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More early Amazon Prime Day deals in the US launched today, more than a week before the official July 16 and 17 start date.

We're highlighting 4KTVs on sale from TCL (one of our favorites) at at least 10%, but for Saturday only. You can also save $100 on the most advanced Amazon Echos speaker.

Amazon.com discount will peak at noon Pacific on July 16, the start time of Prime Day 2018, and run through the end of the 36-hour sales marathon. But you can find several deals this weekend.

Prime Day 2018 will be the best time to buy Amazon Echo speakers and a brand new 4KTV before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It's become an increasingly important online shopping day in America.

But you may be asking questions: How long will Amazon Prime Day last? What time does it start? What items will see deep discounts? What are the best Prime Day deals for 2018? We’ve created an in-depth guide in time for July 16.

Prime Day 2018 is going to add to the net worth of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and to the value of Amazon, Inc. and its third-party marketplace sellers. More importantly, it's a chance for America's No. 1 online retailer  to install Echo speakers, Fire tablets, and Fire TVs in your budding smart home, all in an effort to continue having you pay for that ever-important Amazon Prime subscription.

Ready? Here’s how to get the best prices out of your Prime membership this month.

When is Amazon Prime Day?

Early Amazon Prime Day deals

Amazon routinely starts Prime Day with early deals leading up to the actual date, and 2018 is no different. We're already seeing savings on its most expensive Echo speakers, with $100 off the original list price.

What deals can we expect on Prime Day 2018?

The best Amazon Prime Day always surround its own products, so that means we're in for deals on Amazon Echo speakers. We anticipate all-time low priced for $50 Echo Dot ($25 maybe?) and the Amazon Echo Spot (fingers crossed for $80). The latter will be entering its first-ever Prime Day.

Besides nearly guaranteed Amazon Echo deals, you can anticipate other Amazon gadgets on sale: Kindles, Fire TV Sticks, and Fire Tablets. The unmentioned goal of Prime Day is to sneak as many Amazon products and services into your home as possible.

That said, you may also see Amazon's chief rival, Google, compete with a price match on the Google Home smart speaker, as we predicted: Why Amazon Prime Day will also be the best time to get a Google Home Mini. Google is playing the same game with its Echo-rivaling smart speaker.

And that Amazon Fire TV Cube that was just announced in the US for $119.99 could get a warm reception on Amazon Prime Day, luring new customers into the Amazon Prime family. We predict Amazon may have an epic discount if you buy two of these, as it has done for Echo Show speakers in the past. We've hold off on buying, as we've noted in Why we're waiting until Amazon Prime Day to buy the Fire TV Cube.

Nintendo Switch may be getting its first big discounts for Amazon prime Day even though it was only recently that it was  nearly impossible to buy in stores. We're even more certain that PS4 and Xbox One console bundles will see a price drop, or at least come with more value-added games to sweeten existing bundle deals. Microsoft's Xbox One X and Sony's PS4 Pro are competing heavily, which is no doubt good for everyone else on a day like Prime Day 2018. That's why we've also written about waiting for an Xbox One X Prime Day deal.

Philips Hue bulbs are a great way to upgrade your home into a smart home. That can be expensive at full price, so we're waiting until July 16 and 17 to see how many of the multi-colored lighting solutions we can scoop up.

Cheap 4K TVs are a staple of every sales holiday, and Amazon Prime Day is no different here. We're already running a US cheap TV page. Expect even lower prices from manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and TCL, to name a few..

The Echo and Echo Dot were the most-bought items last Prime Day

What is Amazon Prime Day?

Amazon Prime Day is the retailer's big members-only summer sale and it's been a massive success in the few short years it's been going. If you want to get involved with the best discounts though, you'll need to be a member of Amazon Prime. With free next-day delivery on thousands of items and the excellent Amazon Instant Video streaming service being just two of the membership's key highlights, millions of you are already signed up.

Brilliantly though, you can always sign up for a free 30-day trial to take advantage of the sale and other membership benefits. And if you don't want to continue the service after Prime Day, just cancel the trial before the 30 days are up. Amazon know too well that many shoppers will find it hard to say goodbye to those super perks though.

