Best Buy reminded customers this morning that doors will open at 5 a.m. on Friday. Better bring a jacket, store floor plan, and maybe protective pads. Things can get ugly.
Today's email from Best Buy included a link to their digital circular. But before you start your shopping list, let's take a moment to look past the prices and see if these deep-discount TVs, laptops, and video game systems are worth buying. Here are some reviews to accompany Best Buy's 2009 sales.
Samsung 46-inch LED-LCD HDTV: User reviews sing the praises of this super-thin 1080p television. But its "doorbuster" Black Friday price – $1,599 – seems unimpressive. Savvy shoppers can avoid the lines and pick up essentially the same TV now from Amazon for $1,749. Both stores will deliver the Energy-Star-compliant TV for free. But Best Buy will sweeten the deal with free installation and will recycle your old television at no extra cost.
PlayStation 3 bundle: On Friday and Saturday, shoppers can pick up the top-of-the-line video game console with two free games, "Little Big Planet: Game of the Year Edition" and "Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time." The whole package is $299. The PS3 has gained a lot of momentum from its recent price drop and solid feature set, including free online play, free Netflix streaming service, built-in Blu-ray player, and HD graphics. The bundled games also get top marks from reviewers (95 percent and 86 percent, respectively, according to Metacritic). Both appeal to a younger set of gamers, or at least the young at heart.
Xbox 360 bundle: Numerically, Best Buy pulled together an even better deal for gamers eying a new Xbox 360. But reviews may say differently. This Black Friday deal includes the high-end Elite console and six games, all for $299. The Xbox itself is a great value, with more online features than the PS3, a larger catalog of games, and a higher install base – so more of your friends are likely to own one. But the six selected games are a little weak. Here's the list (with review scores from Metacritic): Sonic the Hedgehog (46 percent), Spider Man: Web of Shadows (68), Wall-E (50), LEGO Batman (76), Pure (85), Ghost Recon 2 (86).
Compaq Mini Netbook: This pint-size 'puter comes with a similarly tiny price tag: $179. The 10.1-inch laptop is a Best Buy exclusive, so it's hard to find independent reviews. But similar netbooks, such as the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Netbook, cost twice as much. Remember, though, these itty-bitty machines are not meant to replace full-sized PCs. Netbooks trade away high-end specs for its petite frame and therefore should be secondary computers for email and light Web use.
Garmin Nuvi 205w GPS device: This entry-level GPS unit is "very good," according to CNET. The large touch screen and simple interface works wonders if you're not expecting too many features. Best Buy's Black Friday price, $99, is a solid deal. Most retailers want between $130 and $175. More info here.
The full Best Buy Black Friday 2009 sales circular is online here. Remember: deals last from 5 a.m. Friday to Saturday evening.