BIG SHOT OF THE WEEK: Engineering tycoon Elon Musk

BIG SHOT OF THE WEEK: Engineering tycoon Elon Musk

Star man: Engineering tycoon Elon Musk

Star man: Engineering tycoon Elon Musk

Can Elon Musk be human? He might sound like a dodgy brand of men’s aftershave, but there is growing consensus the engineering tycoon might in fact be an artificial cyborg, created by science to save mankind.

There seems no other way to explain the relentless work ethic behind this peculiar South African, 46, whose drive and ambition is simply beyond the reach of mere mortals.

Musk is the pioneering architect of three separate billion-dollar companies, all attuned to his singular mission of dragging us into a braver, safer future.

There is Tesla motors, which makes affordable, battery-operated cars that he says will help reduce global warming.

There is energy firm Solar City, which he hopes will break our reliance on Middle Eastern oil.

And there is Space X, an aerospace manufacturer which is redefining the space travel industry, making the rockets we blast into orbit cheaper and more efficient.

Appearance-wise, the Musk autobot has benefited from extensive physical upgrades since his arrival on American soil, some 20-odd years after his creation in Pretoria.

Once a roly-poly ball of cookie-dough, his exoskeleton boasts sharper, more defined lines.

His hair, once a threadbare hotch-potch, is now bushier. 

His geeky uniform of plaid shirts and ill-fitting chinos has been replaced by snug T-shirts, designer jeans and pointy shoes.

His creators, Maye, a leggy model, and Errol, an engineer, noted little Elon’s ability to absorb information at an early age. 

When his father bought him his first computer, Elon mastered the coding within three days.

He told a friend he wished he didn’t have to waste time refuelling on food so he could work more. 

Early programming glitches meant he was not like the other school children. He would zone out and be uncommunicative. Bullies beat him mercilessly.

Musk still does not understand why.

Emotion remains an Achilles’ heel. When his parents separated he went to live with Errol, whom he says was not a nice man. Musk will not elaborate. Talking about his father makes Musk sad.

Green cred: Musk unveils the Tesla Roadster 2 in November 16,last year. The firm makes affordable, battery-operated cars that he says will help reduce global warming

Green cred: Musk unveils the Tesla Roadster 2 in November 16,last year. The firm makes affordable, battery-operated cars that he says will help reduce global warming

He has tried marriage on three occasions, without success.

His met his first wife Justine, with whom he has triplets and twins, at Queen’s University in Canada, where he enrolled after leaving South Africa aged 17. 

She compared his wooing technique to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator – he simply would not stop.

Musk had lots of money by the time they divorced eight years later.

Living in California he’d set up Zip2, an online Yellow Pages for the newspaper industry, which he sold his stake in for £15million.

Then he set up X.com, an email payment firm which ended up merging with Paypal. Musk didn’t mix well with the Paypal bunch who found him difficult and controlling (a common gripe) so removed him as chief executive. 

When it was sold to eBay – link webpage, for £1billion, Musk made £120million but would rather have still had control of his company.

He used the money to invest in his electric cars and space rockets.

He wishes Tesla could be a private company like Space X. Tesla is the most shorted stock in the US. Musk worries it will be taken away from him, like Paypal.

Armed with a £17billion fortune, he lives in a £12million home in Bel Air, California.

Google founder Larry Page is his good buddy. 

But not Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos. Bezos lured vital Space X employees to work on his own intergalactic programme Blue Origin.

He remarried in 2010 to British actress Talulah Riley, 32, who he met in London bar Whisky Mist, where they talked about spaceships. 

They divorced, remarried, then divorced again. Musk’s eyes are really only on the stars.

He wants to make rockets which take us from New York to London in 30 minutes and space pods in which we can all travel to Mars by 2024. 

Would you bet against him? Like The Terminator, Musk can’t be bargained with. He can’t be reasoned with.

And he absolutely will not stop ever, until he succeeds.

 

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UPDATE 4-Amazon warehouses receive only vital supplies in U.S.,…

By Krystal Hu and Jeffrey Dastin

NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc will only receive vital supplies at its U.S.

and UK and other European warehouses until April 5, its latest move to free up inventory space for medical and household goods in high demand as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The change does not mean Amazon will stop selling non-essential items like phone cases and toys for now, only that products may be more likely to run out of stock in the next few weeks or that sellers have to ship directly to consumers.

