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Home / Tips and Tricks / Black Friday no-nos: technical etiquette to know before you buy a phone or gadget

Black Friday no-nos: technical etiquette to know before you buy a phone or gadget



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The Echo Show 5 can be a great gift, but not for everyone.


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This story is part of Holiday Survival Guide 2019 with tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

Buying your friend or loved one a new phone laptop smart speaker or other electronic device may sound like a great idea – and sometimes it is. But before you pull the trigger, you have to take into account that a technical gift is not the same as a new sweater or pot plant. It can be accompanied by a mess of unintended costs and complications, such as the need to purchase additional items or the chance that you may expose someone's privacy in a way that they have not requested.

In some ways, giving someone a phone, tablet, or other gadget can be very personal. They offer a way to communicate with friends, make new friends, or with something like a Kindle to escape to another world. In other words, technical products are more than just a battery, components and some software. They are tools that can add value to a person's life, even if it doesn't feel like you are strolling through your local Best Buy .

The process of choosing the perfect gadget this Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday or any other day should not be a simple matter. There are aspects of the product and the company behind the product that you must take into account. Privacy, security and compatibility help you make good decisions when shopping for new phones or gadgets.

Let's take a closer look at a few best practices. If you're needed somewhere to get started, we've collected all the best Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday deals from Amazon Best Buy and Walmart . We also give you suggestions for the best iPad to buy this Black Friday and a few more things to think about if is a smart home gift you're looking for such as Google Home or Amazon Echo.

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Beware of extra & # 39; s that someone else has to buy

No matter what type of device you end up buying as a gift, take into account any additional accessories that it needs. Ask yourself – or the seller – if the device is immediately ready for use.

If you buy color changing lamps do they need a hub to get them to work? If it is a telephone or tablet, does it make sense to also give a case or have your receiver choose one later? Many telephones have omitted the headphone connection, so a dongle to switch from USB-C or Lightning to a 3.5 mm audio connection.

More examples to note: for a Roomba additional brushes, filters, or virtual barriers become items that your loved one will eventually need. There is a good chance that if you give a smart speaker as a gift, which also acts as a voice-controlled speaker for streaming music, a gift voucher for a subscription to Spotify or Pandora will be appreciated.

Another aspect to consider is whether they should replace things that they already have? Perhaps that new phone requires a different type of charging cable than what they already use. It may not be your responsibility to replace that, but keep in mind that your gift may have wrinkle effects.

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Dongles are sometimes a necessary evil.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Note which devices someone already owns

The last thing you want to do is give Dad a gift that he cannot or will not use. Before you decide to buy the latest Amazon Echo or an Apple Watch, you need to find out what devices they already use regularly.

For example, if your giftee has an Android phone, they cannot use every function in an Apple Watch . Or if they have a house full of Google Home smart speakers the Alexa assistant of Amazon is probably not good.

Wireless earbuds are usually a safe bet and smartwatches (outside of the Apple Watch) generally work with any type of smartphone. Streaming devices such as Roku or Fire TV usually also work with any TV. Don't get so caught up in what kind of products your friends and family already have that you don't make a decision, don't forget to keep your gift cards handy so that they can trade innocently.

If you have a general idea of ​​what kind of device (s) the fifteen are already using in his or her home, we have a smart home compatibility chart that stores everything for you. Here are more specific angles to consider when giving smart home gifts .

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Knowing what the receiver already owns is an important aspect of a tech gift shop. Angela Lang / CNET

The Golden Rule of Buying a Phone as a Gift

If you are buying someone a phone knock on your back for your thoughtfulness and generosity. Make sure you have thought through all the corners.

The most important thing is to make sure that the phone you buy is working with the desired wireless network provider. Wireless providers use different technology that can prevent telephones from operating on networks of competitors. The last thing you want to do is buy a phone that only works on Verizon Wireless for someone who has entrenched himself in T-Mobile.

Immediately ask the gift recipient which wireless provider he is using or consider buying an unlocked phone. Many smartphone makers offer an unlocked version that works on almost all wireless providers. Know that not every courier function works, such as calling via WiFi, which is tailored to specific networks. In short, know your audience.

Keep your receipt handy and make sure you tell your recipient that there are no hard feelings if he or she ultimately wants to return or exchange the phone. This gift is all about the gesture.

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Google & # 39; s Pixel 4 XL is sold by any provider, or as an unlocked phone.


Stephen Shankland / CNET

Pay attention to privacy red flags

Some products have consequences for privacy and security. Even if you're OK with having an Amazon Echo and the always-active microphone in your house, a friend or lover might not be as comfortable with the idea. And although you may feel that Aunt Mary urgently needs to join the 21st century with a Echo Show 8 you should take into account her comfort level.

We store a lot of information on our phones and gadgets. Personal information such as bank details, frequently visited locations, our current location, photos, and conversations are all things that we blindly trust on our devices.

At the very least, you should consider companies such as Facebook or Amazon that are constantly surrounded by privacy questions and concerns if you are considering buying a Facebook portal . or one of Amazon & # 39; s Ring & # 39; s smart doorbells as a gift.

If you are looking for a product from a company that you have never heard of, or even for companies you have, a quick Google search, for example privacy issues on Facebook would have any potential must raise issues.

One option to consider if you are unsure whether the gift will be a hit: go for it and buy it as a sort of placeholder. You can explain that you think it is good to help them refine the final decision and, if necessary, get another product.

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For someone who doesn't like it feel comfortable with Facebook & # 39; s privacy practices, the portal may not be a good idea.


Tyler Lizenby / CNET

See how long a company will support its product.

Routine software updates are an important part of owning a technical product. Updates not only make a product better over time, but can also improve and improve the security of a device.

Therefore, it is even more important to trust that companies will continue to support the devices through updates, especially when security issues are discovered (as is often the case).

If you are looking for a telephone, Apple & # 39; s iPhone and Google & # 39; s Pixel Arrangement will receive the most consistent and timely updates. In addition to Google's own phones, Samsung has a good track record for consistent updates with its Android phones, while Motorola has really dropped the ball in recent years. (The foldable Motorola Razr may be an exception for early adopters to save with money, but it will not pre-order until December 26 .)

Software updates for smart speakers and streaming devices such as a Chromecast are processed in the background without the user ever knowing (ideal for those who are not so technically skilled).

It is a good idea to see how long a company promises to support a product with software updates after the release.

Finally, there will be many great offers and promotions this season. Don't be tempted by a deal from a product from a brand you've never heard of. If the company does not continue to exist, your gift can become a beautiful paperweight.

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Anki has made some great products, but eventually stopped earlier this year.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Read more than one review

Even if you get a list with a specific idea for a gadget gift, do your own research by reading reviews of the product. Read more than one review and look for similarities in compliments and problems.

For example, the DJI Mavic Mini – an entry level drone – was recently released with a basic package for $ 399 that contains only the basic that you need to fly. For $ 499 you get two extra batteries, a carrying case and a few other accessories. If the Mavic Mini basic bundle is on the wish list, is it worth spending the extra $ 100 for the extra accessories? Assessments will help you make an informed decision.

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Reviews are an important part of research into new products. Juan Garzon / CNET

The same can be said for products released earlier in the year that are likely to be upgraded and replaced shortly after the holidays. Take your time, do your research and make an informed decision.

Still not sure where to start? Here are the best phones of 2019, along with our 2019 gift guide with items for different budgets and Star Wars fans. You can also view our favorite selections for popular products such as smart speakers tablets and laptops .

Originally published earlier this month.


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