You'll find great deals on computers, vacuums, appliances, and more
By Samantha B. Gordon
August is typically a great month to save on computers, tablets, printers, and other tech devices. As kids start heading back to class, the month tends to be filled with back-to-school shopping sales. And early promotions ahead of Labor Day mean it’s also a good time to shop for seasonal items like grills as well as appliances such as freezers, vacuum cleaners, and dehumidifiers.
Consumer Reports’ market analysts monitor prices each month for all the products we test to determine when they typically become available for less. To find out which ones are bargains during other months of the year, see our calendar of deals.
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Vacuums and Robotic Vacuums
Vacuums, including robotic vacuum cleaners, tend to fall in price in August in part because of early Labor Day sales as well as back-to-school sales that target the dorm crowd. This is an ideal time to finally replace your old one with an upgrade to something better.
There are many different kinds of vacuums. Some are better for hardwood floors while others are better suited for carpets and sucking up pet hair. And robotic vacuums can be a great way to keep things tidy without having to do any work, perfect for college students living on their own for the first time.
Check out the following vacuum deals.
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Stick Vacuum
The deal: $119 at Walmart
CR’s test results: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
This basic corded Bissell vacuum, which originally cost $200, lives up to its name by acing CR’s pet-hair tests. But it struggles to contain fine dust particles, earning a Poor rating on our clean-emissions test. A sizable dustbin cuts down on the number of trips you make to the trash can. The 27-foot power cord is a bit shorter than the standard 30 feet but long enough that you probably won’t have to keep changing outlets as you move around the house. At a little more than 9 pounds, this vacuum is on the heavier side for a stick vac.
Eufy RoboVac 11S
The deal: $140 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Eufy RoboVac 11S robotic vacuum
The Eufy RoboVac 11s cleans carpet well in our tests and leaves very little pet hair. It does even better on bare floors. Though it’s not the most efficient cleaner—testers note that it sometimes scatters debris—it eventually gets the job done, operates quietly, and has a cliff sensor so it won’t tumble down stairs. This robotic vacuum isn’t WiFi-enabled and can’t be used with a smartphone app.
Eufy RoboVac 30C
The deal: $160 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Eufy RoboVac 30C robotic vacuum
This powerful and quiet robotic vacuum is slim enough to fit under most furniture and does a great job at picking up debris. But it requires a longer-than-most run time to get the job done. It can talk to Alexa and Google Assistant to start cleaning cycles with voice commands.
Shark Vertex DuoClean Upright Vacuum
The deal: $450 at Wayfair
CR’s test results: Shark Vertex DuoClean AZ2002
If you need a vacuum that can handle pet hair, you may want to check out the 17-pound Shark Vertex DuoClean, which got high marks in pet-hair tests. It has exceptional suction power and does a solid job containing small dust particles in the dustbin. And the lift-away canister makes it easy to clean out-of-the-way places.
August may be the unofficial end of summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop barbecuing. As we approach Labor Day, you’ll find prices dropping on grills. So whether you want a new charcoal, gas, pellet, or kamado grill, keep an eye out for sales this month.
Prices can range from as little as $100 to more than $3,000, depending on what you want. CR tests grills to fit every cooking style and budget, from portable models you can take camping to larger grills designed to feed an extended family. We produce ratings of more than 150 grills to suit first-time buyers and seasoned grill masters searching for a replacement or an upgrade.
There are three main types of grills to choose from, and each has pros and cons when it comes to cost, ease of use, cleanup, and, most important, how it cooks food. So you’ll want to review our grill buying guide if you’re not sure whether you’d be happiest with a charcoal grill, gas grill, or pellet grill.
Check out the following grill deals.
Dyna-Glo Charcoal Grill
The deal: $221 at Walmart
CR’s test results: Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D charcoal grill
If you love cooking over charcoal but haven’t bothered to upgrade, the Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D charcoal grill, one of the best charcoal grills CR has tested, will be a step up from that rusty old kettle grill. This is the standard sale price we tend to see throughout the season. The grill performs well in CR’s tests for cooking evenness, convenience, and cleaning. And it has a built-in bottle opener, a fun perk.
Kamado Joe Classic Ceramic Grill
The deal: $915 at Walmart
CR"s test results: Kamado Joe Classic II ceramic grill
The Kamado Joe Classic II ceramic grill is the best kamado grill we’ve seen. It offers countless features that make grilling and smoking easier than with other models. For starters, it has a spring-assisted lid that holds in place at any height; most grill lids are either open or closed. The lid also locks, helping control airflow and, in turn, temperature. The upper and lower dampers are easy to adjust, and it has split racks that allow you to cook food at different heights, so you can sear a steak and cook chicken with indirect heat at the same time. And it’s one of the few models that features a pullout tray for ashes, helping it earn an above-average rating for cleaning.