The move reflects how the global spread of the virus has created challenges for retailers, from supply chain to delivery.

In a note sent to sellers on Tuesday, Amazon said it is seeing increasing online shopping demand.

As its household staples and medical supplies are running out of stock, it will prioritize certain categories in order to « quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers. »

Amazon defined several categories as essential products that can continue shipping, including baby products; health and household items; beauty and personal care; grocery; industrial and scientific; and pet supplies.

Books are included as well.

« We understand this is a change for our selling partners and appreciate their understanding as we temporarily prioritize these products for customers, » Amazon said in a statement.

The company said the new protocol applies to its retail inventory as well as to the products of third-party sellers on its platform.

The move follows Amazon’s Monday announcement that it will hire 100,000 more workers, as the world’s largest online retailer is trying to meet growing online shopping need from people who stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

LESS AD REVENUE?

The news may hurt demand for lucrative services that Amazon offers to merchants, like advertising.

Amy Roskelley, owner of Utah-based Health Beet, said she pays Amazon around $1,000 a month to promote her flatware products that help consumers portion their meals.

Now that she can´t add inventory to Amazon´s warehouses, she plans to cut ad spend in half.

« It´s hard for me to justify spending money if I don´t have enough inventory to fill » customers´ orders, she said.

Roskelley is considering other ways to reduce her dependence on Amazon, too, whether shipping directly to customers or driving traffic to her own website.

« I have been concerned that they’ll shut down Amazon´s warehouses and won´t ship out at all, and that would just devastate me, » she said.

Amazon has yet to indicate any such closures.

Still, the months-long outbreak is posing challenges to the Seattle e-commerce company’s operations.

Merchant Zengxie Pang said Amazon’s change came just as the China-based seller’s factories had resumed production.

« Now we can’t ship to warehouses until April, » Pang said.

« We are already seeing a rising demand for kitchen supplies, and they will likely run out of stock. »

Chief executive of personal massager company LuLu, Michael Gawrychowski, said his supplier in China woke him in the middle of the night with news of Amazon’s change.

« People are freaking out, » he said.

Gawrychowski immediately sent a request for a 25,000-unit shipment. That was rejected, but a second request went through, he said.

Amazon’s two-day shipping guarantee has in some cases slowed to up to seven-day delivery, Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian said in a note.

Tuesday’s announcement aims to speed up the operation, at the risk of limiting the availability of non-essential items like electronics that typically are a big part of Amazon’s business.

« This change will likely force some third-party sellers currently dependent on Amazon to shift sales to other marketplaces (eBay, Wish, Walmart, Facebook Marketplace, etc.), or onto their own websites, » Sebastian said.

Customer searches for popular items including iPhone cases, AirPods and Apple Watch bands have fallen from the week prior, an indication of shifting shopper interests, according to research from Helium 10, which provides tools to sellers.

Workers at bars, gyms, theaters and other non-essential businesses have been furloughed to help contain the spread of the deadly virus, and President Donald Trump on Monday said the U.S.

economy may be sliding into recession.

For sellers, which account for over half of sales on Amazon, the new warehouse policy only adds to the economic uncertainty they are facing, said Chris McCabe, founder of Amazon seller consultancy ecommerceChris.com.

« Sellers are rethinking their entire strategies for selling in 2020, » he said,

(Reporting by Krystal Hu; Additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Jeffery Dastin in San Franscico and Elvira Pollina in Milan; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Lisa Shumaker, Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

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Australians can buy $233 smart kettle you can turn on with an iPhone 

Australians can buy $233 smart kettle you can turn on with an iPhone 

An innovative kettle that can be turned on by a iPhone is sending Australian shoppers into a frenzy.

Costing $233, the

The product’s manufacturer describes it as the ‘world’s most advanced domestic electric kettle’  – allowing the user to choose the time and temperature of each boil.

Scroll down for video 

Appkettle is also designed to cater for different beverages, including an in-built brew timer which changes depending on the hot drink you are making.

For young parents, meanwhile, the smart kitchen appliance is also adjustable for different baby bottle sizes.

