How to bag the best bargains

If there’s one thing to jolt your realisation that it’s time to start your Christmas shopping it’s Black Friday. Straight after Thanksgiving for our friends in the USA come Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Relatively new to the UK, these massive discount events have gone from strength to strength since I last wrote about it here. It’s a great time to buy Christmas gifts for your loved ones – or yourself!

There are offers everywhere, but how can you be sure of getting the best deal? Here are a few handy hints:

  1. Narrow down your search. Think carefully about what you need. This will keep you from being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of special offers.
  2. Compare. Whilst retailers will be trying to match each other on price, there will be big differences here and there. If you’re desperate to bag something specific, comparison shopping is the way to go – especially if you’re an Apple enthusiast, like me!
  3. Research. If going through price comparisons site by site feels like too much work, sites like TechRadar and most national newspapers publish round-ups every year.
  4. Head for the source. Brands like Google, Amazon, and (sometimes) Apple will often set the sale price for their own tech, so use their sites as a benchmark for your bargain hunt.
  5. Check social media. Many big brands and major retailers advertise flash sales and special discount codes for customers who subscribe to their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat feeds, not to mention their email newsletters.

So, what’s out there this year? The madness has already started so we’ve put together a quick list of what our online retailers are promising between now and November 27th:

  • Amazon (on now) has a huge range of special offers available on smart home products (such as lighting and thermostats), computers, games consoles and accessories, headphones and speakers, digital photography equipment, TVs, and of course its own range of e-readers, tablets and Echo devices.
  • Argos (on now) is offering deals on TVs, computers and printers, gaming accessories, tablets, smartphones, headphones and speakers, radios and hi-fi, cameras, fitness trackers, and selected smart home products.
  • Carphone Warehouse (on now) is offering reduced monthly contracts on 28 phone models, including the Samsung Galaxy 8 and the iPhone 7.
  • Curry’s PC World (starting Friday at midnight) likes to keep specific details of its Black Friday offering under wraps until the day itself, but the “black tag” deals currently listed hint that there will be something for everyone.
  • Game (starting Thursday) is also keeping a certain mystique about its sale, but the placeholder page is full of promise for gamers across the country. As well as games and consoles, it looks like there will be discounts on pre-owned mobiles and tablets.
  • John Lewis’ Black Friday page currently just explains what Black Friday is, but references to their “never knowingly undersold” policy hint that they will be quietly matching their deals to other major retailers. There will be offers across all departments, not just the technology items.
  • Maplin (on now) has deals available across its range of products, and is also offering vouchers worth £5 with a spend of £40-80, or £10 with a spend of £80 or more.
  • Richer Sounds (on now) is offering deals across its range of TVs, hi-fis, projectors, speakers, and turntables if you’re feeling retro.

Once you’ve got your goodies, remember: if you (or your families) need home tech support in Chiswick or nearby, we at Fingertips would love to help out.

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Let the music play on….

With Strictly back on our TVs, dancing is firmly on the agenda for autumn. In June I wrote about music streaming services, and I hope you’ve been able to enjoy dancing to some new tunes as a result.  But having decided which service to use to listen to your music, what are you going to listen to it with? (Or should that be, with what are you going to listen to it?  On. With.  Whatever…!)

So, on to the hardware.  As always, there are various options for you to listen to digital music.

1. At its simplest you can use your computer and the sound system built into it. Or even your regular laptop speakers, but these do tend to be a bit ‘tinny’.

2. My son spent around £40 on a set of computer speakers; apparently they’ve got ‘two tweeters and a bass bin’ so he’s happy. They have a mini-jack connector and he simply plugs the speakers directly into his laptop or his phone’s headphone socket.  They sound quite good in his bedroom.

3. Go Bluetooth.  There are a variety of bluetooth speakers ranging from just a few pounds. You ‘pair’ your device with the speaker which means you don’t need cables.  As with most things, you get what you pay for. Our Tipster Mark swears by the Bose Soundlink 3. It’s Bluetooth and has a good bass sound and costs around £240.  It has a range of about 9 metres and will remember the last 6 devices it’s been connected to.  It runs on mains power, but it also has a fantastic 14 hour battery life. Ideal for garden parties, although maybe not this week.

4. Show me the Sonos!  It’s fab and my clear favourite! If you want an easy-to-use music system that covers your whole house and will play all of your music, no matter where it’s stored, Sonos is probably your best option.  You can have speakers in every room, all connected to one music library and one streaming account, and each playing different things if you want. It can handle the highest quality streams and music downloads. It can also cope with televisions, Internet radio, husbands and many children, plus you can even choose whether your speakers are black or white. There are so many options, starting from about £200. Why not take a look at their website, www.sonos.com and build your own system?

And as always, if you need help to sort out your Sonos, or any other home IT support, just get in touch. Meanwhile, keep dancing….