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Black Friday: Shopping for overlooked tech essentials

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The holiday shopping season kicks off in earnest this week with Black Friday sales, discounts and doorbusters. You may already be planning your strategies for picking up big-ticket items, but now's a great time to think about more mundane purchases as well.

It's not just big screen TVs and large-ticket homewares that go on deep discount on Black Friday. You can also find some great deals on less sexy but still essential product categories. That's why we thought we'd offer some shopping ideas for items you might not have considered.

Here's a round-up of items that TUAW staffers are looking to buy on the cheap.

Extra Time Machine Drives Hard drives aren't forever, and you want to take good care of your Time Machine backups by regularly feeding them fresh drives every few years. Black Friday is the time of year to pick up drives in quantity for all your computing and backup needs. Don't just think about the drives you need right now. Hard drives are the technology equivalents of pantry staples -- and stocking up when they're cheap is a hedge against events outside your control.

USB 3.0 Hubs If you've picked up a recent computer or are planning to purchase one soon, consider shopping the sales to grab some modern hubs. Although the tech has been around for a while, many TUAW readers are just now making the leap from USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. Grab a hub or two while the sales are hot. Models range from this 28-port monster down to sleek four-port options.

Keyboards Often overlooked, keyboards are one of the hardest working parts of your computer arsenal. If you are an iMac or mini user, now's a great time to shop for an upgrade. There should be some great mouse and keyboard deals this week -- even for your iPad.

Flash Drive Our colleague Randy Nelson points out that flash drives are often overlooked during the shopping festivities. They're generally discounted around now, so picking up a few extra spare units can save you some hassles during the rest of the year. (He also points out, on a non-Mac-related note, that it's also an excellent chance to pick up remote-controlled helicopters.)

Chargers and Battery Power If your accessories drain power like Cookie Monster gobbles chocolate chips, you might consider investing in a quality charging set. You can also pick up cheap AA battery-powered chargers (great in a power outage) like Marco Arment's recommended Tekkeon or the cheaper, extremely green Burro AA charger. It's only $10, which is not that much to pay for peace of mind if you're trying to keep your iPhone alive when the wall sockets are dead.

Printers Michael Jones points out that printers are almost always on sale this week, making it a perfect time to upgrade or replace aging units.

RAM Give your Mac a power boost by investing in RAM. TUAW's Megan Lavey-Heaton writes, "We got a great deal on RAM for my iMac last year." This year shouldn't be any different.

So what are you personally going to be buying? Drop a note in the comments and let us know what other essentials you plan on picking up.

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