While it is a UK-made product, the kettle is available on eBay and has had Australian technology fans clamouring to get their hands on the appliance when it was shared online.

Costing $233, the Appkettle appliance is WiFi-enabled and can be controlled either through a smartphone app (pictured), Amazon Alexa or via buttons on its base

Costing $233, the Appkettle appliance is WiFi-enabled and can be controlled either through a smartphone app (pictured), Amazon Alexa or via buttons on its base

‘Yes finally,’ one person wrote.

‘I could do with one of those. It might make me get out of bed quicker,’ another added. 

Some were more skeptical though of the need for such technology, saying it was providing a solution for a problem that was not there in the first place.

‘My wife has one that first thing in the morning fills with water, boils then makes a nice cup of tea. It’s called « me »,’ one commenter said.

Others pointed out that being able to remotely control your kettle didn’t solve the issue of having to fill it with water between uses.

‘Still got to fill it with water – so you’re only going to use the app once every few times you make a brew.’

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1984 VW GTI quick drive: More fun than 95% of the cars I’ve driven this year

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America’s hot hatch family tree has its roots planted firmly in this first-generation VW GTI.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Spend enough time with car nuts, and « the one that got away » will inevitably come up. Somebody’s beloved first car they had to sell to pay a bill. Someone else’s grandpa’s pride and eBay; on front page, joy. That time a last-second bidder sniped away a dream driver on eBay Motors. We all have those stories of bad timing, worse luck and general regret that, for one reason or another, prevented us from pulling the car-buying trigger. 

It stings.

I’ve got my fair share of those stories, but the one that looms largest is a certain 1984 Volkswagen GTI, formerly owned by VW of America and kept in stock, minty shape as part of the automaker’s own collection. After the owner of that particular car managed to buy it from VW during a mid-HQ-move asset sell-down, I routinely hounded him throughout the late Oughts, checking in once or twice a year for several years. The owner was a casual friend, and he’d kindly promised me first dibs when he tired of it. We had even agreed upon a price. At the time, I didn’t even necessarily know how I’d scrape up the money — let alone a spare parking space — but it didn’t matter, I’d find a way to do the deal.

The best holiday shopping deals this weekend

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Deal

Savings

Price

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Although Cyber Monday 2019 is but a fading memory, many of the deals that debuted around Thanksgiving continue this weekend, which is good news if you’re still holiday shopping. For example, lots of Amazon devices are still on sale (see below), and the elusive Nintendo Switch Lite is currently $189.99 at Woot — hardly a huge savings, but better than paying full retail. Even better than that: If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, the price drops to $179.99 at checkout! And if you love arcade games, you owe it to yourself to look at all the deals on the Arcade1Up cabinets below. 

Below we’ve rounded up the best holiday deals available right now, followed by deals which have expired. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Not only can you get the Switch Lite for $10 off at Woot right now, you can save an additional $10 if you’re a Prime member. 

Arcade1Up

We’re big fans of Arcade1Up’s retro machines, which offer all the fun of their coin-op counterparts but in 3/4-size cabinets. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Walmart heavily discounted many of them — and many of those discounts are still in place. You can get Street Fighter 2 for $200 (save $99), Space Invaders for $150 (save $150) and so on.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

After spending a few days at its lowest-ever price of $50, the 5.5-inch smart screen somehow dips even lower. This deal is available from Daily Steals via Facebook Marketplace, and you should get it while you can. Amazon’s price is now up to $60.

Read our Amazon Echo Show 5 review.

Though a few bucks higher than it was during Black Friday, the Echo Dot (without the clock) is still a great deal at $25. It puts all of the smarts of Amazon’s voice assistant

Read our Amazon Echo Dot 2018 review.

James Martin/CNET

C’mon… you want the newer, cooler version with the clock built in, right? It was just introduced in September at $60, but now it’s at its lowest price yet: just $35.

Note: Right now, this is available only in one color, and Amazon is showing that it isn’t shipping until January, but that may change since shipping times fluctuate.

Read our Echo Dot with Clock review.

Walmart

Make your favorite recipes with this Instant Pot, which features a dishwasher-safe inner cooking pot and a three-ply bottom for even heat distribution.

