Don't buy crap tablets

You owe it to yourself to avoid buying something terrible.

We've all been there, scrolling down the list of sales online or flipping through the heap of ads that arrive in the newspapers that week. A tablet that was "regularly priced at $299" is going to be available for $50, but only to the first 20 people in line who ask for them. That tablet never cost $299. The store probably didn't spend $299 to get those 20 units into the store to trick you into buying in the first place. If you go stand in line for that tablet, you will come home to find little more than sadness in the box.

Let's get this out of the way right here and now — there is no such thing as a good cheap tablet on Black Friday. They don't exist, and any company trying to sell you one knows you're going to get more use out of the box that tablet comes in than you will the hardware contained within.

If you are dead set on purchasing any kind of technology on Black Friday, here's what you need to know.

If it seems like too good a deal, it probably is

If there's one thing we can say for sure about this past year, it's that manufacturers have gotten very good at pricing Android phones at tablets low enough that they're appealing every day of the year and not just on special sales. The inherent downside to this is the decrease in likelihood the established brands will have extreme sales on proven hardware that was released this year, because these devices were already sold close to cost.

The only time you'll see any significant discount on Android hardware right now is when a manufacturer is trying to get rid of stock. This isn't always a bad thing, but requires some research to make sure you aren't buying garbage. The HTC Nexus 9 is a perfect example, especially with some of the deep discount sales we've seen on this tablet over the last couple of months. While not explicitly Android related, the HTC RE Cam is another good example of something nice that will likely also be cheap. These things weren't necessarily worth it for one reason or another when they were released, but at discounted rates the tech becomes significantly more compelling.

Pay attention to bundle deals

Since the cost of hardware has come down, retailers are likely to rely heavily on bundle deals for those first in line this year. This usually means a tablet will be priced nearly identically to what you'll see in stores, but it comes with several accessories to create the value. With a tablet, this could be anything from cases to docs to screen protectors, which you'd basically be getting for free with the cost of your tablet.

Bundle deals like these are usually assembled by the individual stores based on the stock they have available, and will often only be available when the doors open or for hour windows during the store's normal hours of operation. It's also the kind of thing you won't see advertised until you're in the store, depending on what is available. You best bet here is to stop into a store the day before and ask about these bundles so you can see which are the best bet for you.

What to look for when shopping

So you now know what not to buy. Here's a short checklist for a tablet worth your money. Follow this, and you'll be gifting something anyone would be happy with for quite a while.

  • Know what you want: If you know you're looking for a tablet, make sure you've answered a few basic questions before you head into the store. What is this tablet being used for? What accessories are needed with this tablet? How long will this tablet be used? The answers to these questions will narrow down your list a bit, and make choosing in the store much easier.

  • Pay attention to brand names: Tablets aren't like those bags of cereal that taste just as good as the big brands. These little computers are usually sold just about as cheaply as they can be from the beginning, which means companies who are able to get a brand new tablet way down in price are either selling ta a huge loss or cutting corners with the internal hardware. With a major brand, you know it's usually the former. With a brand you've never heard of, you can be sure it's the latter.

  • Look for Google apps: Unless you're buying an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, you want to keep an eye out for Google's apps on any tablet you want to buy. Not only does this guarantee this tablet will have access to the latest apps, but it means this tablet has passed a rigorous series of tests Google requires in order to install those apps. If you see the Google Play Store or the Gmail app on the homescreen, you know this is something running software Google trusts.

  • Don't buy something old: You'll see this a lot with Samsung tablets this time of year, but there are several manufacturers with this issue. Old tablets taking up space will be sold for next to nothing, and unfortunately that probably means the hardware is already showing signs of age and isn't as likely to get software updates for more than a couple of months. Do a quick search to see when the tablet was released, and that will help you determine whether you're actually getting a deal.

  • Read some reviews: If a tablet is reputable and sitting on a store shelf, there will be reviews online for it. Read a couple so you get a good idea for what the tablet is capable of. While we'd obviously love for you to start here at Android Central, you really should read more than one if you're trying to decide which tablet will give you best experience.

If you don't see what you want on Black Friday, there are still plenty of deals to be found

Retailers have figured out there's plenty of other shopping days in the year, so if you don't find the tablet you're looking for on Black Friday it's not the end of the world. You don't have to settle on something less because it's available right then and there. You can keep an eye on all of the retail websites, and you'll find there will be plenty of great sales between Black Friday and Christmas Day. Do that, and you'll be sure to get the tablet you actually want at a reasonable price this year.

Buying anything during the holiday season can be a little on the stressful side, but tablets are one of those things that are almost always available and on sale in some fashion. You're bound to find what you want if you know where to look, and with this guide as your holiday helper this purchase will hopefully be much easier on everyone.