Best Black Friday 2018 deals: Business Bargain Hunter's top picks

If you're going to get the most out of this shopping extravaganza, you might as well do it right.

It's that time of year again.

Your feeds are cluttered with deal posts. Your local stores are inundating you with sale ads. Commercials are hawking wares to festive tunes. It's the holidays, and with that comes huge mark downs across retail, especially on Black Friday.

Also: Best Black Friday deals 2018 CNET

Though the specific day -- and its infamous incidents (trampled customers, fistfights over sale items, etc.) -- has lost its singular cachet, the idea of Black Friday as the time to grab the best deals of the year has become firmly entrenched in the mind of the consumer.

To help you wade through the chaos and suss out the real deals, we've combed through all the Black Friday ads for you and compiled this rundown of all the basic information you need to do holiday shopping the right way. Think of this as a 101 guide to Black Friday in 2018.

Best Black Friday 2018 deals: Retailers

Amazon

Amazon gave ZDNet a sneak peek at the deals it has planned for its own devices over the next couple weeks. Everything from Fire TV Cube to Echo Show will be on sale.

SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

Amazon is also running a new promo scheme called "Seven Days of Black Friday Deals."

The promo starts Nov. 16 and will run through Black Friday on Nov. 23. It includes the hottest tech from many manufacturers and will feature more than 50 deals per day throughout the week. Expect to see sales across every category, including smart office and smart home.

SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

Amazon is also giving Alexa customers early access to tons of deals from Nov. 18 to Nov. 21.To get started, say, "Alexa, what are my deals?" or visit Amazon.com/voiceshopping.

Best Buy

Best Buy will open at 5pm local time on Thanksgiving and stay open until 1am on Friday, Nov. 23. Doors will reopen at 8am on Black Friday. Select deals are already live now through Sunday, Nov. 11. For all other online deals, prices are valid through Saturday, Nov. 24.

SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

BJ's Wholesale

BJ's will be closed Thanksgiving Day but plans to open back up on Black Friday from 7am to 9pm local time. The following deals are valid both in-store and online for that day:

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Costco

    Costco will close its doors on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving and reopen at 9am local time on Black Friday. Many of Costco's deals will be available both in stores and online -- though some are exclusively online.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    eBay

    eBay is now offering a "Better than Black Friday" sale, where it claims to match or beat competitors' advertised Black Friday prices. It plans to release a new round of deals every day at 5am PT until Nov. 18. So, you'll want to keep checking back to see what's new.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Jet

    Jet posted its Black Friday preview, with sales starting Nov. 21 at 10pm ET. Some of the online-only deals start as early as Nov. 21, though the main Black Friday sale kicks off Nov. 22 at 12:01am ET. Here's a look at some of the best bargains we've spotted.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Newegg

    Newegg is online only -- it has no retail shops. Some of its deals are already live and are limited-time only. Many other promotions don't start until Nov. 20, while others begin on Black Friday. We've included information about start and end dates where possible.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Office Depot and Office Max

    Office Depot and OfficeMax stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but it will do online sales from 12:01am ET Thanksgiving Day and in-store at 8am local time on Friday, Nov. 23. If you're looking for a laptop, desktop, printer, tablet, computer desk, office chair, or any other type of office product, this should be the first place you shop.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Sam's Club

    Sam's Club, which is owned by Walmart, is a members-only warehouse club, and this Black Friday, it doesn't disappoint with its deals on the hottest tech. Its sale will start online at 12:01am ET on Nov. 23, while in-stores sales won't begin until 7am ET.

    The prices you'll see are valid until Nov. 25 or until supplies last. Sam's Club is also offering a "Early Access" event from Nov. 15 to Nov. 18. You can shop that sale here.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Staples

    For Black Friday, most of the discounted prices below should be available on Thanksgiving Day, and picked up or purchased in-store starting at 7am local time on Friday Nov. 23.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Target

    The retailer's doors open at 5pm on Thanksgiving and close that night at 1am. Then it will reopen on Black Friday, Nov. 23, at 7am. Online prices are valid through Saturday, Nov. 24.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Walmart

    Walmart's store event kicks off at 6pm local time on Thanksgiving, and the online deals start at 10pm ET on Wednesday, Nov. 21. Prices are valid through Friday, Nov. 23 while supplies last.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Wellbots

    See it now: Wellbots Black Friday 2018 sale hub

    Wellbots.com is online-only site for all things IoT related. Here are some exclusive Black Friday 2018 deals it is offering ZDNet readers this holiday season:

    Best Black Friday 2018 deals: Vendors

    Google Store

    Google and Google-owned Nest have announced a bunch of deals that will extend through Cyber Monday, with some sales starting as early as Nov. 18. You may have noticed but these same discounts will be available from other retailers, including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Dell

    As usual, Dell's online Black Friday specials features the full breadth of Dell's product line, with the best deals usually coming as "doorbusters" that are only available for a limited time.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Lenovo

    Lenovo's Black Friday sale will see hourly sales starting at midnight on Thanksgiving and continuing through 8pm local time on Black Friday.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Microsoft Store

    The Microsoft Store is one of the best places to buy Microsoft devices and software online -- whether you're looking for a Microsoft Surface tablet, an Xbox gaming console, or something else. And this year is no exception. It even has deals on devices from other manufacturers.

