On Black Friday, we’re all guilty of buying some pretty useless stuff. Allow us to help point you in the direction of some actually useful deals.
What I’m talking about here are purchases that will be invaluable over the next few years for anybody to pick up right now. Some of these are essentials to living a portable tech lifestyle, and others increase the value of your time online and your security.
1. A dirt cheap VPN will increase the value of your subscriptions
You can make the most of streaming services and their libraries across the globe with one of the best VPNs, and you best believe the discounts are mighty tasty.
We’re tracking all the best VPN deals throughout the Black Friday season and prices have been tumbling down. ExpressVPN is 35% off (opens in new tab), NordVPN is 68% off (opens in new tab), and SurfShark is a massive 84% off (opens in new tab).
Whatever your use case, VPNs are priced so low that the opportunities granted by them give you a return on investment quickly!
2. Secure savings on LastPass
If you are working across different brand devices and software (for example: I have an iPhone 13 Pro, use Google Chrome on my M1 MacBook Pro, and use Firefox on my Steam Deck), then you are fully aware of the pain point that is having multiple passwords.
That’s where LastPass comes in — granting access to all of your passwords from a single vault across all your devices. Each one is randomized by LastPass themselves, encrypted and stored on the company’s servers. Plus, you get an active Dark Web search, too, which scours these areas for any sharing/selling of your login information.
Starting right now (it just went live) you can get 25% off a LastPass subscription (opens in new tab).
3. Keep yourself secure with antivirus software price cuts
Every time we write about one of the many cybersecurity risks we spot, website traffic spikes. It’s clear that a lot of you are concerned about your personal information being compromised, which is why beyond a password manager, antivirus software is an incredibly useful Black Friday buy.
And no, I’m not talking about just paying through the nose for an annoying virus scanner on your PC or MacBook, which doesn’t do anything above and beyond the OS’ built-in version. I’m talking about multi-device subscription services that offer protection across all your devices.
Norton 360 does just that — going beyond the standard desktop virus scanner and offering additional benefits like a firewall, parental controls and even an active Dark Web search that notifies you if it spots your details being shared around in this more nefarious corner of the internet.
As of right now, you can get up to 66% off all of Norton’s antivirus subscription packages (opens in new tab).
4. Expand your a portable external SSD
Sometimes, when deciding on the spec of your new laptop, you have to figure out a balance between storage and power potential. For example, if you were to buy a MacBook Pro directly from Apple (given the Black Friday MacBook deals available elsewhere, I’d recommend against it), a 14-inch MacBook Pro with the beefier 10-core CPU/16-core GPU version of the M1 Pro and 1TB SSD is the same price as the 16-inch model with the same processor and half the storage.
Take this compromise off the table and give yourself plenty of storage to be used across devices with a portable external SSD. Let me be clear: an SSD, not a HDD which may be cheaper in the sales but are legendarily unreliable.
My daily driver is the SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD (opens in new tab), which is now $180 over at Amazon.
5. Keep your laptop protected on the go
I don’t need to make the case for a laptop case, as you all already know that it’s a must-buy for keeping your portable system protected when out and about.
But if you’ve just not thought about getting one because you use it at home all the time, Black Friday is a pretty ideal time to pick one up. When it comes to a case, we don’t need to look for style, though there are some flashier options available in the Black Friday sale.
All we need is enough cushioning for any drop impact and the versatility to be carried anywhere easily. For that, all you need to do is go for the AmazonBasics option (opens in new tab) — available in a huge range of sizes for whatever laptop you have, and with the options to use either the handle or a shoulder strap.
6. Back up — you can get a great backpack for super cheap!
So you have a laptop case, which is cool. But the next big purchase for not just taking your laptop around, but also all of your accessories is a backpack.
We’ve already picked the best backpacks for your hard-earned money, and a lot of these are being discounted. For example, the Nordace Sienna (opens in new tab), which is an ideal one-day rucksack, is 36% off, and you can get the far bigger Tomtoc travel backpack for $13 off (opens in new tab).
7. Docking in
The number of ports on laptops seems to be dwindling. Some prosumer devices still keep things impressively versatile, but in other situations, a USB hub or docking station is critical.
We have a list of the best docking stations for use at home, with my daily driver, the UGREEN 13-in-1 dock already being discounted (opens in new tab). As for portable USB hubs, you can already get 15% off the dirt cheap Anker 7-in-1 hub (opens in new tab) that offers all the ports you’d need.
But more broadly, you can expect so many docking station and portable hub deals to appear this week — spanning all kinds of specs and capabilities!
8. Powering up
Whether you’re like me working on the go in so many random places like the pub (a good excuse to grab a pint) or my partner who’s constantly draining your phone’s battery with extensive Pokémon GO sessions, a portable battery is an essential purchase.
We’ve already listed the best laptop power banks, but a lot of these deals have already come and gone, so let me go into two that I love.
First, the Anker PowerCore III Elite — a beasty 19,000 mAh capacity with 60W charging capabilities and a USB-C power brick included in the package, which is handy not just for charging the battery, but for charging any other device. So far, the deals on this haven’t started in the U.S., but at a price of just £79 in the U.K (opens in new tab)., you can expect it to get cheap in the states.
And second, the Shargeek Storm 2 is arguably the nerd’s choice for its fascinating transparent design and fast charge capabilities. The IPS display gives you all the info you need about the battery and the huge 25,600 mAh capacity is more than enough for a few days of charging. Right now, it’s down to $179 on Shargeek’s website (opens in new tab).
9. Keep your (lap) cool
Some laptops should not be used directly on your lap. Just take a look underneath and chances are there are fans and vents on the bottom side that relies on ground clearance to draw in air.
What’s the answer? A laptop tray. I’ve used countless items like TV dinner trays and even pieces of cardboard (shout-out to my University days), but laptop trays are super cheap around Black Friday, and they can provide increased usability like a built-in mouse mat, and slots for your phone.
The one I use comes from a company called HUANUO (catchy, I know), which is available for 20% off right now (opens in new tab). Not only does this one offer everything I mentioned above, but there is also a ton of cushioning for nice ergonomic usability when away from your desk in other rooms.
10. Hey, good looking
If you’ve read the webcam section on any of our laptop reviews, you’ve read them all. At best, the built-in camera offers a decent picture that’s good enough for family video calls. But most of the time, it’s just a 720p potato.
To combat this, you need a webcam — preferably something that is strong enough to offer versatility in what you may want to do, be it looking good on Zoom calls or maybe even some casual streaming.
For sure, there are better, newer, and more expensive options, but for price-to-performance, these have stood the test of time in providing good color, a decent contrast ratio, and sharpness in the 1080p picture they produce.
And the best bit? They are being discounted heavily for Black Friday — the PowerConf C300 is now $99/£72 at Amazon (opens in new tab), and the C922 Pro (with a free tripod) for $69/£72 at Amazon (opens in new tab).