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Summary: You won’t regret buying an Asus Transformer, BlackBerry PlayBook, Toshiba Thrive, HP TouchPad or Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch Limited Edition this Black Friday.
Let’s face it: you’re shopping for an e-reader or a tablet on Black Friday because you want to get the best bang for your buck and are willing to forgo the latest specs and OS for the savings. You’re simply not going to find something as recently released as the Amazon Kindle Fire on sale on November 25 — at the most you may get a gift card to lessen the sting of paying regular price for the device, but that’s hardly worth fighting Black Friday crowds for. Thankfully, there are better deals out there than mere gift cards, which is why these five e-reader and tablet deals deserve your time and money this Black Friday.
10.1? Asus Eee Pad Transformer 16GB $249.99; $349.98 with Keyboard Dock
With the next-gen quad-core Asus Transformer Prime tablet due in stores any time soon, the current Transformer (TF101) is suddenly quite the steal this Black Friday. Best Buy is pricing the Transformer at just $249.99 or $349.99 with the optional dock, which is basically the same price as the Toshiba Thrive (see below) but with the added functionality of a laptop. As a stand-alone tablet, the 10.1-inch Transformer has a textured back that is less prone to slipping and fingerprints, a micro-SD slot and micro-HDMI port on-board, and runs Android Honeycomb with Flash support. When combined with the keyboard dock, the device gains about 6-7 hours of battery life, 2 USB ports, 1 SD slot and of course physical keys for extensive typing.
7? BlackBerry PlayBook 16GB for $199
Considering the Amazon Kindle Fire only offers 8GB of on-board storage, 512 MB RAM, lacks Bluetooth and cameras, the 7-inch BlackBerry PlayBook makes up for all the Fire’s hardware shortcomings without adding to the pricetag (at least for the 16GB version). For $199, you get 16GB of storage, a great looking and multitasking OS in QNX, a micro-HDMI-out, video chats with a 3-megapixel camera, and can pair your BlackBerry phone to a larger 7? screen. Native BBM email support is coming in the February 2012 update so critics’ last gripe with the tablet should finally be put to rest. Both Best Buy and Staples are marking down their PlayBooks this Black Friday so keep an eye out for it (Staples has the 32GB and 64GB variants for $249 and $399 respectively.)
10.1? Toshiba Thrive Tablet for $349.98
Speaking of Staples, it is also shaving $50 off the 10.1-inch Toshiba Thrive (pictured above), a sleeper hit of a tablet for those looking for more native ports and connectors on their slates that will fit right in with their current tech set-up. Although this model only has 16GB of internal storage, it comes with a full-size SD slot, USB and HDMI ports and has a removable battery so you can swap in a fresh one when you can’t plug into a socket. The Thrive also runs Honeycomb, which means it has a robust app store out-of-box. While it’s not the cheapest Black Friday tablet out there, it also means you’re not buying into a dead/dying system or an outdated model. (Toshiba’s most recent launch was a 7-incher.)
9.7? HP TouchPad 32GB for $229.99 with accessories $149 with HP Computer Purchase
Updated @ 11:14PM PST: Tipped by @Peter Perry, CompUSA is selling just the 32GB TouchPad (no need to buy a HP computer) but comes with accessories for $229.99. Not only will you be able to bring home one of the few remaining TouchPads around, you’ll also get a Belkin Tablet Desktop Stand, Belkin Tablet Sleeve and a pair of Creative Labs Wireless Bluetooth Speakers. This sale starts at 5:00AM PST in stores only so you want to start lining up now.
HP may be out of all TouchPads, but a couple of retailers like Staples and hhgregg are enticing shoppers this Black Friday with their remaining 32GB units for $149.99 — but only if you buy a HP computer as well. This may make sense if you’re shopping for a laptop or desktop this year and want to gift the TouchPad or vice versa. I personally find all the derision directed at webOS and the increasingly rare TouchPad unwarranted because the device works just fine for basic consumption needs (email, web surfing, music). It sure beats a similarly priced Pandigital or generic-brand me-too tablets that seem to fill Black Friday circulars.
Barnes & Noble’s 6? Nook Simple Touch Limited Edition e-Reader for $79
For one day only this Black Friday, Barnes & Noble will be cutting the price of its 6-inch Nook Simple Touch e-reader by $20 to just $79. The only caveat is that you must drop by your local B&N to get this limited edition device with a white edge (pictured right). Unlike the $99 Amazon Kindle Touch (or the $79 Kindle Wi-Fi for that matter), this Nook Simple Touch has no “annoying ads,” is compatible with ePUB format for library books, plus you can walk into any B&N store to get help on your e-reader and purchases. So if after-market service is important to you, then this the e-reader to get on Friday.
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Gloria Sin is a freelance journalist based in New York City.