Since TBG's founding in 2013, we've paid close attention to Black Friday promotions and sales trends, keeping track of the very best deals, but also noting where certain areas of the market demonstrate a clear lack of discounts. Feel free to check out our coverage of Black Friday 2015 and Black Friday 2016 if you're interested, but for now, we'll be focusing on 2017.
We've always encouraged our readers to jump on deals early in the sales cycle, and deals on the 300 or so products we were tracking this year gave us no reason to change that advice. But there were a few surprises this year, and for the sake of completeness, we'll highlight the exceptions to the rule that we tracked this year (i.e., prices that dropped after Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday, or even Cyber Monday).
Another thing to keep in mind is that Black Friday deals are clearly being driven by manufacturers, not retailers. That means if you see a good deal at one store, it's extremely likely you'll see the exact same deal at every other major store. And this is so predictable, in fact, that we pretty much know ahead of time which products will be discounted, just based on history: Samsung discounted a few of its older SSDs, Intel tossed around some tempting price cuts on CPUs released in early 2017, Crucial showed up on Cyber Monday with a big SSD discount, and Logitech and Corsair provided some truly incredible deals on PC peripherals, and in the case of Corsair, a single memory kit (yes, just one of its thousands of SKUs!).
So, without further ado, here are the categories we watched, and the deals we saw (or did not see!):
1. Drones: Some major, once-a-year discounts on these admittedly ultra-high margin items. Market leader DJI offered $100-$150 off on all of its top-rated drones, including its new Spark, which dropped to $400, and Mavic Pro, which dropped to $900. These discounts stuck around a little longer than we expected, perhaps due to the highly-negative press surrounding DJI's purported spying for the Chinese government. It remains to be seen whether consumers who were up in arms about the U.S. and British governments conducting surveillance on their citizens will react to the Chinese government doing it on foreign territory, sponsored by the very targets of their surveillance. But hey, that's a topic for another article, right?!?
2. Laptops: We saw a few nice deals on a few laptops like the brand-new HP Envy 13, which dropped to $900, making it an exceptional deal. Lenovo also unleashed its usual avalanche of coupon and codes, but we feel consumers are tiring of this practice, as they'd rather just pick up one good deal rather than sort through dozens trying to figure out which are actually legitimate. Lenovo took a big risk moving to a direct-to-consumer model (many of its laptops can only be purchased from the Lenovo website), and we think it's not a coincidence that it recently slipped behind HP as the #1 OEM in the world. With a few retailers (most notably Amazon) now becoming the go-to shopping destination for tech shoppers, brand-specific shopping portals are going the way of the dodo (or at least they should!).
3. Monitors: Great, great deals on a few items like the class-leading HP VH240a 23" IPS monitor, which dropped from $130 to $110, making it an exceptional home-office pick, and the gamer-focused Acer XB271HU, which went from $800 to $650. We also saw some good deals on Dell monitors (like the older but still gorgeous Ultrasharp U3415W for $500, wow!). Generally, discounts were model-specific, not brand-specific, so you really did have to focus in on specific picks.
4. HDTVs: This market has heated up as of late, as more consumers start to jump on the 4K bandwagon (which we fully encourage as long as they get an HDR-capable model). At the high-end, LG is simply dominating, bringing its 55" C7P OLED TV down to $1700 (consider that it retailed for $2800 when it was launched just six months ago). This allowed just about anyone to get an OLED if that was their preference. Sony also got in on the action, and while it's licensing LG tech for its own OLED TV, the real discounts were on its standard LEDs, including its award-winning Sony XBR65X900E 65" 4K HDR TV, which dropped to $1,500, down from $3,000 at the beginning of the year. On the budget end of the spectrum, the excellent Vizio M50-E1 4K HDR Display, which we reviewed here, dropped from its $600 MSRP to $500 on Black Friday, which meant it was a pretty incredible deal.
Taking a step back, were a bit surprised at some of the MSRPs of TVs at the beginning of 2017, as many manufacturers increased them over 2016. Clearly, they were pushing larger margins on this gear, and it couldn't be clearer that consumers should never buy a model right at release, no matter how great they seem! Another important finding for TV shoppers - all of the Black Friday discounts in 2017 actually went into effect a week before Thanksgiving, meaning there was truly no reason to skip Thanksgiving dinner to get them!
All right, how about all the high-end PC components that we know many of our readers lust after? Turn to the next page to learn what we saw in this market!