Black Friday Tablet Deals: Wait in Line or Stay in Bed?

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Toshiba, Sylvania, Samsung, Lenovo

Office Depot: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 for $299.99

Lenovo’s K1 is chunkier than some other high-end 10-inch tablets, and I’m not a fan of its custom interface that slaps huge buttons in the middle of the screen, but it does have a full-sized USB port and HDMI output, plus 32 GB of storage in the Black Friday sale model. If you mainly plan to load your tablet up with music and video files, the K1 will get you there for cheap. Otherwise, save your money for something better.

$200 Blackberry Playbook at Staples, Office Depot and Best Buy

Once again, Research in Motion’s Blackberry Playbook tablet has fallen in price, this time to $200 for the 16 GB model. The Playbook experience has improved somewhat since the tablet launched in April, thanks to bug fixes and a slow-but-steady stream of new apps, but it won’t be getting native e-mail and calendar programs until February, and its app ecosystem simply doesn’t compare to the iPad or Android. If you can deal with those major downsides, the Playbook provides a solid design and a cool swipe-based interface for moving around whatever go-to apps you can find. Best Buy has already lowered the price, but you don’t have to rush this decision, as the price cut is in effect until at least December 3, according to VentureBeat.

Staples: Acer Iconia A500 for $299

The A500 is a thick slab of Android Honeycomb with 10-inch display and a full-sized USB port. It’s not a terrible device, but there’s nothing remarkable about it either. I’d shoot for the Asus Transformer or the Lenovo K1 instead.

Cheap Tablets Everywhere

Looking through the list of Black Friday tablet deals on sites like and, I see a lot of budget Android tablets from obscure manufacturers, such as Sylvania’s 7-inch tablet for $79 or Coby’s 7-inch tablet for $99. In general, you get what you pay for with these super-cheap tablets, but in particular, steer clear of any tablets that have less than a 1 GHz processor and less than 512 MB of RAM, that run anything lower than Android 2.2, that have resistive touch screens instead of capacitive ones, and that don’t have access to the Android Market. Otherwise, you’re going to have a bad experience.

MORE: Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire: A Guide to Decide

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