Early scans of the Bass Pro Shop Black Friday circular are now available online at BFAds.net and other sites. Like all of these leaked fliers, it's hard to know whether these are final circulars or early drafts, but at least you get a chance to poke around and see if the proposed 'hot deals" are smokin' or not. For example, there are three deals on GPS units, and while one of them is preposterously good, the others are lukewarm. Our advice if you want a GPS unit this year? Sit on your hands and compare deals, because this is shaping up to be a big year for deep-discount GPS units.
For camping and hiking, the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx is a proven hit
Starting at 8:00 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, Bass Pro will be offering the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx. This is an older Garmin GPS for backcountry use; a couple of years ago it was their flagship model, and it's still one of the best-reviewed handheld GPS units around. Bass Pro is selling it as part of a bundle: You get the GPS unit, a case, beltclip, SD memory card and a DVD full of U.S. topographic maps.
At first glance, the $219 price looks pretty high since you can find this unit pretty much anywhere for about $200 (including Amazon.com). The real value-added feature is that DVD full of maps. Bought on its own, the GPSMAP 60CSx only comes with some pre-loaded auto-route maps. If you want more than that -- detailed marine and tidal maps, for example, or perhaps hiking maps for the Colorado Rockies, you'll have to pay extra. That's what makes the Bass Pro bundle a steal -- the included DVD includes topographic maps for th whole U.S., a $100 value.
Two auto GPS deals aren't as exciting
A Black-Friday doorbuster at Bass Pro (6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.), the Garmin nuvi 1450 is a car GPS unit with a larger than average 5-inch screen for $170. We found two issues with this deal. First, we were able to find this GPS at plenty of stores for the same price (or a bit less). At Amazon.com right now it sells for $166.54. But there's another gotcha -- the unit gets so-so reviews. A couple of owners say that it randomly powers down, and a couple of others complain that the routing wasn't very efficient.
As part of the 4-day sale that starts Thanksgiving Day, the Garmin nuvi 265W will go for $100 -- the cheapest GPS deal in Bass Pro's circular. (We review the Garmin nuvi 265WT, which adds live traffic reports.) This is a discontinued Garmin model that's still available in stores, generally for about $40 more. It has a color widescreen and also has the big essential feature you'd be wise to get -- spoken street names. This model is almost identical to the Garmin nuvi 255W, a basic GPS that's highly rated in our auto GPS report. The only difference between them is that the 265W is Bluetooth-enabled (so you make phone calls through its speaker) and the 255W is not. Right now the Garmin nuvi 255W can be had for $110 online.
Bottom line? Hold out for better deals, but the camping bundle is worthwhile
Frankly, we're expecting deeper discounts on basic Garmin auto GPS units like the nuvi 265W and 255W, but if a camping or hiking enthusiast is on your gift list, the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx bundle is a great deal. While you can find the unit itself in stores right now for about the same price, the bonus DVD of U.S. maps makes the unit a lot more usable (and ensures that the recipient will get some use out of it before ponying up for new maps right off the bat).
Stay tuned as we continue to decode Black Friday deals...