Amazon

This smart display still hasn’t shipped yet, but you can still score a deal — briefly pinging up to $100, it’s back to its Black Friday price of $80. The Echo Show 8 is basically a larger version of the super-popular , and therefore better suited to places like the kitchen, where the 8-inch screen makes it easier to view cooking videos and the like.

Read our Echo Show 8 review.

Walmart

Sorry, Bond and Bourne: Pound for pound, there’s no action movie series that delivers the goods like Mission: Impossible. This set includes all six titles in both Blu-ray and digital formats. It normally sells for anywhere from $48-$60.

The bundle is also available from Amazon for the same price. It was previously $20, but it’s now $23.12.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Sorry, gotta do it: The Force is strong with this one. Propel’s drones originally sold for $180. They’re incredibly fun to fly, and if you’re able to find the TIE Fighter or Speeder Bike elsewhere, you can engage in actual aerial dogfights. These are getting increasingly hard to find, so don’t miss this for just $40 (up from $37, earlier).

Sarah Tew/CNET

One of the best TVs we’ve reviewed this year is available at a huge discount. With insane light output, powerful local dimming and one of the best HDR pictures we’ve tested, this Vizio is a certified beast. Note, though, that is is up $200 from its earlier low price at sign up for a Costco membership if you don’t already have one.

Read our Vizio P-Series Quantum X review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you can’t afford premium noise-canceling models from Bose and Sony, the JBL Live 650BTNC Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones list for $200 and they’re great. This week, you can get them for $70 off — though that’s up from the earlier $100 price.

Read our JBL Live 650BTNC review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Sonos One is a great-sounding smart speaker that supports both Alexa and Google Assistant. This is the latest version, discounted $30. That’s a bit less than the discount for Cyber Monday, but still decent.

Read our Sonos One review.

Sceptre

That’s just a bananas price on a big ol’ desktop display. Yes, the 1080p resolution is actually a bit on the low side given the size, but you can tweak your PC’s settings to help compensate. Meanwhile, the Sceptre includes VGA, DVI and HDMI inputs and built-in speakers, so you could use it with your game console as well. Heck, plug in a streaming stick and make a TV out of it.

Mint Mobile

Borrowing a page from McDonald’s, which now charges the same price for any size drink, Mint Mobile will sell you any of its three-month plans for $15 per month. Why? Tough to say, but the obvious winner here is the 12GB option, which normally runs $25 per month (already an excellent deal).

For those unfamiliar with the carrier, Mint offers service for GSM-compatible phones (otherwise known as those compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile). You pay in either three-, six- or 12-month blocks.

Tip: There’s currently a $20 cash-back option available from both Rakuten and TopCashback, but the terms are really confusing. (Anyone who’s able to figure them out, leave a comment.)

César Salza/CNET

The Fossil Sport hit the scene just about a year ago, bringing oodles of features to the Wear OS watchscape for a reasonable $275. The specs include NFC for Google Pay, GPS, 5-atm water resistance, a heart rate monitor and an altimeter. This sale drops the Sport (light blue only) to just $149, the best price we’ve seen yet.

Walmart

A 65-inch TV for $360? Seems like only yesterday that would have been considered a steal on a 55-inch model. It’s an entry-level model, to be sure, with no smarts built in; you’ll have to add your own Fire TV or Roku streamer for those functions. Thankfully, it has four HDMI inputs, so there’s plenty of room for all the gear you might want to plug in. Note that this price is up $20 from its low of $360.

Amazon

This is the lowest price to date on Amazon’s kid-friendly tablet, which includes a heavy-duty case (with stand) and two-year worry-free warranty. You also get a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, a $36 value. The tablet is available in your choice of three case colors: blue, pink and purple.

You can also get the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet for $80, which is $50 off the regular price. It’s slightly faster and slightly larger, but otherwise pretty much the same experience for your kids.

Expired deals no longer available

Sorry — you missed out on these.

Tidal

Looking for a new place to hang your music-streaming hat? Tidal rivals the best of them, with a library of over 60 million songs and competitive pricing. A one-year subscription runs $120 — basically $10 per month — but for a limited time, you can score a free pair of Sennheiser HD 4.40BT headphones (shown above) with that subscription. Those popular over-the-ear cans list for $100.

