DEALS, DEALS, DEALS
Although retailers like Walmart and Target leak their holiday shopping ads well in advance of Black Friday, Amazon plays a different game and waits as long as possible. But even the mega-retailer tips its hand, leaking some deals while promoting a rotating list of "early" Black Friday specials under a Black Friday Deals Week banner. Like last year, expect Amazon to discount all its proprietary tech, including Echo smart speakers and Fire media streaming devices, plus gaming consoles, coffee makers, smart thermostats, laptops, and TVs, not just in the runup to Black Friday and Cyber Monday but throughout the holiday shopping season.
Prices and availability are subject to change. Sale prices may not yet be active.
FIRE TV CUBE
Sale Price: $60 | Buy it
Reg. Price: $120 ($60 savings)
The Fire TV Cube is the latest salvo in Amazon's battle against Roku for the title of best media streaming device, with support for 4K ultra-high-definition content and HDR. This Black Friday deal is half off the normal price and undercuts the regular price of Roku's Ultra, its latest 4K streaming box, by $30. Early reviews are positive for the Fire TV Cube. It's got voice control and Alexa integration, although as with other Amazon products, you won't find apps for anything from rival Google. The Roku allows access to more content providers. But if you're already in Amazon's world, this is the better option, reviewers say.
FIRE TV STICK WITH ALEXA VOICE REMOTE
Sale Price: $25 | Buy it
Reg. Price: $40 ($15 savings)
If you know someone who's cut the cable cord and is desperate to keep binge-watching their favorite shows, a media streaming device makes a great stocking stuffer. Amazon's Fire TV Stick is already $15 off the regular price and gets great reviews for ease of use (especially the voice-controlled remote, which can be linked to Alexa). You get access not only to the Prime Video library but to popular apps like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now. As with other Amazon media devices, you won't find any apps from rival Google, notably YouTube, but the Fire Stick still offers plenty of entertainment options for very little money.
BLINK XT HOME SECURITY SYSTEM (1 CAMERA)
Sale Price: $79 | Buy it starting Nov. 21
Reg. Price: $130 ($51 savings)
The great thing about the smart home revolution is that it has made some services, such as home security, far more affordable than they once were. The Blink XT is a good starter option in either the single-camera or three-camera configuration, and both come with significant savings during Black Friday. They're weatherproof, making them handy for monitoring a front doorway or backyard, and owners say setup is a cinch. Video and audio quality are good as well, reviewers note, and the system can be expanded up to 10 cameras.
Sale Price: $24 | Buy it starting Nov. 22
Reg. Price: $50 ($26 savings)
Amazon is heavily promoting its entire line of Echo digital home assistants (at prices rival retailers have vowed to match). This Black Friday deal is just over half off the regular price for the entry-level smart speaker that allows you to tap into the world of Alexa. Most owners are fairly satisfied with the Echo Dot, according to reviews. They say its smooth form, swaddled in mesh fabric, doesn't look as out of place on an end table or a kitchen shelf as the puck-like previous model did. It can't match the sound quality of more substantial Alexa devices, but for a smaller room, it's perfect.
TOSHIBA 50" 4K SMART TV
Sale Price: $300 | Buy it starting Nov. 22
Reg. Price: $400 ($100 savings)
There is never a shortage of TV deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but many are for no-name brands and smaller screens. The 50-inch Toshiba 50LF621U19 is available at a healthy 25 percent discount. This model is an Amazon exclusive, with the Fire media browser (the same ecosystem that's on the Fire TV Stick) built in. Most owners say it's a pretty good deal for an ultra-HD TV. As with a lot of cheaper models, the built-in speakers aren't great. But at this price, you could always use the savings to buy a soundbar.
RING VIDEO DOORBELL 2
Sale Price: $140 | Buy it starting Nov. 22
Reg. Price: $199 ($59 savings)
With the Ring Video Doorbell, you can see who's at the door even when you're not home with the tap of an app. Setup is simple, reviewers say, and most appreciate the peace of mind that comes with monitoring their homes through Ring's HD video and audio feed (although some complain that the motion-detection feature doesn't function well and that the video feed is low-quality). For a monthly fee, you can also record video of everyone who rings your bell, an added bit of security.
