Picking the right place to buy electronics can give you a headache, rapidly.
There are a million different model numbers, screen sizes, processor speeds, accessories and on and on. Plus, the holidays have stores unleashing a torrent of discounts, deals and specials.
Rather than pick a favorite store, we offer five things to know about a few of the biggest electronics retailers.
Today's tips are the latest installment of our "Countdown to Black Friday." Every day, you'll find five helpful tips on a topic related to Black Friday on TBO.com, from top toys to electronics buying guidelines to suiting up for battle on the big day.
Here's what you need to know about these big retailers.
1. Target is handing out free money. The mass merchant for everything from toothpaste to HDTVs will give you a $40 gift card when you purchase an iPad2 – a good deal since Apple fixes its prices at all retailers at the same level.
And Target will give credit for many electronics trade-ins through the NextWorth company. For instance, $1 for an iPod Shuffle, $12 for a Garmin Nuvi GPS and $25 for an Xbox 360. Check online for trade-ins at target.nextworth.com to find out how much yours could be worth.
2 . You'll get a lot of attention at hhgregg. Whether you like it or not. The electronics superstore opened in the Tampa Bay market recently with a big splash. Here's the secret. Their sales people are paid 100 percent on commission. If you don't buy something, they don't get paid.
So you can expect lots of friendly smiles and attention while strolling the aisles.
3 – BestBuy matches prices aggressively. BestBuy doesn't formally negotiate on price, but they'll match other retailer prices.
Plus, if you plunk down a bunch of money on something, BestBuy will guarantee they still have the lowest price from Nov. 13 to Jan. 24. That means they'll give you $100 back if Walmart drops its price by $100 on what you bought.
One exception, Black Friday and Cyber Monday prices. Though the company won't officially match prices with online merchants, it can't hurt to bring in the best online price you can find to see what you can negotiate.
4 – Amazon is the go-to site for a price check. The online retailer is perhaps the best place for a reality check on prices and models. It's also a fairly simple way to filter results for things like HDTVs based on screen size, type, brand, etc.
But our favorite feature is the bar code scanner for your smartphone. Download the "Price Check" app on your phone, then scan the code on virtually any product and Amazon will produce their best price – often 10 percent or so less than retail stores.
We found the same Samsung HDTV (46", LED, 1080p, 240hz, 3D) for $426 less on Amazon than on HSN.com and BestBuy.com.
5. Macy's electronics vending machine. This is not a joke. Say you find yourself looking for an iPad or a Nikon SLR camera in late December and, whoops, everywhere is out of stock.
Near the entrance of Macy's in Westshore Plaza mall is an oddity that might just save your day: A vending machine for electronics that sells cameras, tablets, MP3 players and lots of other gizmos. Macy's installed them in select stores several years ago, and like all things electronics "It's already huge in Japan."
Check back everyday on TBO.com over the next two weeks to follow our "Countdown to Black Friday" features. Tomorrow we present the best gaming system deals.