Of course, Tidal is perhaps best known for its HiFi option, and if you grab a one-year subscription to that ($240), you’ll receive your choice of free Sennheiser HD 4.50BTNC headphones or IE 80 S ear-canal earbuds.

This deal is expired. 

Read our HD 4.50BTNC review.

Lenovo

Built with students in mind, the S340 offers 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a full-HD display. To put this Costco deal in some perspective, Lenovo charges $250 for a configuration with half the storage and a lower-resolution screen.

Here’s where you can sign up for a Costco membership if you don’t already have one.

This deal is expired.

Read more about the Lenovo S340.

Angela Lang/CNET

We recently awarded the Fitbit Versa 2 an Editors’ Choice award, citing its reasonable price, long-lasting battery and compatibility across Android and iOS. We called it « one of the best examples of a hybrid fitness tracker and smartwatch you can buy. » Normally $200, it’s now on sale for $130 — a $70 discount — at AmazonBest BuyWalmart and Fitbit’s own site.

Read our Fitbit Versa 2 review.

Nintendo

Before you buy, be aware that you’re getting the original version of the Switch, not the new model. Since that means your battery life will be somewhere between 2.5 and 6.5 hours, you probably want to take advantage of this deal only if you mostly plan to keep it docked. For lots of away missions, you might want to pass on this and get the updated Switch. Here’s how to  by looking at the box art.

Nintendo is bundling the download code for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the first-gen version of the Switch for $300, and throwing in a screen protector as well.

Currently available from Amazon and Best Buy.

Read our Nintendo Switch review.

Sony

This is the best we’ve seen this season. Last year, you got the same console plus Spider-Man at this price, so this is a pretty big ramp-up. 

  • God of War
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition
  • The Last of Us Remastered

That pulls together three of the best-ever PS4 exclusives — albeit ones that are not for younger kids.

Read more at GameSpot: The best PS4 Black Friday 2019 deals.

Read our Sony PS4 Slim review.

Walmart

The new AirPods are the baseline true-wireless earbuds. They have an open design and the fit can be finicky for some ears, but they’re a nice step up from wired headphones for iPhone users.

Read our Apple AirPods 2019 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

An absolute favorite among runners, these AfterShokz earbuds are ultralightweight and sweatproof, and their unique bone-conduction design means you can hear your music and podcasts without blocking ambient noise (like, say, the sound of cars or cyclists coming up behind you). Discounts are extremely rare, so grab this one while you can.

Read our AfterShokz Air review.

Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

If you’re looking to take the plunge on Hulu’s video service, now is the perfect time. This weekend only, you can scoop up the first year of the service for just $1.99 a month — $4 less than the usual price. Yes, there are ads, and yes, the price goes up after the first year. But this is still a pretty sweet deal.

See complete details.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you’ve been waiting for a good deal on this terrific TV — we gave it an Editors’ Choice Award for its image quality,  affordable price and best-in-class Roku TV smarts — it’s here. And you can get it at that price from several places, such as Walmart, in addition to Best Buy.

Read our TCL 6-Series 2019 review.

The latest iPad has a larger 10.2-inch screen and support for Apple Pencil (sold separately). It’s a great deal for anyone with a 2017 (non-Pro) iPad or older. It was available for $230 earlier this weekend from Amazon and Target, but that price didn’t last until Cyber Monday.

Read our iPad 10.2 review.

David Carnoy/CNET

They’re back: Best Buy again has the JLabs JBuds Air on sale for $30. They normally retail for $50. JLabs makes a lot of true wireless earbuds and these are its most affordable — a relative bargain at $30 — and frankly, the only ones I’d buy.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The hot-ticket item of 2019 is back in stock at Amazon in time for Cyber Monday. The discount isn’t much, but it’s something. If you’re hoping for an AirPods Pro-like experience at a lower price, check out these .

These AirPods are temporarily out of stock, but the deal is still available and will ship when inventory returns.

Read our AirPods Pro review.

This is the Goldilocks tablet in Amazon’s line — you’re much better off getting this model instead of the 7-incher (tempting though a Fire 7 may be at $30).

Read our Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet review.

