The Bestologist's BFFs (Black Friday Favorites)

After looking through many Black Friday ads, here's a brief list of some of the more compelling values that I've found.

I-Inc 28" LCD Monitor.  $249 at TigerDirect shipped.  This I-Inc is a 28" 1920x1200 LCD monitor with HDMI (and VGA) connections.  Most 1920x1200 monitors are 24", so relatively speaking, everything on this 28" monitor will appear a bit bigger.  The larger size is great if you want to use the monitor occasionally to watch movies, or if you're finding your eyes are helped by slightly larger text.  It may be an "off brand", but the I-Inc monitor has been consistently well-reviewed by end users -- there are many hundreds of positive reviews on TigerDirect's website.  The I-Inc is nearly identical to the similarly well-regarded Hanns-G 28" monitor, which gets the same good reviews.  One of the few obvious differences is that I-Inc monitor has a matte black finish, whereas the Hanns-G has a glossy black finish (NewEgg had a Black Friday special on the Hanns-G for $259, but it's now sold out).  It's worth noting that most "HD" monitors these days use a cheaper 16:9 1920x1080 aspect ratio LCD panel.  Personally, I appreciate the extra bit of vertical resolution that this 16:10 1920x1200 I-Inc monitor affords you, particularly when working in a word processor.

iHome Clock Radio & Audio System for iPod -- Model IH9B6R The list price is $99.99, but it's on sale at MacMall for $69.99.  Though the iHome brand isn't household name, the IHRB6R is a surprisingly good sounding clock radio with iPod/iPhone docking.  It has a very balanced (i.e., neutral) frequency response, which is pretty unusual at this price point.  Vocals come through with good clarity and naturalness.  High frequency extension is quite good as well.  Given the size of the unit, you shouldn't expect deep bass, nor should you expect the unit to play very loudly, but it sounds great for the price.  In fact, I think it's probably the best iPod-docking clock radio anywhere near it's discounted price.  (

Altec-Lansing Orbit Ultra-Portable Speaker System.  The list price on the Orbit is a way-too-high $39.99, but at $9.99, it's a great deal.  The Orbit is a small round mono speaker designed to be plugged into an MP3 player via a 3.5mm mini-phone stereo jack (make sure you check your MP3 player's headphone jack to make sure it's the right size).  The Orbit runs on AAA batteries.  As is the case for the iHome unit above, it has an unusually balanced frequency response (I find most speaker systems at this price point completely unlistenable).  You'll be pleased with the clarity of it's sound.  The Orbit is small, so don't expect much bass or volume, but it's still great for providing pleasing background music.  Think of it as the sort of speaker you might pull out of your desk drawer for late night listening, or the sort of speaker you might keep in your travel bag for use in a hotel room.  I do have one peeve about the unit -- to operate the on/off switch, you have to twist the speaker in an opposite direction from the base, and on my unit, I found this requires an unnatural amount of force.  (

Samsung SL30 Digital Camera.  $49 at Fry's Electronics.  Ok, I don't have firsthand experience with this digital camera, but I will say that I haven't seen another mainstream-brand digital camera near this price (unless you consider Vivitar mainstream).  The camera gets better-than-decent reviews around the web.  This could be a good camera for the kids -- it's very cheap, and yet, it's a "real" camera that's several steps in quality above what dimples calls "Barbie" cameras.  The SL30 appears only to be available in-store:

Canon Rebel XS with 18-55is lens.  $399 at Fry's Electronics.  This is a great little DSLR.  Its 10.1 megapixels is plenty for most people.  It has very good low-light performance, as is typical these days for DSLRs.  The included 18-55is lens is really quite good for a consumer-grade (i.e., non-pro) kit lens, and it's image-stabilized to boot.  At $399, you're getting a DSLR quality of photos for not a whole lot more than the cost of an upper end compact digital camera.

Canon PowerShot S90.  $379.95 (and no tax!) at Samy's Camera.  If you've read our review of the Canon S90, you know how much we like this little camera.  It's an incredible price, but here's the bad news -- it appears to be available only in store, so only those in SoCal will likely partake.  Samy's website shows a higher price.  You might try their mail order number (888) 726-9722 though.

HP P1005 monochrome laser printer.  $49 at Staples.  This isn't an unprecedented price for this unit, but we've only seen it a couple times before (in fact, Amazon currently has it for a relatively close $59.94).  It's a half-decent entry-level printer that's good enough for light-duty work.  One thing I like about it is that it's very compact and doesn't take up a lot of desk space.  For those of you with only an inkjet printer, getting a cheap monochrome laser printer like this one is a good way to save some money on those brutally expensive inkjet cartridges you're always having to purchase.

Brother MFC-7340 All-in-One Printer/Fax/Scanner/Copier.  $99 after rebate at Staples.  I really like this all-in-one.  It works well -- it has good copy quality, a document feeder that doesn't jam too often (btw, all ADFs jam, so jamming not-too-often is a good thing), and adequate scan quality (though I wouldn't use it as your main photo scanner).  It comes with a verison of PaperPort document management software, which I think is a quite useable software package  -- it helps organize everything you scan into folders (you'll see that PaperPort reviews are quite mixed, or even bad, but that's not been my experience).  Together with PaperPort, the MFC-7340 has been great for getting all me organized for tax time.  I don't have to manually hunt for 1099s and W2s and so forth in my files --  I just scan the tax docs as they come in the mail; after that, they're only a click away.