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What Tom's Hardware is Shopping for on Black Friday 2019

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Black Friday isn’t just one day; it’s an entire holiday deals season that starts in mid-November and goes well into December. And while we’re also supposed to be buying gifts for friends and relatives, we’re also shopping for ourselves (if you know someone who buys $1,500 gaming PCs for their friends, please introduce me to them).  This is a great time to buy those last few components you need to complete your system, to splurge on a brand new laptop or to just stock up on cable, adapters and memory cards.

At Tom’s Hardware, we are hard at work finding the best Black Friday tech deals overall, the best SSD deals and even the top CPU deals. While we’re at it, we’re also keeping an eye out for the products on our own shopping lists. Here’s what each of us is looking for this holiday season. 

 Avram Piltch, Editor-in-Chief 

It has been a very expensive year for me personally. So, for myself, I’m mostly looking for smaller items that will help fill out my tech life rather than game-changers.

  • A laptop bag. My current backpack was always too small to carry all the review products I need to ferry between home and work and now it has gotten ratty too (my bad for disposing of chewed gum in the front pocket). I’m hoping to find something that’s professional and stylish, but also has really good padding for protecting my laptop.
  • A Raspberry Pi screen. My son and I are always doing Pi projects and, for the best of them, we need tiny 3.5-inch or 4-inch displays. These are typically more than $30, particularly if you want good quality so any savings here is good.
  • A lightweight power bank with USB-PD for charging my laptop. My ThinkPad X1 Carbon gets pretty good battery life, but it may not be good enough to make it through a long day at the CES tradeshow.
  • A speedy 1TB M.2 SSD. My laptop’s 512GB drive is getting a little too close to full for my comfort. If I can find a great deal on a 1TB replacement, I may pull the trigger.
  • Components for a future build. This isn’t urgent, but I’m slowly cobbling together the parts to my build my son his first desktop. I already have desktop storage and RAM, but if I see a fantastic deal on a motherboard, CPU, GPU, case or PSU, I’ll consider it.

Matt Safford, Managing Editor 

My 2016-era Asus Zenbook is starting to show its age. Its battery life is significantly shorter than it once was, the bezels around the screen are massive by late 2019 standards, and I’m sick and tired of carrying around a proprietary charger rather than the same USB-C cable that I use to charge my phone.

  • A New Ultrabook. I love my DIY gaming/media creation rig, but I travel for trade shows and press events, and often spend several weeks a year in Scotland. So I need a reasonably powerful, lightweight laptop that I can rely on. I also have a habit of forgetting to close browser tabs, so I’d like an ultrabook with 16GB of RAM this time around. I’d be happy to find a great deal on a Lenovo X1 Carbon or an XPS 13, but given how much those systems cost when well outfitted, I would not be surprised if I wound up with another comparatively affordable Zenbook.

 Anj Bryant, Asst. Managing Editor 

I’m one of those people who does not buy a lot of things throughout the year but eagerly awaits Black Friday to hunt for good deals. This year, I am in search of a few items that are practical and useful for my daily work and home life.

  • Wireless in-ear headphones. I like the freedom of not always being tied to my desk. I want headphones that can simultaneously connect to my phone, laptop, and desktop so I can accept calls or join meetings on whichever device I am currently using. Noise-cancelling and long battery life are musts.
  • Wireless mechanical keyboard. I love my Hexgears Impulse. It is the best keyboard I have ever used, but it never hurts to have an extra keyboard to use as a backup or to change things up, and if I find a good deal, then why not. It does not need to have RGB but must be full-size. (I need my 10-key number pads!)
  • UPS Battery Backup. Power outages have become more and more common these days, especially with the California wildfires. I always need to safeguard my work and my work gear. My APC UPS died a few months ago and I have not had a chance to get a replacement.

Scharon Harding, Senior Editor

Black Friday deals mean I don’t have to feel guilty about spending money on myself. But I’m still trying to shop savvy. So this year, I’m searching for things that’ll actually come in handy, especially for traveling.

  • External SSD. Over the past few years I’ve done a good amount of traveling, and that means a lot of pictures of interesting landscapes, striking sculptures, “me in front of this building” and maybe even some bad selfies with my travel companions. As such, I’ve finally run through my free cloud backup solutions, and let’s just say I’m not eager to commit to monthly spending to access my own memories.
  • Wireless mouse. The Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 at my home office is cute with a slick wheel and convenient receiver storage compartment, plus it was free (the best deal of all). But after reviewing some more advanced mice this year, including the Logitech MX Master 3 with six buttons, I wouldn’t mind getting my paws on something with more functionality and programmable buttons.
  • Portable monitor. When on-the-go, my main computer is a 13-inch ultraportable. That’s fine for surfing the web before bed, but if I need to do any work involving more than three windows or spreadsheets, things start feeling cramped. An affordable portable display will help me boost productivity so I can finish work and get back to lounging.

Thomas Soderstrom, Senior Editor

I’m all set when it comes to my PCs, but there is one thing I’m after this Black Friday: more storage.

  • Backup Storage. I’m just too old fashioned to rely on my internet connection to deliver terabytes of old review material, videos, test system images and so forth. Knowing that no backup medium is perfect, I even have backups of my backups. And it’s all full. Last year’s storage deals were too good to pass up, so I bought a 1TB pocket drive. But that only covered spill-over, and as I look at all my other backup media, I can only conclude that I could use about three more of those now.

Andrew E. Freedman, Editor

After spending the last year slowly improving my own personal rig, it may be a good time to get a few extra parts at low prices. I also have my eye on a few more “lifestyle” gadgets that could see good deals.

  • An M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. I’m on a budget too, you know! Right now, my build is running of a SATA SSD I’ve had lying around. This would be a nice upgrade for a good price, especially because I probably wouldn’t even notice the day-to-day difference performance wise.
  • A smartwatch. Filed under “it might be nice to have one day.” That’s why I never got one. But I’ve dallied with the idea of an Apple Watch. And when the Series 5 was announced this year with few features over the Series 4, I suspect the older one may go one sale. Maybe this is the year?
  • A USB-PD power bank for my laptop. A big part of my job is covering trade shows, often far away from the nearest outlet. This could relieve a lot of stress during press conferences.

Zak Storey, Associate Editor (UK)

As I spend most of my time building crazy systems and organizing the peripheral segments at TH, I’m fairly well set when it comes to all things PC. That said, I've still got a long wish list when it comes to those whimsical Black Friday Amazon specials.

  • Smart Home Camera. When it comes to the whole smart home thing, I’m hooked. To be frank, I’ve got the lot, and yet the one thing I’m missing is an indoor security camera. I have a 10 month old Chocolate Labrador puppy who’s spending a lot more time out and around the house whilst I’m working, so keeping an eye on her on a second screen when I’m not in the living room would be incredibly reassuring.
  • Samsung CF791 34-inch UltraWide Monitor. I bought a B-Grade version of this screen two years back. It was beautiful, curved, VA panel, 3440x1440, 100Hz refresh rate. Foolishly, (and because I used to swap monitors a lot in my old job), I gave it to my father as a present. Now, I am running a 32” Viewsonic 4K Artworker screen, but it’s just not the same. I miss that real estate for productivity, and the pixel density is just right for World of Warcraft UI design (don’t ask).
  • Rechargeable Battery Charger. Recently I’ve been swapping out a few of my household item’s standard batteries with rechargeable ones. I’ve done it to my burglar alarm motion sensors, flashlights, kitchen scales, remotes and many other gadgets. Yet I’m missing a charger, and I need one that can not only juice up the AA and AAA size, but also charge the C, D and 9V form factors as well.