Rockstar Games

Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the biggest hits of the decade, clearing $725 million in its opening weekend last year. In the game, you travel back to 1899, when America’s short-lived Wild West era was in its death throes. You get to experience it through the eyes of an outlaw who’s trying to survive in that dangerous and dusty world. Right now, you can pick up the Xbox One digital download of Red Dead Redemption 2 for $30 from Amazon or the disc version for $25 from Best Buy. Read GameSpot’s review of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Apple’s latest, greatest MacBook Air frequently is on sale for $900. Earlier this week, you could get it for as little as $800, but that deal is gone with the wind. Still, this is $200 less than you’d pay at the Apple Store right now.

This model includes 8GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive.

Read our MacBook Air 2019 preview.

RemoBell

Already a pretty amazing deal at $99, the RemoBell S is an attractive, hardwired doorbell designed to take the place of your existing bell. I’ve been using one for about six months, and while I still don’t love the forced fisheye view of recorded videos, overall the doorbell has worked really well. And I absolutely do love the free cloud storage.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When Lenovo introduced the IdeaPad 330s last year, it started at $500. Now, you can get a nice midrange configuration — with a quad-core AMD processor, a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM — for under $300. Equipped with a nice 15.6-inch display, the 330s has thinner-than-usual bezels and an aluminum lid. This is a good deal on a solid entry-level laptop. (Note, however, that it was previously $329, so watch for another sale if you’re not in a hurry.)

Read our Lenovo IdeaPad 330s preview.

RCA

Recently expired, it’s back! In case you ended up missing out on the Samsung deal (above) or prefer a TV with built-in Roku, Walmart has this RCA model at the exact same price. It also has no user reviews, but at least it has three HDMI inputs instead of just two. Don’t expect a world-class picture; do expect a huge screen to enjoy watching your shows on. And, hey, same deal: If you’re not happy with it, you can take it back to the store.

Lenovo

This feels like the kind of deal that would normally be a doorbuster, requiring you to stand in line outside the store for a couple hours. This Chromebook features 4GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage and a touchscreen on a 360-degree hinge — meaning it’s suitable for tablet duty as well. The screen may be on the smaller side, but that didn’t stop this 2-in-1 from scoring a 4.7-star average rating from over 1,800 buyers.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Looking to update some of your older Roku devices? Get the superluxe ultrapremium model for the lowest price ever. The Ultra supports 4K and HDR, of course, and also includes Ethernet and USB ports, a microSD slot and a lost-remote finder. And speaking of that remote, you can plug in wired headphones (JBL earbuds included!) for easy private listening.

Read our Roku Ultra review.

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How to win Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2019

2:25

Still with us? This article has been periodically updated to keep it current. What follows is the original version of this article, with plenty of general tips for shopping on Cyber Monday.


It’s just over a month until Black Friday, but of course things are starting to ramp up already. Best Buy, for example, already ran a guaranteed-Black-Friday-pricing sale on TVs (now expired) and just unveiled weekly sales on Apple products for members of its free My Best Buy program. And that’s just the start. In the next week or so, expect to see « leaked » ads from a growing number of stores, along with early sales (« Black November, » anyone?) and other promotions.

In case you’re new to these United States, a quick explanation: Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. (Today it’s better known as the day retail stores try desperately to remind people there are still retail stores.) Cyber Monday happens three days later, with the focus squarely on online shopping.  

As always, we’ll be watching for all these sales and passing along the best ones. In the meantime, let’s talk about the ways you can shop smarter on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

Read more: When is Black Friday 2019?

1. Don’t get caught up in the hype

I’ve been writing the for 12 years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that every day is Black Friday. Some recent examples: The Amazon Kindle (2019) for $65, the Apple Watch Series 3 for $189, the Nintendo Switch V2 for $263 and a refurbished JBL Link 10 speaker for $40. (Some of these have sold out or expired. I’m using them primarily to illustrate my point.)

Will those products be even less on Black Friday? Perhaps, but some of them (like the Kindle and Apple Watch) are already selling at historic lows. Between Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, Prime Day, Labor Day and Christmas, there are countless opportunities year-round for stores to hold sales. And that’s exactly what they do. None of them put all their eggs into Black Friday’s basket.

Bottom line: Try to avoid getting caught up in the Friday frenzy. If there’s something you want to buy and you spot a great deal before BF, grab it. If you missed a great deal on BF, don’t sweat it: Chances are good you’ll see it again before long. Trust me on this; I speak from experience.

