The 10 Hottest Deals of 2011: From a TRON Light Cycle to a Free Steak Dinner

By , dealnews Senior Content Editor

Sing along with us! Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Well, maybe. But we'll never, ever miss or forget a hot deal — and we saw plenty of outrageous bargains in 2011. And so to reflect on some of the things we bought on sale (and those that we wish we had), dealnews brings you the Top 10 Hottest Deals of 2011. The following bargains immediately shot to 5-hotness on the site and, in many cases, vanished within hours — or even minutes — as extremely desirable deals often do.

In addition to the ranking, we've also noted possible trends associated with each deal. We'll admit that select deals were simply just that good, with no real rhyme or reason to them (other than to make you wish you had memorized your credit card information). Other sales were the product of certain circumstances, some of which may cause these amazing deals to reappear in 2012.

So, which deals were the crème de la (deal) crème last year? Read on!

  1. HP TouchPad 10" 16GB and 32GB WiFi WebOS Tablets
    Vendor: Best Buy
    Price: $100 and $150, respectively
    Shipping: Free shipping
    Post Date: August 21

    When HP announced that it was terminating support for WebOS in late August, it spelled the demise of the HP TouchPad, which prompted a fire sale of Black Friday proportions; prices plummeted by at least $231 under previous all-time lowest prices. Best Buy's initial offer for the HP TouchPad 10" WiFi WebOS Tablet still stands as not only the best price we've seen, but also as our most popular deal of the year. (And it barely lasted 90 minutes!) We later saw similar deals, and they were just as elusive including two more offers from OnSale via Amazon and Cost Central. These sales lasted 30 minutes and two hours, respectively, and were priced at least $6 higher than Best Buy's.

    Since August, we've published two more TouchPad deals, including a very limited in-store offer on Black Friday, and a sale on refurbished units from HP's eBay store a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, WebOS is no longer dead in the water, as it has since become an open-source platform. That could potentially result in the creation of more WebOS devices in the future, or even revive support for the TouchPad. For now, the economical — yet hard-to-find — HP TouchPad remains the sole option for anyone who wishes to experience the WebOS platform via tablet.

    So will we see a 10" $100 WiFi TouchPad again? It depends on what kind of stock retailers are still holding on to. At the very least, these few promoted TouchPad deals have proven to be a surefire way for retailers to create an immediate shopping frenzy. Therefore, if any reseller does still have some in stock, they'd do well to hold onto them for a carefully-planned promotion.

  2. GE Front-Load Washer and Dryer
    Vendor: Home Depot
    Price: $149 each
    Shipping: Free shipping
    Post Date: November 26

    We did a double-take when we saw this offer; it seemed way too good to be true ... even on Black Friday! The 4-cubic-foot washer, was listed for $149, which became the all-time low price for any front-loading washer, and was $250 under a mention from the previous day. The 7-cubic-foot dryer was $374 less than the best price we could find elsewhere. Prior to Black Friday weekend, we saw prices sink to as low as $499 for similar laundry appliances.

    Unfortunately for anyone hoping to see this price again, we consider this deal an anomaly — and a brief one at that, as it only lasted an hour — because a washer and dryer set for under $300 is a steal. (That's provided Home Depot honored the price unlike some retailers we know.)

  3. Free Steak Dinner at Outback Steakhouse
    Post Date: August 24

    Crikey! This Australian-themed establishment offered 1 million steak dinners for free in August. All you had to do was fill out a form in four minutes or less. (Oh, the pressure!) Vouchers were mailed to speedy/lucky/hungry customers, who could then turn them into meat-and-potatoes at their nearest Outback location.

    We see our share of food-and-drink freebies on dealnews, but seldom do we see whole entrees for absolutely nothing, and with no real catch involved. We wouldn't mind if this deal boomeranged back soon.

  4. $15 iTunes Gift Card for $8
    Vendor: OnSale
    Price: $8
    Shipping: Free shipping
    Post Date: July 1

    This daily deal site (a sister site of PC Mall) made quite a first impression when it launched in July, offering an iTunes gift card for 50% off. This deal lasted just slightly longer than Rebecca Black's 15 minutes of fame, but it was extremely popular in its brief time on the site as it was (and still is) the best percent-off discount we've seen for an iTunes gift card.