Laptops and Computers
Laptops and computers always tend to go on sale in August for the back-to-school season. And this year is no different. Last year we saw shortages, increased prices, and delayed shipping due to the chip shortages and supply chain disruptions. And while those problems are far less prevalent this year, they haven’t gone away completely. So if you’re shopping online for a new computer, make sure to look at expected shipping times before placing your order. You can also compare prices and look for similar devices if the exact model you want isn’t available or isn’t on sale. Start your search with CR’s buying guide and recommended models.
Check out the following computer and laptop deals.
Acer Chromebook Spin
The deal: $220 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Acer 11 CP311-1HN-C2DV computer
This is a 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook, which means the 11.6-inch display can be bent behind the keyboard via a 360-degree hinge and used like a tablet. Why buy a dedicated tablet if a 2-in-1 has what you need? You’ll find entry-level specs here, including an Intel Celeron processor, 4 gigabytes of memory, and 32GB of storage.
Apple MacBook Air
The deal: $900 at Amazon and Best Buy
CR’s test results: Apple MacBook Air 13-inch laptop
This 2021 MacBook Air offers strong performance in a highly portable package. This is the base model, which has 8 gigabytes of memory and 256GB of solid-state storage. It uses Apple’s new M1 processor, delivering not only fast performance but also up to 12.5 hours of battery life on a charge. The laptop weighs less than 3 pounds.
Dell Inspiron i5410
The deal: $880 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Dell Inspiron i5410 (Core i7)
Dell’s Inspiron laptops usually do well in our tests and typically offer midrange or better specs in a reliable package. The 14-inch Dell Inspiron i5410 has an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, 8GB of memory, and 512GB of solid-state storage. Our model swaps an Intel Core i7 for this one’s Ryzen, but we expect them to perform similarly.
For more discounts: Best Deals on Laptops, Chromebooks, and Tablets
As with laptops and computers, tablet sales are also prominent this month. When choosing the best one, consider how you plan to use it. If you want to watch Netflix or edit photos, look for something with a larger, higher-quality screen. If you just want to do simple tasks, such as playing games and browsing the web, you don’t need to spend a ton. Other factors to consider are battery life, storage size (and expansion options), size, weight, and processor power.
Check out the following tablet deals.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3
The deal: $446 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 is our top-rated small Android tablet. iPads beat just about every other tablet in our tests, but an Android model could be appealing if you have an Android phone because it may be easier to sync up your apps, texts, and other information across multiple devices. It gets great ratings for performance and it has a solid display.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
The deal: $580 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
The Galaxy Tab S8 is a great option for people who want an Android tablet with a little extra performance. This is an impressive price for a high-performance tablet. Just keep in mind that’s probably not necessary for simple tasks such as reading email, watching movies, and surfing the web. The Galaxy Tab S7 is also on sale if you need a fast device but want something a little cheaper.
A good wireless router can help boost your WiFi signal, eliminate any dead spots in your home, and ensure that everyone in the family can stream, play, and otherwise spend time online uninterrupted. August is a great month to find a new router for less.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a new router, including the size of your home and cybersecurity protections. Start with CR’s buying guide, which walks you through all the factors to consider.
Check out the following router deals.
Netgear Orbi Mesh Router System
The deal: $97 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Netgear Orbi AC1200
The three-unit Netgear Orbi AC1200 mesh router system performs well in our tests overall. But it doesn’t rate quite as high for speed at midrange and far distances, and it isn’t compatible with the WiFi 6 standard, which might not be ideal for early adopters who want the fastest connections to the latest smartphone and other gadgets. (Don’t worry about compatibility, though; all new devices work with the earlier WiFi standard.) Given the relatively low price, however, there’s a lot to like here, including an easy app-based setup, a built-in Ethernet port, and automatic firmware updates, which protect you from hackers, malware, and other security vulnerabilities.
TP-Link Deco Mesh Router System
The deal: $150 at Amazon
CR’s test results: TP-Link Deco Whole Home (three-pack)
This three-unit system is a CR Best Buy, which means it scores well in our tests and is quite affordable compared with other options in this category. The sale price makes it an even better deal. The model offers six Ethernet ports to provide a wired internet connection for gadgets such as a printer, game console, or smart home hub or bridge.