    Expect the Black Friday sale to go live at midnight (EST) on Thanksgiving.

    SEE MORE BEST DEALS HERE:

    Best Black Friday 2018 deals: Product categories

    The deals below are current as of Nov. 9, and include Target,amazon, and Best Buy.

    Windows laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets

    SEE CNET FOR THE FULL LIST OF BEST DEALS:

    iPhones and smartphones

    GO HEREFOR THE FULL LIST OF BEST DEALS:

    When is Black Friday?

    Nov. 23, 2018: As always, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, but that hasn't stopped retailers from using turkey day to get a head start on the festivities (though not without a backlash from some stores and shoppers).

    Also: Best Holiday gifts 2018 CNET

    When will the first Black Friday ads appear?

    Among computer/electronics retailers, Dell has jumped the gun over the last few years with its ads (both consumer and small business), which "typically leak" right around Nov. 1. Last year some deals from them started almost immediately. You'll usually see ads from the big boys -- Best Buy, Target, and Walmart -- made public about a week later.

    Also: Best TVs to give for the holidays CNET

    Where can I get the best deals on Apple products on Black Friday?

    Apple has been notoriously stingy when it comes to any kind of sales on its products in general, and not even the yearly mania around Black Friday gets it to budge much. In fact, the tech giant abandoned discounts at its Apple Stores on Black Friday years ago, only attempting to entice shoppers with free iTunes gift cards with iPhone, iPad, and Mac purchases.

    Also: The do's and don'ts of giving holiday gifts to your coworkers TechRepublic

    It's a tactic that other Apple partners have adopted as well -- you're now much more likely to get a store gift card from Target and Walmart when you purchase an Apple product than any kind of savings from the normal price. You'll generally need to rely on retailers like MacMall and B&H Photo for actual deals, particularly on MacBooks.

    How cheap will laptops be on Black Friday?

    Chromebooks helped usher in the era of the $100 PC, forcing Microsoft to respond by slashing the price it charged manufacturers to license Windows in order to stay competitive in the budget market. That seems to be the floor for the cost of a new computer, though you may see one or two deals for $89 systems. Of course, at this price point, you are getting the barest of specs -- no HD screen, 2GB of RAM, a minimalamount of built-in storage, a slower processor -- that can handle Internet browsing and basic productivity tasks.

    Also: Photos: Cool gifts for bosses to buy for employees TechRepublic

    For an additional $100 to $200, you should be able to locate a deal on a more powerful computer with a few better specs that won't require as many compromises.

    How will I know if I got a good deal on Black Friday?

    There definitely will be a handful of legitimately great prices on items during this extended shopping period, often as a "doorbuster" special that may be available in limited quantities or for a short window of time. But despite retailers' promises to the contrary, Black Friday prices aren't always the best of the year. In fact, product review site Wirecutter recently pointed out that of the more than 78,000 deals it tracked for Black Friday 2017, only about 450 were worth highlighting.

    A big reason for that can be found if you look closely at how the percentage off figures trumpeted in Black Friday ads are calculated. You may notice that stores use the original or list price as the starting point, but that often isn't the price they are currently using to sell a product. For instance, a desktop PC may have an original price of $399, so its $249 Black Friday sale price looks like a pretty significant discount. However, if that desktop is being sold for $279 in the weeks running up to holiday shopping, it's a lot less impressive.

    Also: A guide to tech and non-tech holiday gifts to buy online TechRepublic

    This tactic is fairly widespread, so you need to do your homework before succumbing to Black Friday fever. We can help you determine the real deals and not-so-real ones as we report on the major tech retailers' ads as they are leaked. Make sure to come back to ZDNet often during the coming weeks to find out what the best sales will be for Black Friday 2018.


    For more great deals on devices, gadgetry, and technology for your enterprise, business, or home office, see ZDNet's Business Bargain Hunter blog. Affiliate disclosure: ZDNet earns commission from the products and services featured on this page.

    Previous and related coverage:

    Great gifts: 5 best TV streaming devices of 2018

    Yes, you can buy a TV with streaming, but internet TV streaming devices are still a great deal. Here are this year's best to consider for your viewing pleasure.

    Work and play: Our picks for the holiday's best tech gifts

    In work and play, do you always give it your best? Then you probably want to give the best gifts, too, right? We've got your covered.

    Best gifts: 20 luxury gadgets for the billionaire who has everything

    Money may not be able to buy you happiness -- but it certainly can provide you with some crazy technology and gadgets. Here are some of our favorite luxury gifts.

    Best gifts: Top iPhone XS or XS Max accessories

    Here are the very best accessories to help you get the most from your new iPhone.