As I approach my tenth Black Friday, I find myself pondering the likelihood of a first decent discount on our favourite premium wireless earbuds (the Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds dropped by ‘only’ £20 last Prime Day); an unprecedented low price for the popular (also Award-winning) LG C3 OLED TV; and perhaps even a first-ever deal on the recently launched, five-star Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones and earbuds. After all, it’s the sales event that will most likely see the latest and greatest consumer electronics products shed a few pounds or dollars, and this kind of kit is always among the big sellers in consumer electronics. Like it or not, Black Friday is the best time of the year to shop for pretty much anything – even newly launched stuff.
You might be set on owning one of these latest and greatest products (a What Hi-Fi? Award 2023 winner, perhaps!) and be waiting for the official Black Friday sale to pounce on whatever discount is offered on it, in which case, go for it! Any discount will be welcome, furthering its already excellent value, and you’ll own a current class leader in the market. Don’t let me put you off for one moment.
But if you’re less certain about what you're after and perhaps the ‘best of the best’ or your number one pick is, budget-wise, out of reach, let me warn you off instinctively trying to find another new alternative or the official next model down, because your next best bet could actually be a relative old-timer.
Former favourites for the win
While discounts on newer products often make the Black Friday deals round-ups and retailer spotlights, I’ve continuously found that the biggest Black Friday bargains are on older-generation products – on hi-fi products that are a handful of years (or more) old, and on Sony and Bose headphones, OLED TVs or phones that have since been replaced by a new iteration and might be in their final days of shelf life.
Look at the best of the best and, if you can’t afford it, look to see if the older version it replaced is heavily discounted – more of an accessible mid-range price compared to the out-of-reach, premium one it carried when it launched a year or two ago. Don’t expect the same performance as the current model, of course, but you’d be surprised how little an evolutionary step there can sometimes be between one generation of product to the next. Even when there is a considerable jump, a discounted older model might be the better value of the two, and perhaps still one of the best products in its field regardless of discount anyway, having not been bettered by much of the newer competition. I’d urge you to check ‘versus’ articles (like this LG C3 vs LG C2 OLED TV one) that state the differences between new and old models, too, so you have the context to make an informed buying decision.
We aren’t even in Black Friday week yet and we’re already seeing this trend surface. A fortnight ago, last year’s 55-inch LG G2 OLED dropped to less than half of its launch price despite still being in the top handful of premium TVs at its size. (The 'last hurrah' deal on the 48-inch size is still live, by the way.) Did that make it better value than the 55-inch C3 of this year at the time? Yes, it did.
A similar example is Bowers & Wilkins' 607 S2 and 606 S2 speakers being crazy value right now and far cheaper than – less than half the price of – the new (yes, better) S3 versions. On that note, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for a deal on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II now that they have a successor in the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds.
Whether or not a product has been replaced or not, just because it is older than your pet doesn’t mean it’s 'old hat' and not worth considering, either. Typically, the hi-fi market’s product cycles aren’t as short as the wider electronic consumer market’s, and there are current What Hi-Fi? Award winners and persisting five-star performers today that go back years. These are often ripe for Black Friday discounts at specialist retailers such as Richer Sounds and Sevenoaks, with current examples being £500 off the decade-old Rokan K3 amplifier and £300 off the 2019-released Marantz PM7000N streaming amplifier.
Please, ask us!
If you’re looking for a hi-fi or home cinema bargain this Black Friday and see a huge discount on an older product but aren’t sure if it’s still worth buying, please do reach out to one of our team on What Hi-Fi?’s Facebook or Instagram pages and we'd be happy to offer our advice. I think I speak for my whole team when I say that we don't particularly like writing about deals, but we definitely do want you to buy the right kit at the best price possible.
Our round-up of the best Black Friday deals so far on headphones, hi-fi and AV kit
The best Black Friday hi-fi deals on turntables, speakers, amps and more