There are some good deals out there for Black Friday. But maybe what’s on sale isn’t what you really want. Some people buy what’s on sale even if it’s not exactly what they — or the people they’re buying gifts for — want. I am not one of those people. So this guide is for everybody out there who doesn’t like to settle.
I’m not the biggest gamer, so I have no idea what gaming stuff you should buy. For that, check my colleague Jeff Grubb’s guide on gaming gear.
But I do have some suggestion for laptops, phones, tablets, and software. Here goes.
If you’re looking at Windows, take a look at Lenovo’s Yoga 910. It’s legit. The base model goes for $1,299. Another good choice is HP’s redesigned 13-inch Spectre x360, which starts at $1,050. The new Surface Book with Core i7, starting at $2,399, also looks impressive.
If you’re more of a Mac than a PC, do take a look at the refreshed MacBook Pro. Yes, it is expensive. But I am typing this article on one now, and I’m having a wonderful time. Could the keyboard have more travel? Yes. Should there be more ports? Of course. But overall, it’s an excellent machine. Expect to pay extra for dongles. If you can live without the Touch Bar, the base model starting at $1,499 may be a good place to start; you can upgrade the chip, RAM, and storage. Otherwise, you’ll pay at least $1,799.
If Chromebooks aren’t out of consideration, then you should take a look at HP’s $499 Chromebook 13. Just be aware that HP plans to bring touch support to that device, so it might not be the best bet for those who are newly interested in Chrome OS because of its support for the Google Play Store.
On the Android side, my favorite phone of the year is the Pixel, starting at $649. The larger Pixel XL offers a better display and more battery life.
On iOS, the dual cameras really are great on the iPhone 7 Plus, which costs $769 and up. Just be prepared for the lack of a headphone jack.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro ($599) is great when you use it with the Smart Keyboard ($149) and Apple Pencil ($99).
As for Android tablets, nothing released this year really jumps out.
If music is your thing and you have a Mac or iOS device, then you should check out Roli Blocks ($180). It’s a drum machine that hooks up with an external device and shows colors based on how and where you strike it. There’s an iOS app, and on Mac you can use software like GarageBand, which really expands the device’s capabilities.
If you’ve never bought a Chromecast and you have a 4K TV, buy the new Chromecast Ultra ($69).
Apple Music, which costs $9.99 a month, is now a consistently good music streaming service, particularly on iOS and macOS Sierra, following the refresh earlier this year.