Best TV deals for Black Friday

A TV bought on Black Friday, especially at a classic "doorbuster" sale, had better be as cheap as possible. But you shouldn't regret buying it.

That's the philosophy I espoused in compiling the list below. I combed the major circulars, courtesy of BFAds.net, and found the cheapest TVs I'd actually recommend someone buy.

With a couple of exceptions they're very different from the TVs I generally recommend. I strongly believe that it's worth spending more, within reason, to get better picture quality.

But it's Black Friday time, and TV shoppers everywhere … Read more

HP to try a $99 tablet again?

Hewlett-Packard unintentionally pioneered the ultra-cheap tablet when it fire-sold the TouchPad for $99 back in the summer of 2011. HP may be ready to do it again.

HP will launch a $99 tablet in cooperation with Wal-Mart in time for the back-to-school shopping, Digitimes reported Wednesday, citing Asia-based suppliers.

Here's what the Taipei-based publication said.

The US$99 tablet is manufactured by China-based BYD and is the second tablet that HP has outsourced to the China-based maker. The device adopts a 7-inch touch panel and Intel's Medfield-based single-core processor.

If true, it's plausible that HP could hit … Read more

How third-party retailers can complicate your smartphone purchase

Wireless operators, such as T-Mobile, talk a good game about making their device sales and service plans easier to understand. But often figuring out which devices can be used on which networks and how much you have to pay for those devices is anything but simple.

The situation seems to get even more complicated when you factor in third-party retailers that are also reselling devices for wireless operators. In this edition of Ask Maggie, I help two readers figure out how to navigate buying and activating devices from a third-party reseller. And I explain and rant a little bit about … Read more

Walmart exec: Mobile can revive personal touch for shoppers

LAS VEGAS -- Walmart believes smartphones can deliver the same kind of personalized service that founder Sam Walton embraced with his first store.

Where e-commerce brought the store to the Web, smartphones are bringing the Web to physical stores, with each consumer able to access data from their phones, according to Gibu Thomas, head of mobile for Walmart.

"The future of retail is the history of retailing," he said during a keynote address at the CTIA Wireless trade show on Wednesday. "It's about a personalized experience for each shopper delivered through the smartphone."

Critics fear … Read more

The 404 1,239: Where we swear we're not cops (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- In Jeff's words, April Fool's is a day for unfunny people to tell jokes. With that, I'm pretty sure this prank was posted two weeks early.

- The OPMOD/ThinkGeek Battle Mug: an elegant drink receptacle for a more civilized age.

- Boston police go undercover online to stop DIY punk shows.

- Latest Japanese schoolgirl trend: Fake Dragon Ball attacks.

- Walmart may get customers to deliver packages to online buyers.

- Sales of twin-size beds drop as Tweens demand bigger beds...for their tablets.… Read more

What to do with the gifts you hate

Every year there's always one or two gifts that prompt you to ask yourself "what were they thinking?" You know it's something you'll never use, and you're left with the question of what to do with it. This year, don't let it sit in your closet collecting dust, and most certainly don't throw it away. Turn that unwanted gift into something you do want, be it cash, a gift card, or another item you'll actually use. Here's a few different ways you can deal with the gift you loathe.

Sell … Read more

Facebook cozies up with Walmart for mobile-ad blitz

Some users may have noticed that on Black Friday, Walmart was ever-present in Facebook's mobile news feed. That's because the massive retailer was trying out an experiment -- it took out 50 million ads on the social network in an effort to drive users to its Web site for holiday deals.

This experiment was Facebook's biggest mobile advertising campaign ever, and it's looking like there will be more to come, according to the Wall Street Journal. The social network is apparently thinking about letting other companies partake in similar experiments.

Walmart's collaboration with Facebook was … Read more

So where will people shop today that isn't Amazon?

Today is expected to be one of the biggest days ever for online shopping, but where will people be making some of their purchases may be surprising.

According to Deepfield, which provides technology to track and analyze network performance, some of the top Internet retailers are the usual suspects, like Amazon, while some others, such as Shopify, are more unexpected.

The company conducted a large-scale study of online shopping infrastructure over the past several months, using data from its ongoing study of Internet backbone traffic.

What it has found is that Amazon, of course, dominates Internet retail. About 14 percent … Read more

How Walmart is going all out with mobile

TUSCON, Ariz.-- Here's the takeaway from a panel called, "Shopping Outside the Box: The Intersection of Data and Dollars," that took place at the Techonomy conference: For all retailers -- that means brick-and-mortar giants -- it's all about the data.

"Data is the weapon," said Dan Schulman, the Group President of Enterprise Growth at American Express.

And, increasingly, that data is coming from mobile devices. The challenges facing brick-and-mortar stores are only growing as online shopping moves from the desktop to smartphones. People look up prices online while they're inside a store. … Read more

Is Thanksgiving Day the new Black Friday?

Forget Black Friday and be sure to slam a Red Bull at the Thanksgiving table this year. You'll need it to offset the effects of that turkey's tryptophan and be primed for some serious shopping following the feast.

That's right. Black Friday is now Black Thursday.

Toys "R" Us is among the retailers that will call employees in on Thanksgiving evening to open its nationwide locations at 8 p.m. and help fulfill shoppers' "hot toy needs," according to a release. HDTVs and tablets like the Tabeo for kids and Samsung Galaxy Tab series are just a few of the hot digital toys the stores will be pushing for a possible second dessert on Thanksgiving night.… Read more