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Notes from a Shopping Trip to Best Buy On the Sunday after Black Friday

Even though it was the Sunday after Black Friday, the Best Buy store was quite busy

By PETER WHITE

Published: 9 December, 2010

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Even though it was the Sunday after Black Friday, the Best Buy store was quite busy. The busiest sections were for Apple devices, smartphones and TV sets.

1. It was impossible to find someone in Best Buy who was knowledgeable about Western Digital’s $200 WD TV Live Hub, the one with the 1 TB hard drive, 1080p and a number of popular widgets. Surprisingly it does not come with Wi-Fi, only an Ethernet connector. Like the Logitech Revue box, a Web camera can be connected for video phone calls. Unlike the Revue, it does not come with a keyboard but can support a wired or wireless one.

It competes against Apple TV, Google TV and all the other media adapters but did not appear to be selling well even though its display was in a decent location next to the Apple department.

Google TV’s claim to fame is its full Web browsing. It can display any Web content except for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Viacom and Hulu, at least for the moment.

The $300 Revue comes with a full wireless keyboard but surprisingly not with the small remote, the one that is a TV remote on one side and a full but tiny keyboard on the other. It’s $149 extra. A Logitech Web camera is $149 extra.

3. LG had assigned a rep to the store, working in LG’s allotted space to explain its smart TV sets. He could not, however, explain why they don’t come with Wi-Fi built-in or let owners use a standard Wi-Fi adapter. Instead they must purchase an $80 Wi-Fi dongle that’s unique to LG TVs and Blu-ray players.

4. The CD section in Best Buy has been substantially reduced, no doubt due to online sales of music, and the space is used to expand the displays for Blu-ray movies and TV shows. There are a lot of them. You can’t get Blu-ray quality movies over the Internet, at least not yet.

5. Rocketfish (Best Buy’s brand for its home networking products) HomePlug routers were selling well, according to a sales rep. They have four Ethernet ports for connecting smart TV sets, Blu-ray players, Apple TVs and such via powerline to the home’s network hub.

6. Large TVs are selling well, considering how many people were backing up to the front door of Best Buy to load one. It’s amazing how many pickup trucks there are in the South, as widespread as Jaguars, Mercedes, Lexus and Range Rovers are on Long Island. The local paper had a picture of the checkout lines at Target on Saturday that showed about 20% of the carts with large TV sets on Black Friday. Another picture on Monday showed about the same percentage.

7. What would I buy, based on what I saw and know? It would be a Sony Google TV, except that I recently bought a smart LED TV. Instead I would buy the Logitech Revue because the full Android Internet browser and Google search are attractive. The two Apple TVs I have don’t do that. The original Apple TV has one important advantage over both Netflix on smart TVs and the new Apple TV: users can buy and permanently keep movies and TV shows.

By Charles Hall editor of the Rider Research Online Reporter publication

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