You can find a budget microwave oven for $50 or you can spend upward of $1,000 on a high-end model that can be built into your kitchen cabinetry. But what’s important is the microwave’s ability to reheat and defrost food, and not all models are created equal in that regard. So it’s a good idea to check out CR’s test results and ratings before you buy a new model.
The type of microwave is important to consider as well. Countertop models are the most versatile, and there are over-the-range options as well. This may be something to consider if and when you remodel your kitchen.
There are features to look for, too. Do you want the more common turntable or a sliding tray that may be better for reheating larger dishes? Do you need a rack? What wattage is best? Our buying guide can help you determine the best options for your budget.
Check out the following microwave oven deal.
LG NeoChef Microwave Oven
The deal: $90 at Appliances Connection and Best Buy
CR’s test results: LG NeoChef LMC1575ST microwave oven
This microwave touts a feature called a “Smart Inverter” that aims to provide more even cooking, and CR’s test results found it does, in fact, do a solid job at cooking things evenly. It also performed well in our defrosting tests as well as in cooking speed.
As summer weather peaks, dehumidifiers tend to drop in price. They’re great for drying out the air in your home on muggy days, which can help you feel less sticky. Dehumidifiers can also take that damp feeling out of a basement or laundry room, and prevent a few other sticky situations. Humidity levels above 50 percent can breed dust mites, mildew, and mold, triggering allergies or other health problems.
When choosing a dehumidifier, you’ll want to determine what capacity you need for your space. Large-capacity machines can work in smaller spaces, but small- or medium-capacity dehumidifiers may be more efficient. Read CR’s dehumidifier buying guide to learn more about what to look for.
If a printer is on your back-to-school shopping list, you may be able to find a deal on a top model this month, whether you need one that can scan and fax or just want something basic to print occasionally. But demand has been high for printers since the start of the pandemic, so if you do spot a sale, you’ll want to act fast before it’s sold out.
There are two main types of printers: laser and inkjet. Some may be able to make copies or offer wireless printing over WiFi. CR’s buying guide can give you a more in-depth look at the different options and the best models so that you’ll be ready to jump on it when the printer you want goes on sale.
Check out the following printer deal.
Canon ImageClass Black-and-White Laser Printer
The deal: $142 at Amazon
CR’s test results: Canon ImageClass MF232w printer
Prepping for back-to-school season? This all-in-one laser printer gets high scores for text quality, speed, and scan quality. And that makes it a workhorse for tasks like printing forms, homework assignments, and athletic schedules. Better yet, it’s relatively inexpensive to operate. Our testers estimate that typical users will spend only about $14 per year on toner. The Canon brand has impressive predicted brand reliability and owner satisfaction ratings. Just note that this printer can connect to only one device at a time.
The average price of a stand-alone freezer tends to fall in August. But this year you may not see as many chances to save if you’re in the market for a new one. Because of the pandemic, a lot of people bought secondary freezers in the spring to stock up on supplies, creating an increased demand. We’ve seen very few—if any—deals on freezers this year, but at least they’re in stock again and might possibly see some price drops this month.
Blood Pressure Monitors
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, doesn’t have any obvious symptoms, but it can increase the risk of a heart attack, a stroke, kidney disease, and a number of other serious health problems. And though your doctor checks your blood pressure at every checkup, a single reading might not be giving you the full picture.
If you want to keep a closer eye on your blood pressure, you can get an at-home blood pressure monitor. Consumer Reports has tested 28 models, comparing their readouts with those of a mercury sphygmomanometer (the device that’s considered the gold standard in blood pressure testing) as well as testing ease of use, comfort, and convenience.
Most models usually cost between $40 and $100, and they often fall in price this time of year. You can choose between upper-arm and wrist monitors, both of which can have a number of different features, though keep in mind that our tests have found that upper-arm monitors tend to be more accurate than wrist models. Our in-depth blood pressure monitor buying guide is a great place to start your research.
Even if you don’t have a ton of clothes that need pressing after they come out of the dryer, it’s good to have an iron at the ready. Steam irons tend to drop in price this month, so if you need a new one, this is the perfect time to look.
Steam irons can cost $15 to $150. Though cheaper models we’ve tested in the past haven’t performed all that well, you can find decent options for closer to $50 that can compete with more expensive models.
We don’t currently test steam irons, but we have a buying guide you can read to learn more about your options and what to look for when you shop.
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