, Harvey Norman and PC World are among the retailers to offer the basic 13-inch MacBook Pro for €190 off Apple’s RRP price. But they don’t join Argos and Power City in knocking €20 off the 2018 9.7-inch iPad.

In some cases, there are genuine discounts being applied straight from the manufacturer. This is very common with cameras. So while the retailer may suggest that it’s their sale, it’s usually a new RRP introduced by the manufacturer, albeit a temporary sale-oriented RRP.

It’s much harder to assess the validity of sales with products that are reaching their natural end of life. This is a common thing in tech, especially on products such as TVs, laptops and cameras. For example, Fujifilm is currently selling its 2016 camera, the X-T2, for half (€850) of what it originally cost when it was launched. It’s been a gradual reduction, though: it was on sale for €1,100 for several months this year. And the company, which launched the successor X-T3 in August, isn’t making the X-T2 model any more, meaning that it’s just trying to get rid of whatever stock is there, one way or the other. Does that constitute a special Black Friday ‘sale’? Possibly: the proof will be whether Fujifilm raises the price again after the current promotion period is finished. But I doubt that it will.

The same can be said for Canon, which is now selling its old 6D ‘full frame’ starter DSLR for €999. That’s definitely the cheapest price that it’s ever been available for, but this is a 2012 camera that was superseded by the 6D Mark ii model more than a year ago.

In both cases, it might be a little like a dealer selling the previous generation car model and calling it a one-off sale.

This is not to say that either the Fujifilm X-T2 or the Canon 6D aren’t worth getting or aren’t good products. I own the 6D (which I purchased a few years back) and have used the X-T2: they’re both excellent products that are arguably good value, giving serious quality at a much more accessible price than newer models.

So they may well be worth getting.

I’m merely pointing out that it’s not necessarily some sort of mad giveaway that the retailers (and manufacturers) say it is. Their main motive is to get rid of the stock. It’s not in their interest to have cheaper, older models lying around as it may make potential customers think that the newer models are priced at a level that’s unreasonable.

The most egregious example of this is with televisions. More than any other electronic product, they fall in price on a regular, predictable schedule. So the biggest discounts you see are almost certainly on the oldest TV sets that would attract those prices naturally anyway: very few will ‘return’ to a higher price next month, meaning it’s not a time-limited sale.

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