More people signed up for Prime on Prime Day last year than on any other day in Amazon’s history. As of April 2018, Amazon confirmed it had passed 100 million subscribers for Amazon Prime, that's up from around 80 million before Prime Day last year and 58 million in 2016. That's some pretty incredible year-on-year growth for the last few years. We wouldn't be surprised to see Amazon Prime's 2018 numbers grow dramatically again by the time Prime Day arrives.

Amazon also reported that sales via the Amazon app more than doubled year-on-year and "tens of millions of people" used the app to buy items last Prime Day.

So is Amazon Prime Day just another Black Friday? Actually, no. As Amazon puts it, Black Friday is largely about gifts for other people (it's ok, we had a laugh at that too) – it takes place just at the start of the Christmas shopping season – but Prime Day is all about treating yourself.

The overwhelming majority of decent deals on Prime Day were on things you might buy for yourself or for your home. As you’ll see from the best sellers there were lots of smart home devices sold to Prime customers as well as quite a lot of kitchen gear. There were good deals on laptops and consoles too of course, but they were alongside deals on hammocks, juicers, robot vacuum cleaners and pressure cookers.

Amazon Prime Day 2018: how long will it last?

We know what you’re thinking: Amazon turned Black Friday into Black Friday Deals Week, so there’s no way it would limit Prime Day to just 24 hours. And you’d be right. Last year's Prime Day was 30 hours long starting at 9pm the night before and lasting until 3am the day after. We wouldn't be surprised to see Prime Day 2018 last even longer. Prime Day 2022 may well start before Prime Day 2021 finishes.

Prime Day: do Amazon's rivals respond?

They did. It was Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven and Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A, which offered free food to anybody in an animal costume. Meanwhile eBay threw some shade, with a front page claiming that “Their Prime Deal Is Our Everyday Deal”.

According to research firm Bazaarvoice, 76% of US Prime Day shoppers visited rival retailers to check whether they were getting the best deals. And as PwC Consumer Markets analyst Steve Barr told CNBC, “We are seeing other big box retailers use Prime Day as an opportunity to capture shoppers' appetite for deals and as way to compete against Amazon for share of wallet and mindset.” 

So we won't just be calling out the best Prime Day deals at Amazon, we'll keep an eye on all your favourite retailers to see what bargains they have. At the very least we expect some sneaky price matching from many stores like Walmart, Newegg and Jet in the US.

So are Prime Day deals really real?

As with any sale, some products are end of line stock or things that just aren’t selling (like all those shoddy TVs idiots fight over in supermarkets on Black Friday), but many deals are genuine. Let’s take a look at the US bestseller, the Instant Pot DUO80 pressure cooker. On Prime Day it was $90, and if you check its price history on CamelCamelCamel.com you’ll see that it was tracking at $129 for most of 2017. The camel site is pretty reliable and a great way to check how good a deal really is and it works. It'll also show you how likely a price is to come back around again, meaning your spending budget might be better spent on something with a rarer discount on Prime Day itself.

There’s one big blip in the graph, though: on the 2nd of July it went up to $209.10, dropping back to $129 the following day. If you’re comparing the Prime Day price to the 2nd of July price then the saving is clearly illusory – but compare it to the normal selling price and it’s clearly still a good deal.

Checking other devices can be illuminating, though. Amazon’s Echo Dot is usually $49.99, but it dropped to $39.99 last June, May, December and on Black Friday. The Kindle Paperwhite price goes up and down more often than a kangaroo on a bouncy castle, moving from $119.99 to $99.99 every fortnight or so.

The lesson here, other than “don’t buy Amazon devices at full price”, is that you really need to know the value of what you’re looking at. Some deals, such as the pressure cooker, are genuine (and no doubt arranged with the supplier way in advance to trade margin for volume). Others aren’t necessarily deals you need to race to get, because the devices will be discounted again soon. And as with any sale, forget the RRP/MSRP when you’re looking at the sale price – especially on big ticket items such as televisions. The RRP on those only exists to give retailers a laugh.

Were there any Prime Day problems last year?

