Black Friday Buys

The Bose QC25, our favorite noise cancelling headphones, at an incredible bargain price of $129.

It seems that Black Friday specials started a week or more ago this year, and it also seems they will continue much longer, with of course, “Cyber Monday” and even much of the week following.

The good news is that many of the deals aren’t of the crazy “only one in stock” nature that used to be the case, where you just knew that by the time you got to the store, all the best deals would be long gone.  And, of course, on-line, there’s no need to go to a store at all.

We’ve picked a few of our favorite deals that probably will remain available for a while.  That’s not a reason to delay, but it does mean that you’re less likely to be disappointed if you click right now.

Whether you’re choosing a little treat for yourself, or planning ahead for Christmas gifts, now is a great time to take advantage of the deals on these six different product ranges.

Bose QC25 or QC35-II Noise Canceling Headphones

The Bose noise canceling headphones remain our firm favorite.  We prefer the older QC25 non-Bluetooth style, because they are simpler and easier to use than the new Bluetooth ones.  The QC25 headphones are available for an amazing value $129 on Amazon, down from a normal $180, and way down from prior to the QC35 launch, when the QC25 was selling for $300.

We think that Bose no longer makes the QC25, so this is getting close to your last chance to buy a top-of-the-line set of noise cancelling headphones without the nonsense of Bluetooth added to them.

The QC25 headphones come with a connecting cable and built-in microphone so you can use them for voice calls on an iPhone.  If you want to use them for voice calls with an Android phone, you can simply buy the other style of connector cable, which costs less than $10.

We feel this to be the best deal we’ve found for any Black Friday type product.  If you don’t already have the Bose QC15 or QC25 headphones, you really should rush to take advantage of this amazing deal.

If you actually want Bluetooth equipped headphones, then the QC35-II are discounted down from $349 to $279.

The much-promoted Sony WH-1000MX3 noise cancelling headphones are also discounted down from $349 to $278.  However, in our review of the Sony headphones, we found them confusing and difficult to use, preferring the slightly simpler Bose QC35.

Amazon Fire HD10 Tablet

There are small discounts to be found on older model Apple iPads if you look around a bit, but the clear tablet bargain value winner is Amazon’s Fire HD10 tablet, which has been reduced from its already very appealing price of $150 down to a mere $99.99.  Don’t choose the more expensive unit with 64GB of storage, choose the 32GB unit and then add a high capacity Micro-SD card to it if you need more storage.  They’re on special too (see below).

We love our HD10 tablet.  We load it up with streamed movies from both Netflix and Amazon Prime before traveling anywhere, so we can watch movies galore, all offline, without needing fast internet.  We also have put a lot of our music onto the Micro-SD card, too.  Get a 256GB or even a 512GB card for an enormous amount of extra capacity for movies and music.

Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

We still remember the first ever Amazon Kindle eBook reader, and the excitement we felt at receiving it.  The first model was just under $400 – believe it or not, at the time it seemed like a great price!  It was, of course, nowhere near as good or compact as the current units.

Yes, it can seem either “old fashioned” or even unnecessary these days to have a black and white Kindle reader as well as, for example, the lovely Fire HD10.  But there is still a place for the Kindle reader.  It turns on and off instantly, it has an incredibly long battery life, it is tiny and lightweight, and it is extremely simple to use.  It also gives a great quality “easy on the eyes” image when reading text, although it is not nearly as good as a regular color screen if the book has illustrations and photos.  It works in low light and bright light, in the sun or in the shadow, and at its modest price, if you forget it and leave it behind somewhere, you’re not too much out of pocket, and once replaced, it is easy to redownload your library of books again.

There is a cheaper $60 Kindle available, but its screen isn’t as high a resolution and so the text quality is visibly inferior to the Paperwhite and Oasis models.  For us, the “sweet spot” Kindle is the Paperwhite, now on sale at $85 instead of $130.  The 8GB unit will have sufficient capacity to fill it with more books than you are likely to read in the next decade, there’s no need to pay more for the 32GB unit.

The high end Oasis unit has a slightly larger screen, but that means it is becoming more obtrusive and bulky, and at $174, while nicely discounted for Black Friday, is no longer as compelling a bargain as the Paperwhite.

Amazon Echo Units

The fierce competition between Amazon and Google to sell you their respective voice control devices continues, with us as consumers being the clear winners with great value products on offer.

We prefer the Amazon Alexa family, and there are several wonderful value products on offer this season.  Their latest model small Echo Dot is $22, down from a list of $50.  That’s clearly a great price, and it gets even better.  If you choose the option to add a smart Alexa-controlled plug for only $5 more, then at $27, that’s even better still.  We feel there’s always a need for more Echo units, and definitely always a need for more smart plugs, too.

For only $13 more, you can get a Dot with a built in digital clock.  This is useful, enabling the Dot to be all you need in a bedside alarm clock – indeed, because it is voice controlled, it doesn’t even have to be in arm’s reach.  You can command it to wake you whenever you like, and you can even tell it what radio station or music you want it to play when waking you (or just accept the default alarm tone).  On the other hand, you can check the time without even opening your eyes by just calling out “Alexa Time” and having the unit answer you with the current time, so maybe the display isn’t essential.

We use our Echo units to listen to the radio or other music when in bed and before turning the light out.  While the sound on the tiny Echo Dot is surprisingly good, you might want to consider the larger Echo unit, which is $60 instead of $100 at present.  At $100, it was foolishly expensive, at $60 it is temptingly well priced.

The other Echo product of note is the Echo with a screen – the Echo Show.  These units come with screens of various different sizes.  In reality, the screen is as much a gimmick as it is a truly useful feature, so we’d never buy one of the larger screened units, but the 5″ screened unit is on special currently for $50 (instead of $90) and at that price, maybe you want to try one and see if you get value out of the screen.  Perhaps in the kitchen, for displaying recipes?  It too has an option to add a smart plug for only another $5.

We’ve a helpful multi-page list of Alexa voice commands to assist you better understand some of the many things you can do with your unit.

Video Streaming Devices

We have always loved our Roku streaming devices, and so are very excited to see their current top of the line Roku Ultra on sale for half its normal price – $48 instead of $100.  Well, to be precise, that’s even slightly more than half off.

We like the ability to plug a set of headphones into the remote and listen without disturbing others in the house, we like that it can be controlled by an app on our phone, and we love that it has 4K and HDR capabilities too, “future proofing” it, for at least the next year or so.

But we’re also intrigued by the Amazon Fire TV Stick, that comes with Alexa compatibility.  How nice it might be to be able to control one’s television and program streaming through Alexa as well.  It is on sale for half price, at only $25.  There’s a cheaper version, but the cheaper product doesn’t support 4K, so spend the extra $5 on this unit.

Micro-SD Card

You can never have too many of these tiny memory cards, and they delightfully continue to come down in price and go up in capacity.

Our pick this year is the Samsung EVO Select range of Micro-SD cards.  They come with adapters, so you can use them in devices that require full-size SD cards as well.  They are rated at a very high transfer speed, to make them work with high resolution 4K streaming/recording.  Get lower capacity 16GB cards for your camera, and high 256GB or 512GB capacity cards for any video purposes, and to place your entire music collection onto a single card.

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