Tech round-up for November 24: Black Friday and Cyber Monday, whither HomePod, and home automation in the gift guide

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This week, home automation gift ideas and why Apple’s HomePod won’t be on it. But first, what’s the deal with Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Is there any need to differentiate these things anymore?

Black Friday is nearly over; don’t forget about Cyber Monday

As Black Friday comes to a close, online retailers are looking to promote Cyber Monday, when the deals move online.

One thing that is more appealing about the Monday event is the lack of lines. There’s also no pushing and shoving.

But with so many retailers staking out space online, and having Black Friday sales there, these consumer events are kind of all blurring into one.

If you had no interest in trying to get in on Friday’s bricks-and-mortar craze – or you were actually working today – you can still find some deals through the weekend.

And by Monday there will be another round of price cuts. In keeping with the theme, many of the things promoted on Cyber Monday are consumer electronics, and you can expect to see a variety of things on offer from Amazon, LG, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, and others.

Electronics retailers like Best Buy will be in on the action, too.

As will the app and software developers who create the programs you use everyday. Adobe, for example, has a sale on its annual creative cloud, which gives you a subscription to a suite of design tools including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign.

Apple’s HomePod delayed to 2018

Apple’s got three new iPhones that have hit the market hard – the iPhone X is still hard to find out there – but one of the company’s other holiday gadgets is going to miss its flight.

The HomePod, a wireless speaker that also acts as a hub for Apple’s HomeKit automation system, has been delayed until “early 2018” according to the company.

This is less of a hassle for Canadians, as we weren’t getting the HomePod this year anyway. How much it will delay the eventual Canadian release remains to be seen.

Home automation gift guide

While we’re on the topic of home automation and voice-activated speakers, there are now many options to choose from.

Google Home (regularly $179 but on sale right now for only $99) was joined this year by Google Home Mini, a small, portable speaker that, for only $39, gives you access to Google’s information network.

And last week Amazon announced that Alexa was officially coming to Canada with the entire line of Echo speakers.

The original Echo is now in a second generation with better speaker components and costs $100, while the Dot is a hockey puck-sized version ($50) you can use around the house.

The Echo Plus ($170) adds smart home features.

One of the cool things you can do with the Echos is talk to other rooms in your house where you also have Echos set up. You can call your kids upstairs for dinner, for example. And you can use the Echo to make phone calls, too.

The WEMO Mini Smart Plug from Belkin ($50) works with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home and gives you some out-of-home control over whatever you plug into it.

My other favourite automated home gifts are the Philips Hue LED bulbs which are amazing, and the Dyson 360 eye robot vacuum.

And finally, there’s the Instant Pot, the digital pressure cooker invented in Canada, that has changed cooking around the world. What else can you use to cook a frozen chicken perfectly in only 30 minutes? Instant Pots are between $80 and $100, depending on the volume you want.


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