As you’d expect from an event this big, not everything went according to plan on Amazon Prime Day last year. Twitter featured many irate users who found that deals didn’t appear at the specified times, while others suggested that Amazon had a “bot problem” with some deals being oversubscribed instantly. Still, others had problems with the app, where deals weren’t sold out but the App’s Add To Cart button didn’t work. There were concerns over some of the deals too. Some deals were more expensive on Prime Day than they were normally, while other deals simply reproduced deals that had been available the day before. And still others were laughable: would an incredible four cents off the $1,799.99 price of a soundbar tempt you to buy? Problems didn’t end at the ordering stage either. While Amazon boasts about the fastest-ever Prime Day delivery of just 14 minutes between ordering and delivery, many of us saw our next-day or two-day deliveries become even longer.

Pro tip from us here at TechRadar: if any of your Amazon Prime delivery dates are longer than they should be, complain to Amazon and you might get something back. A free month of Prime added to your sub for example.

The Fire TV Stick was down to $34.99

Could Amazon do better?

We think so. One of the biggest problem with Prime Day was actually finding the deals, which involved wading through lots of irrelevant products: Amazon ordered its deals by categories, so for example you could choose Computers & Accessories but you couldn’t narrow the selection further to specific kinds of computers or accessories.

Finding interesting deals meant looking past an awful lot of Lightning cables. We're here to make things easier for you though as we'll provide a guide to the very best Amazon Prime Day deals, as it can be a right pain browsing the site if you're not used to navigating it every single day like we are. 

We were a bit disappointed to see deals we did want, such as Philips Hue bulbs, limited to single orders per customer. Presumably it’s to stop them ending up on eBay at a higher price, but Hue’s a system for smart homes, not a single smart lampshade.

The biggest problems were with availability and delivery, though. Amazon or its logistics partners appeared to underestimate demand, and while part of us thinks “fair enough”, the whole point of Prime is its fast delivery. And seeing Lightning Deals disappear before you had time to read them was particularly frustrating. Not everybody is accessing Amazon on a super-speedy broadband network, and logging into the mobile app at the right time to see the deal had already sold out was a particular torture for phone users.

What can we learn about Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

The short answer: not much. Prime Day may be a big deal, but it’s still small potatoes compared to the annual holiday extravaganza – and you can be sure that while many people still won’t have heard of Prime Day, they’re very familiar with Black Friday and maybe Cyber Monday too. Amazon isn’t going to let the Black Friday / Cyber Monday opportunity pass it by: Black Friday 2016 was the first billion-dollar shopping day for mobile payments, with a total of $3.34 billion sold in the US alone. Expect Amazon to be just as enthusiastic about Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 as it was for the last few years. Although truth be told, we reckon the Amazon device deals on Prime Day will be slightly better than Black Friday.

Last year tens of millions of Prime members made a purchase on Prime Day. That was a 50% increase year-on-year

What were the best Prime Day deals last year?

As ever, you can count on us to find the very best Amazon Prime Day deals. Last year's best Prime Day deals included the PS4, high quality headphones and Oral-B  toothbrushes. Other top deals included:

  • Amazon Devices: Echo speakers, Kindles, Fire TV Stick 
  • Pressure cooker: the Instant Pot Duo80 cooker was $40 off 
  • Philips Hue: smart bulbs were 50% off in US
  • LG OLED TV: $700 savings on 65-inch LG OLED TVs in the US

Amazon's warehouse workers had a huge task ahead of them last year with an incredible number of items needing to be shipped for next day delivery via Amazon Prime.

  • Amazon Prime Day sales last year:
  • 3.5 million toys
  • 50,000 TP-Link smart plugs
  • 200,000 dresses
  • 300,000 lightbulbs
  • 100,000 Amazon Launchpad items
  • 45,000 pairs of headphones
  • 32,000 electric toothbrushes
  • 52,000 kitchen items
  • 37,000 power tools

Prime Day on Twitter:

As you can probably imagine, the reaction to Amazon Prime Day on Twitter featured snark and moaning in roughly equal measures. Jeff Grub encouraged everyone to consider the true meaning of Prime Day, Marky Bummers mourned what we’ve lost, and Mila expressed herself through the medium of Muppets. Reverend Scott marvelled at Amazon’s marketing, Christine Hennessey spotted the significance of it all and Jacqueline Herrera stressed the importance of reading the reviews.

Come back to TechRadar on Amazon Prime Day 2018 where we'll once again be listing the best deals so you don't have to suffer the pain of navigating the Amazon website! 

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