2. Set up price alerts, and do it now

Suppose you’re planning to buy one of the aforementioned items — say, the Nintendo Switch. But you’re not going to pull the trigger unless the price drops to $250 or less. (Psst: It’s getting there. Check out today’s Switch deal at $262.95.)  Just one problem: Short of checking a bunch of stores on a daily basis, how can you find out when that happens?

honey-droplist

Honey’s Droplist tool can notify you when a product’s price drops.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Simple: Set up price alerts. Free tools including CamelCamelCamel (which works solely with Amazon), Honey, PriceBlink and WikiBuy can notify you when there’s a price drop. It might be called a « droplist » or « watchlist, » but ultimately it’s a way to bookmark store items and find out when they go on sale. This is not only a time-saver, but also a way to insure that a short-lived discount doesn’t get away from you.

You may want to use one or more of these tools simultaneously, as some of them let you set thresholds for alerts, while others will notify you if there’s any price drop at all.

3. Sit out the doorbuster sales

For many, Black Friday still conjures images of long lines outside the store and crazy crowds inside it — because that’s how it all started. But although lots of retailers still try to lure customers in with « doorbuster » deals, they’re not always worth the effort.

black-friday-crowd-getty.jpg

Stop the madness! Or, at least, don’t participate in it.

Stan Honda/Getty Images

For starters, most of the best deals have limited quantities available, meaning you’ll have to arrive really early and stand in line for a really long time. Should you really bother doing that to save, say, an extra $20 on a Nintendo Switch? Or get a bargain-basement price on a TV that’s not great to begin with?

Probably not. And, remember, once you’re in the door, there’s a good chance you’ll end up spending money on other items you don’t need or want. My advice: stay home.

4. Don’t forget your cash-back apps

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Cash-back app Dosh links to your credit card to automatically score you savings — not just from online stores, but local ones as well.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Psst! There’s a way to save even more on Black Friday (and Cyber Monday, and every other shopping day of the year): Use a cash-back service.

Read more: Cash-back services: Do they really work?

BeFrugal, Dosh, Rakuten (formerly Ebates), Honey and TopCashback are just a few of the services that will score you extra discounts (in the form of rebates) at many, if not most, stores — mostly online stores, but some retails ones, too. Dosh in particular is good choice for the latter, but the Rakuten mobile app also supports in-store shopping.

Read more: 4 ways to get cash back without even trying

5. Forget the stuff — shop for experiences instead

This 51-year-old cheapskate has learned that owning stuff is nowhere near as good as doing stuff. So consider choosing Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on experiences, the kinds that build memories. Some suggestions:

  • National parks
  • Escape rooms
  • Live music at small venues
  • Ballparks in other states
  • Football-bowling
  • Axe-throwing
  • Indoor go-kart racing

In other words, put the phone down, take the headphones off, and get the hell out there. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

6. Use virtual credit card numbers

Online shopping is pretty safe overall, but every time you buy something, you’re exposing your credit card number. The more stores you patronize, the greater the odds of that number getting stolen.

Solution: Use a virtual credit card, meaning one that’s generated for one-time use and doesn’t expose your real number. Many banks offer this option. If yours doesn’t, check out Token, a free app that produces virtual credit card numbers.

Originally published last year. Updated to reflect new advice and promotions.  

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4 things to know before buying that used phone on eBay

4 things to know before buying that used phone on eBay

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Having a great phone that can handle gaming, streaming and take lovely photos doesn’t mean spending a fortune on the latest flagships like the iPhone 11 Pro or Galaxy S20 Ultra. Buying an older phone, used, can save you a bunch of money, but still puts some awesome hardware in your pocket. Even better, it saves a phone from going to landfill, which we can all agree is a good thing.

But there are some key things to keep in mind if you want the best phone for your money and you want to stay safe when you get it. Here then, are our top tips on how to safely buy a great used phone, whether you want an iPhone (Samsung Galaxy A8 will likely fit you well.

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Think about what features you really need in a phone. Is having a button-free display really worth splashing the extra cash on a more modern handset?

