By Steve Van Dinter Special To Channel 3000
We're a little more than a week away from stuffing ourselves full for Thanksgiving, but this year you might want to cut down on that extra helping of turkey to make sure you're up for the Black Friday sales.
Some of the biggest savings of the season are scooped up on Black Friday, and when it comes to electronics, this year looks to be no different.
That's good news for our wallets since the Consumer Electronics Association estimates we'll each spend about 8 percent more this holiday season on gadgets -- or roughly $222 a person.
While official ads have not been released by retailers, you can find them online right now both in list form and ad scan. Just remember these are always subject to change.
So what are some best bets this year?
Some hot tickets will again be televisions. We've been seeing them come down in price as much as 30 percent in a year.
One hot deal for sure will be an Apex 40-inch 1080p LCD at Target for $449.
Best Buy has a 50-inch Samsung plasma for $697.
And the cheapest LED I could find was a 40-inch Samsung at Sears for $1,399.
What about laptops?
These are always a popular Black Friday item and plenty of deals abound.
My pick for a higher-end model at a great price is the HP with built in Blu-Ray player for $497 from Best Buy. Keep in mind netbooks are also an option this year. They're lighter than a laptop, are smaller, get outstanding battery life but do not have a DVD drive nor are they quite as powerful.
Kmart and Menards are offering low-end models for just $119 with higher end models at other retailers as cheap as $229 on Black Friday.
On the Apple side of things, don't expect any huge discounts, but if you are looking for a MacBook or MacBook Air for instance, check out Apple's site on Black Friday as typically they've dropped prices by about 10 percent.
Looking for some storage for digital pictures or video? The price here gets cheaper every year.
The best deal I've seen of the ads posted so far is a 1TB Western digital external drive for just $59.98 at Target.
There are so many sites and so many items, what's the best game plan?
First, you've got to do your research. That means checking out the final version of the ads when they come out and visiting Web sites like bfads.net, blackfriday.info, dealnews.com and blackfriday.gottadeal.com to see how much your product lists for now compared to what it will be on Black Friday. Is the sale good enough to stand in line?
The gottadeal site is nice because it categorizes all of the items. Looking for a television? Click on that category and you'll see sizes, pricing and where to find them.
Also, check out dealnews.com the early to mid part of Thanksgiving week. Every year they've analyzed the sales, listed the very best deals and compared the prices to other sales during the year.
Don't wait in line for something that's not really a bargain. GPS units are not expected to be discounted much from what they were last year this time so don't waste your time in line just for one of these.
Check out your favorite store's Twitter or Facebook fan pages. They've been listing special preview items and may even offer links to deals or heads up on those deals via this method.
Sign up for text alerts -- stores are also using this method to get the word out. There are also some pretty cool Black Friday apps for the iPhone you should check out as well.
Finally, check your store's Web site late Wednesday night or at least on Thanksgiving. In years past, items have posted here early. If you score one of your gift items online, you'll be getting some much-needed sleep to do some more shopping.
Black Friday isn't the end-all either. Many retailers have already started the season early by offering some great weekend and online daily specials.
A regular visit to any of the sites I listed is a good idea to stay on top of what's out there.