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Black Friday Cheers & Jeers 2008

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Black Friday, the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, has come and gone. As we did last year, dealnews takes a look back at some of last week's biggest doorbusters and biggest failures. We present to you, the Best and Worst of Black Friday 2008.

Cheers: To TV deals. This Black Friday differed from the Black Fridays of yore in two major ways: Name brands, and high-end. The major retailers stuck with name brands (Sony, Samsung, Panasonic), which meant that there were far fewer "no-name" brands (Insignia, Westinghouse, Sceptre) this year. We also saw a surprising number of high-end TVs on sale, with major features like a 120Hz refresh rate. That almost never happens on Black Friday. (Even so, high-end TVs tend to be even cheaper closer to Christmas.)

Cheers: To 6th Avenue Electronics, since we're speaking of TV deals. 6ave.com's Black Friday TV deals came earlier than Black Friday and were the best overall. Of course, that meant that on Black Friday itself, the TV deals didn't sing quite so loudly, because the deals over the few days before had been so amazingly good.

While we're on it, Fry's Electronics gets a cheer too. Granted, some of its TV deals were repeats of deals we'd already seen in October. They were still best-of-class, though. But Fry's deal on the Samsung 32" 720p LCD HDTV for $388 was the single most popular TV deal on Black Friday.

Jeers: To laptop deals. The existence of the netbook, which starts at $250, was the bane of Black Friday shoppers looking for a good laptop deal. Retailers pushed netbooks because their low price points have "doorbuster" written all over them. So there were much fewer 15.4" or 17" laptops steeply discounted on Black Friday.

Cheers: To Best Buy, whose Black Friday doorbusters were online. All of them. If you didn't check dealnews first and went to a store to buy them ... well, we're sure that the exercise was good for you. Walmart had its Black Friday doorbusters online, too.

Jeers: To OfficeMax and Target, for having precious few Black Friday deals available online. Making people go to your stores for Black Friday doorbusters? How 2006!

Cheers: To Walmart and Best Buy for posting their Black Friday ads earlier this year. Walmart posted its ad last Monday — a full 17 hours before it had in 2007. Best Buy posted its ad early too, on Tuesday morning instead of Tuesday evening.

Jeers: To Target for waiting until Thanksgiving Day to post its official Black Friday ad. It was the last major store to do so. Last is bad.

Jeers: To sites that were down on Black Friday:

Eforcity was down for 30 minutes on Black Friday, and then, when it was back, everything was out of stock almost instantly. Froobi was down nearly all of Black Friday, and when it was back up, all of its Black Friday deals were gone.

We also have Cyber Monday jeers for J.Crew and Bloomingdale's, whose websites went down for a portion of Cyber Monday.

Cheers: To Sony, which undercut all of its resellers to offer its highly-rated Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Player for $150 with free shipping.

Jeers: To Dell, for its Xbox 360 Arcade / Rock Band 2 bundle. Dell never disclosed what you were buying: The whole shebang, with drum set? Just Rock Band 2 with a guitar? Or even the game alone? We hope it wasn't the game alone, since Rock Band 2 without a guitar is like a Dell laptop without a built-in CPU.

Jeers: To Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes. He's the fellow who garnered national press for predicting a huge Black Friday sale from The Apple Store, including a $100 iPhone and an $800 MacBook. In truth? No iPhone, and the MacBook wasn't even close. Of course, the Apple Store itself deserves a jeer for very mediocre Black Friday deals. However, it wasn't Apple overhyping its sale. Hey Mr. Reitzes? Analyze THIS!

Jeers: Thumbs down to Circuit City, who despite its bankruptcy status, offered several mail-in rebate promotions.

Cheers: To the dealnews Staff, who gave up their Thanksgiving weekend to hunt down deals, who worked 24/7 all week long, and who kept dealnews.com up and running smoothly despite record traffic.

And lastly, we are disturbed beyond words by those Long Island Walmart shoppers who fatally trampled a store employee and injured others as the store opened its doors Friday morning.

Compiled by the editors and writers at dealnews who kept the deals slingin' throughout the holiday season.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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