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

If, however, you’re really into your photography then you may want to spend a bit more on something that’s got a decent camera on the back. In that case, something like an iPhone X (Galaxy S9 ($230 at Back Market). You’ll have to find that balance between the performance you need and the price you’re happy to pay. Newer phones with more modern features will come with a higher price. 

Buy from a trusted source

Not every phone seller has your best interests at heart, so it’s important to be savvy with your shopping. Some places to avoid should be obvious; don’t buy from the guy selling phones on a street corner, for example, but others can be hit and miss.

eBay is a well-known source for buying anything used and there’s a huge selection of phones to be had. Some of these are sold by refurbishing companies that trade solely in buying and selling used handsets. Others are just regular people trying to offload their old devices when they upgrade. The result is that it can sometimes feel like panning for gold, looking for those nuggets you actually want. Check the next section for more tips on buying on eBay.

My best advice though is to go to trusted companies that buy old phones, refurbish them and sell them on. I’ve used MusicMagpie in the UK and had no problems. Its online catalogue is vast, it clearly lists the condition of the phones, every handset is factory reset and you get a 12-month warranty with every purchase. Prices might be a tad higher than you’d find on eBay but the peace of mind more than makes up for it. Gazelle offers a similar service in the US, although we haven’t tested it ourselves so can’t vouch for the overall quality of the service.

Read moreBest cell phone trade-in options for iPhones and Android phones

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MusicMagpie’s product pages make it very easy to see the condition of the exact phone you’re buying.

MusicMagpie/Screenshot by Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Check the details

Whether you’re buying from eBay, Amazon Marketplace or anywhere else, it’s important to pay close attention to what you’re actually getting. Read carefully what the listing says, including any small print that might be hidden further down, in among other details. It may be that phrases like « nonfunctioning » or « battery faulty » are intentionally buried to trick people into buying a phone that no longer works. They’ll also likely explain whether you’re getting the original charging cable, packaging and what sort of nicks and scratches you can expect to see.

Use your common sense here — if a $1,000 iPhone is being sold for only $100, there’s probably something fishy going on. Don’t be the guy who bought a picture of an Xbox One for $735

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Despite having the latest software installed, this Galaxy S6’s last security update was applied in 2018. That means that there are two years of new exploits that this phone is susceptible to.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Make sure it still gets security updates

I’ll make this as clear as possible: Do not buy a phone that no longer gets security updates from its manufacturer. that can give hackers easy access to every single piece of information on your handset — or even control it completely. Those bank details, those cute pics of your kids, those sexy selfies you sent to your partner — all could be accessed and stolen.

Most Android phone manufacturers tend to support their handsets for two to three years. Apple takes that further, however, supporting even 2015’s iPhone 6S ($129 at Back Market) with the latest iOS 13. 

It’s frustrating that phones aren’t supported for longer, as the hardware remains perfectly capable, but the outdated software makes the phones vulnerable. I recently compared the 2017 Galaxy S8 to the brand-new Moto G Power and while the S8 performed superbly, it’s right on the cusp of being cut off from Samsung’s regular updates, meaning that it won’t be long before it becomes gradually less safe to use. 

Your best bet is to look at phones that came out within the last two years and are therefore likely still receiving security updates. When you find a phone that suits, google the model name and try and find out if it’s still definitely getting updates, and if there’s an indication of how much longer it’ll get them for. Companies aren’t forthcoming with info about when they’re cutting a product loose, but by looking at what other models are still being supported you can make a fair estimate.

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The Galaxy S9, being a newer model than the S8, will likely continue getting security updates for longer.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Galaxy S8 ($193 at Back Market), for example, is still listed on Samsung’s support page as getting updates, but it likely won’t be for much longer. It’s reasonably safe to assume therefore that the S9 (launched a year after the S8) will have at least another year of safe use out of it. Buying a used S9 might cost a little more than a used S8, but it’s an investment that’ll be safer for you in the long run.

Make sure when your phone of choice arrives that you fully factory reset it yourself, and make sure to check for all available software updates before doing anything else.

If you’re keen to save some cash by buying used, make sure to check out our full article on the security advice you need to be aware of. Also see how the old S8 compares to the recent Moto G Power. If you’re not keen on buying used but still don’t want to spend all your savings, take a look at our roundup of the best phones under $200.

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