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November 24, 2021
☕ Good morning! Happy Thanksgiving eve.
Black Friday tips
OnePlus Nord vs Pixel 4a The bottom of both devices side by side in a staggered view
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

The big holiday sales are basically here already: there’s been a bunch of deals rolling throughout the month of November, and this week things got pretty real. I’ve snapped up a Google Nest Wifi to boost our mesh network at home already.

But there’s more to consider: price matching, extended return policies, and we have some tips. Here’s some quick notes on getting a deal.

In-store deals

  • Forget it? Look, in this ongoing pandemic, and the shift towards online deals, plus Target being closed, physical shopping on Black Friday will be hit and miss. That said, Walmart and Best Buy open from 5AM.

Price Tracker Extensions

There are an array of price tracking extensions and plugins that can helpfully let you know if a deal is really a deal. I’ve written about this before and given it a refresh below.

  • A price tracker extension for your browser does a lot of work in keeping track of shopping deals.
  • Camelizer (from old faithful CamelCamelCamel) and Keepa both track pricing on Amazon which is super helpful to check if you’re actually getting a good deal and how pricing changes month-to-month. You can find out if things are at normal prices or it’s a record low deal. Journalists use this tool, shoppers, everyone.
  • As for coupon plugins, umm, yeah, I’m not a fan. For a long time, I’ve suggested avoiding or at least understanding what coupon plugins like Honey are doing with your data

Deal sites

  • While we’ve got you covered for tech deals right here, deals aren’t just in new smartphones, headphones, TVs, and laptops.
  • Sites like SlickDeals spot good deals but the benefits go further: it’s the discussion forums and comments where deals, value, and alternatives are discussed. People tend to ask questions about products in the deal, and of course, being the internet, this is where other geeks hang out and pass on thoughts and reviews and so on.
  • One weird thing in 2021: The Wirecutter union is on strike (Gizmodo), so there’s an effort to make sure people know so they don’t cross the picket line. I mean, it’s kinda tricky, people use that site extensively this time of year, but the idea is not to click to buy products through that site for now, I guess.

Watch out for holiday-specific models

  • Something we’re figuring out more is that both retailers and manufacturers can team up to offer deals but they’re not always ideal. 
  • One trick they sometimes use is taking big name brand products and offering tweaked models at a cheaper price that are just like the regular products but with a few features left off.
  • There’s a useful Reddit discussion on this explaining how this can work with TVs, which have huge discounts because they package up lower-tier displays, or drop the number of HDMI/USB ports, to reach cut-price offers.
  • It’s all in the model numbers. Check too-good-to-be-true deals, and at least Google the model number to see if it comes up in reviews or at other retailers.

Price matching

If you want a deal but you want it at your favorite retailer, price matching might help.There are always rules for price matching and the policies are usually enforced pretty closely. 

  • One of the best bets is Target for its “Price Match Guarantee,” though only on certain online retailers (includes Amazon, Best Buy etc). Still, it’s helpful. Here’s some wording: “We’ll match the price if you buy a qualifying item at Target then find the identical item for less at, select online competitors, or in Target’s or competitor’s local print ad.
  • Also, while a bunch of big names like Google don’t offer price matching, Apple does: it offers price-matching if you’ve already bought an item and you see it cheaper elsewhere within a 14-day window.

Shipping and returns

Shipping may well be something to endure with bottlenecks over the past year or two continuing.

But Return policies are a little more generous this time of year, too. With extended return policies from Amazon and Apple coming back.

  • Amazon: Anything bought between now and December 31 can be returned until January 31.
  • Apple: Products bought between now and December 25 can be returned until January 8.

👀 Some Google Pixel 6a specs leak via code teardowns, including that it’ll use the Tensor SoC of the main Pixel 6 phones, which is pretty intriguing for a lower-cost device (Android Authority).

📸 Samsung launches Expert Raw camera app for photo enthusiasts, starting with a release on the Galaxy S21 Ultra (Android Authority).

🔧 Xiaomi could have its own at-home repair service on the way (Android Authority).

👍 WhatsApp is starting to now let you create your own stickers, with a slow rollout (Android Authority).

👉 If Fairphone can update its 6-year-old phone to Android 10, so can other OEMs (Android Authority).

🔨 Samsung to build $17 billion chip factory in Texas, with Samsung saying “the new facility will manufacture products based on advanced process technologies for application in areas such as mobile, 5G, high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI)” (CNET).

🍎 Apple reportedly switching to its own iPhone modem design in 2023, as the Qualcomm saga ends (Nikkei)

🍏 Also, Apple sues Israeli spyware firm NSO Group for allegedly targeting iPhone users with a hacking tool (BBC).

💻 Intel has started shipping Alder Lake-P processors to laptop makers. An emphasis on power but a lot of folks just want battery life like a Mac… (LaptopMag).

🔫 Battlefield 2042 review: DICE’s unwieldy shooter disappoints on almost every level, which isn’t a huge surprise given the undercooked beta (Ars Technica).

🏹 Marvel’s new Hawkeye TV show starts out strong because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, making the least-fun Avenger more fun (The Verge).

🍦 The McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine hacking saga has a new twist. It’s really, really complicated (Wired).

🐳 Humans have broken a fundamental law of the ocean (Wired).

😬 A woman pleads guilty to using to try to kill her ex-husband for $5,000. “I don’t get it,” Bob Innes, the owner of the joke site, said. “People are just stupid.” (Gizmodo).

👶 “How do new parents not die of sleep deprivation?” (r/nostupidquestions).

Wednesday Weirdness
DART Encapsulation in Payload Fairing

Something that you might’ve dismissed as an idea or simulation or some such is the news that NASA has indeed launched an asteroid attack mission.

  • On a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket overnight, DART, an asteroid missile, or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, “will attempt to collide with Dimorphos, a small ‘moonlet’ of a larger asteroid named Didymos. DART will strike Dimorphos at a rate a little greater than 6.6 km/s, aiming to slightly alter the trajectory of the asteroid”.
  • If all goes well, the DART spacecraft will collide with a small asteroid next October, and there’s a companion CubeSat called LICIACube that will emerge from DART to capture the asteroid collision.
  • “I believe we have a planetary defense program that is worth talking about now,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s chief of science.
  • The image above is of DART within the Falcon 9 fairing.

I’ll be back with you for a short update tomorrow ahead of your lunch/dinner plans!

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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