AMAZON SMART PLUG
Sale Price: $5 | Buy it starting Nov. 22
Reg. Price: $25 ($20 savings)
If Santa is bringing a few Alexa-enabled gifts to your house for Christmas, ask him to bring a few of these, too. Buying any Alexa product activates an 80 percent discount on this smart plug, which can be controlled by any Alexa device. Even better, you can use the Alexa app; no smart-home hub needed. You will need a robust Wi-Fi network, however, and the smart plug works only on the 2.4 GHz band.
AMAZON ECHO (2ND GENERATION)
Sale Price: $69 | Buy it starting Nov. 22
Reg. Price: $99 ($30 savings)
If you're ready to take the leap into the world of home digital assistants and want to go all in, the Echo may be the device to get. This is the latest version of the smart speaker, available in a half-dozen different fabric finishes to fit just about any room decor. It's difficult to find users who have a negative thing to say about the Echo; most reviewers are extremely enthusiastic, calling it "fun," "useful," and "fascinating." Still, some do report problems with setup, while others say the sound quality isn't up to their expectations.
FIRE HD 8 KIDS' EDITION TABLET
Sale Price: $90 | Buy it
Reg. Price: $130 ($40 savings)
If you're ready to introduce your child to digital devices but don't want to subject an expensive tablet to the whims of a sticky-fingered toddler, Amazon's latest-generation Fire tablet for kids is $40 off the regular price for Black Friday ($80 off if you buy two). This "kid-proof" model comes with a thick, protective sleeve that's easy for small hands to grip and tough enough to protect the tablet from being dropped or having juice spilled on it. It's also got robust parental controls, including limits on daily screen time and types of content. While some parents complain that the tablet isn't as speedy as their grown-up gizmos, most say they and their kids love it.
FIRE HD 10 TABLET
Sale Price: $100 | Buy it
Reg. Price: $150 ($50 savings)
Amazon's Fire Tablet is designed to be a media device, not a laptop substitute. Reviewers say it's a far better value than an iPad or Surface if you're a Prime member and use your tablet primarily for streaming movies and TV shows or playing games. Users say it feels fairly solid in the hand, although the plastic shell looks cheap next to the sleek iPad. There's no access to apps from rival Google, like the Chrome browser, Gmail, and YouTube, and the proprietary Silk browser and email are weak substitutes, reviewers say. But for someone who wants to browse the web, read e-books, and stream video, the Fire HD 10 is a good deal made better by a $50 Black Friday discount.
SONY 65" 4K SMART TV
Sale Price: $1,000 | Buy it
Reg. Price: $1,400 ($400 savings)
If you want a really big TV for your home theater, it's hard to beat a screen this size. Reviewers give the 65-inch Sony XBR65X85OF thumbs-up for its rich, saturated colors and crisp picture, and the built-in speakers produce reasonably good sound (although, with nearly all TVs, a good soundbar is a smart addition). A minority of owners say the interface isn't the easiest to use, but overall it gets very solid reviews. This set is Alexa-ready and also supports Google Assistant.
HATCHIMALS HATCHIBABIES CHIPADEE
Sale Price: $49 | Buy it
Reg. Price: $59 ($10 savings)
Hatchimals have been a hot holiday gift for the past two years, and this year the family of interactive toys has expanded with the new HatchiBabies line. Self-hatching eggs reveal a fuzzy and colorful baby Hatchimal, a "birth certificate," and accessories like a bottle and brush. Kids can watch them blink, wiggle, and coo as they play, tickle, and feed them. Fuzzy little Chipadee is an Amazon exclusive.
IROBOT ROOMBA 960
Sale Price: $449 | Buy it
Reg. Price: $700 ($251 savings)
There are cheaper robotic vacuums out there — some quite good — but most reviewers say the Roomba 960 is well worth the extra money. It can navigate a room full of obstacles like furniture and toys and suck up debris equally well on carpet and hard floors. It's also Wi-Fi-enabled, so you can monitor its activity on your phone or control it with Alexa. Most owners say they love their Roombas, although some pet owners note that the vacuum doesn't always keep up with fast-shedding furbabies.