The retail sales battle lines have been drawn: Black Friday is upon us. Some deals will be genuinely rare and valuable, while others will simply be normal discounts dressed up in Black Friday camouflage.
Distinguishing between the two will be fairly difficult, but you can cut through some of the false signals by properly establishing your targets early on. If you're thinking of snagging the latest and greatest tablet, we've devised a short list to make composing your battle plan a little easier.
GOOD: Amazon Fire HDX (8.9-inch, 16GB, Wi-Fi version $379)
You might be under the impression that Amazon is just good at producing e-book readers, but the company's tablets are strong competitors as well. Following the Kindle Fire HD, and the Kindle Fire before that, the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 has finally matured into a device that doesn't require you to accept an unreasonable number of compromises when compared to the rest of the tablets on the market.
Deal Alert: Amazon.com briefly offered a $140 discount on last year's model just days before Black Friday, so keep your eyes peeled — they may offer yet another soon.
BETTER: Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10.5-inch, 16GB, Wi-Fi version, $499.99)
After the iPad, there's really only one true runner-up: Samsung's Galaxy Tab S, the Android-powered tablet offered by South Korea's electronics powerhouse. Running Android 4.4 "KitKat," the tablet, which won our Mash Choice award earlier this year, is what you want if you're not a fan of the iOS app ecosystem, and want the most robust alternative universe of tablet apps.
Deal Alert: Samsung has knocked $100 off the 10.5-inch 16GB version of the tablet for Black Friday, making it available for just $399.99 (from Nov. 23 to Dec. 1).
BEST: Apple iPad Air 2 (9.7-inch, 16GB, Wi-Fi version, $499)
There are a number of tablets on the market that may suit your particular use, but if you're a complete tablet newbie, the iPad Air 2 is the easy choice to bring you or the one you're gifting onto the fast lane of tablet computing.
Inside the tablet, which is even thinner than its predecessor at just 6.1 millimeters, is a new, more powerful A8X chip and a better Retina display (2,048 x 1,536 resolution, 3.1 million pixels). The new version of the iPad Air also includes Apple's popular Touch ID security feature, a biometric gateway that will protect your device from even the cleverest device snoopers.
As you can see from our list, the iPad isn't the only option, but for now, it's the best.
Deal Alert: iPad Air 2 for $489 at Walmart.
Tags: APPS AND SOFTWARE, BLACK FRIDAY, DEV - DESIGN, DEV & DESIGN, FIRE HDX, GADGETS, GALAXY TAB S, IPAD, MOBILE, SAMSUNG, TABLETS, Tech