It takes quick decision-making to get the best deals on Black Friday. Read on for product-specific advice from experts at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) to help you be a smart shopper - in a hurry.
HDTVs Vizio E3D470VX Smart TV
- TVs aren't just TVs anymore. If your family loves online content like watching Netflix or shows on Hulu, you may want to consider investing in a smart TV. These advanced sets offer a slew of extra features, including Internet browsing, Skyping with a built-in webcam, games, streaming video and more.
- Wondering if it's worth the money to spring for a 1080p TV? If you're planning to get a set that's 32 inches or smaller, you probably won't notice the difference; 720p should do the trick in that case. For anything larger, or if anyone in your family is a gamer, 1080p is likely worth the investment.
- LCD TVs that offer LED backlighting will display dark scenes better. LCDs in general offer brighter picture and are more energy efficient, while plasma sets are great for lots of motion and action.
- A high refresh rate will mean better picture. The typical refresh rate is 60 Hertz (Hz), but some sets now go up to 120 Hz, 240 Hz, or even 480 Hz. While 120 is a worthy upgrade over 60, you likely won't be able to perceive a difference beyond that.
- Be sure to check the number and types of inputs you'll need before you head to the store. To do so, note the connections your cable box, DVD player, video-game consoles, computer, or anything else you may want to hook up to the TV.
- Don't give in to the hard sell on HDMI. You'll certainly want one if you have a Blu-ray player or other HD-input device with the right connector, but don't just assume you'll need an HDMI cable with your HDTV.
Food ProcessorsCuisinart Prep 9 Food Processor
- Don't buy a super-large model unless you regularly cook for a crowd. However, it is worth stepping up from a mini chopper as a food processor also allows you to slice and shred.
- Look for a model that comes with a box to hold the accessories. It's easy for them to get lost in a cupboard, and keeping them in a box keeps the blades from getting dulled and you from getting cut.
- Avoid buying a food processor without a pulse feature. It can be a valuable tool to prevent over-processing.
- Look for a unit with a feed tube in the front - it will be much more intuitive to use.
Sewing Machines Brother SQ-9000 Sewing Machine
- You don't need to spend thousands of dollars to get a good machine; most models will get the job done. Price differences come into play more when it comes to ease of use, high-end automatic features, and getting the right tension for a specific fabric.
- Look to see what accessories come standard with the machine. It may make a huge price difference if you need to buy a lot of extras after the fact.
- Consider what features you'll be using. Is top speed a priority, or maybe automatic needle threading? Many sewing machines come with a lot of features and functions, so figure out which ones are relevant to you.
- If you're familiar with one brand of sewing machine, you'll most likely be familiar with a different model of the same brand - most companies stick to similar threading, bobbing winding, and controls across all their models.
LaptopsDell XPS 13 Ultrabook
- No need to choose between portability, price, and performance anymore. The latest class of ultrabooks offers plenty of power and each system weighs in at less than three pounds.
- Don't shell out for extra gigabytes of memory. Unless you are running multiple memory-intense applications simultaneously, you should be fine with the 4GB that is standard with most new laptops.
- Skip the optical drive unless you're really attached to your CD collection. So much is downloadable nowadays that you'll quickly find you won't even miss it!
- Make like Goldilocks and find the screen size that is right for you. For a lightweight laptop, opt for a 10- to 12-inch model. Up to 14 inches is still plenty portable, but 14- to 16-inch systems are better for productivity on the go. Only opt for a 17- to 18-inch laptop if it won't leave your desk; the larger screen real estate will be great for movies, photo editing, or games.
Kitchen Knives Chicago Cutlery Fusion 8-Inch Chef's Knife
- If you're starting from scratch, consider a knife set. You'll save money over individual knives and they generally come with a block for storage. Be sure the set includes essentially pieces of cutlery for your cooking regimen, like a chef's knife, a long serrated bread knife, and a 4-5 inch utility knife.
- For a piece of cutlery that will last, consider investing in a knife with a forged blade. They're stronger for tough cutting jobs and will feel sturdier in your hand. Knives with a full tang (a blade that is made of a single piece of metal that runs all the way through the knife handle) tend to offer the best control too.
- Look at the design before you pick out your set. If you tend to mince by rocking the knife instead of lifting it, a curved blade will make the job easier and help with finer tasks. And a bolster (a thickening of the blade at the handle end) balances out the weight and gives you a place to hold if you prefer a pinch grip.
- Don't leave the store without getting a feel for the knife. Find a length you're comfortable with and make sure the grip feels good in your hand. Also check to see how the weight feels; you want a knife that's sturdy enough to cut through bones and root vegetables but, at the same time, not so heavy that it will tire out your hand.
- Know the depth of your mattress before shopping and look at the dimensions of the sheets. Most sheets are cut a little larger to fit over pillowtop and deeper mattresses and you'll want to allow a little extra room for shrinking in the wash.
- If you're particular about your sheets not pilling, stay away from flannel and jersey sets. Sateen and percale are more likely to stay pristine.
- Looking for cotton sheets? Be sure to check the fiber blend before buying. Many sheet sets are actually combinations, such as polyester and cotton.
- If you like a little sheen to your sheets look for sateen. The weave offers a little more luster than standard percale.
- Don't automatically assume the higher the thread count, the better. You'll find great sheets with counts between 400-600 and save money over higher count brands.
Our favorite sale sheets: The Company Store 450TC Wrinkle-Free ($142-$232), Garnett Hill Hemstitched Supima Flannel ($97-$148, twin to king), Walmart Mainstays Jersey ($24, twin to queen)
For more great pointers to find the best digital cameras, coffeemakers, power tools, and more, be sure to read up on the rest of our expert Black Friday shopping tips. And for more great product recommendations, tested by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, check out our top Black Friday sale picks.
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