    Could we see it again though? Discounts on iTunes gift cards were rather common in recent months, with markdowns of up to 30% off list prices. That surge in markdowns however may be due to the holiday shopping season, as iTunes cards are a popular gift idea for the iOS devotee (or devotee-to-be). Now that the season has passed, our archives suggest that deals on iTunes gift cards will likely become a lot less common.

  5. $20 Credit at Amazon for $10
    Vendor: Living Social
    Price: $10
    Post Date: January 19

    Amazon credits are not uncommon, but they're typically bundled with select items or made available via Twitter, and only valid on designated purchases (such as MP3 downloads). However, in January, Living Social provided a $20 credit at 50% off. Even better, it could be applied to most items sitewide. It comes as no surprise that a credit for use at the most deal-friendly online retailer would garner a high level of hotness, even throughout the wee hours of the morning. (The sale commenced at around 1 am, and expired approximately eight hours later.)

    It's been almost one year since we saw this deal, and we're keeping our fingers crossed for a repeat offer (or something stronger) in 2012.

  6. Spend $25 with an American Express Card, Get a Free Gift
    Post Date: November 27

    This Gift Chain promotion, which kicked off on Cyber Monday, made online shopping worthwhile for American Express cardholders. Unlike similar deals we've seen from AmEx — which offered cash back or statement credits — cardholders could potentially receive some Editors' Choice-worthy offers if they made a purchase from participating online stores, such as Toys "R" Us, Walmart, and Zappos. These gifts were selected at random, and included a $500 American Express gift card to Lenovo, a 1-year membership to ShopRunner, and a $500 AmEx gift card that you could share with up to three Facebook friends, if you were feeling generous. T'was the season, after all.

    For cardholders who were doing a majority of their holiday shopping online, this was truly the gift that kept on giving. We'll likely see more American Express offers in the new year, but whether they'll have the potential to match some of the gifts from this special holiday promotion (or come close) remains to be seen.

  7. Groupon Lunch Deals for $1
    Post Date: November 18

    I once had a teacher whose favorite saying was, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." Alas, this Groupon deal came very close to proving him wrong. In mid-November, restaurants in select major cities, in conjunction with the widely-popular daily deal site, offered lunch specials for a buck — a savings of up to $24. For those who bought the offer and, for one reason or another, couldn't redeem it within the allotted time period, Groupon promised to make good by providing a refund on unused credits.

    This was the first — and only — $1 lunch special we've seen from Groupon to date. We are crossing our fingers that we can stretch four more quarters on super cheap eats from Groupon in 2012. (But we'll admit: We're secretly dreading the long waits and lines.)

  8. Full-Size Tron: Legacy Light Cycle (Street Legal)
    Vendor: Hammacher Schlemmer
    Price: $55,000
    Post Date: August 17

    Hammacher Schlemmer has an array of interesting items, including a 20-foot animatronic triceratops, an acoustic immersion pod, and an authentic New York hot dog vendor cart. (By the way, I just referenced a portion of my Christmas list this year.) However, our readers' (and our staff's) favorite item from this specialty store is a Light Cycle inspired by the movie Tron: Legacy. Billed as "friggin awesome" (by us), this vehicle is, "designed for casual cruising and slow ride-bys at shows." We've yet to find a light cycle for less elsewhere, excluding ones that are designed to fit in the palm of your hand.

    If you managed to save your pennies wisely (which isn't far-fetched since you read dealnews), you can still score one of these rides for yourself. Warning: You will have to talk to a "product specialist" over the phone.

  9. Select 1-way Fares for $11 at JetBlue
    Post Date: February 8

    JetBlue is no stranger to dealnews readers; we typically see 1-way fares for between $29 and $49 before applicable taxes and fees. However, in February, those prices dipped to as low as $11. Outside of an April mention that featured $9 fares between Boston and Newark, it's the lowest price we've seen for nationwide JetBlue flights this year. (Several months prior to this mention, we saw $10 1-way fares.) This was an ideal offer for anyone seeking a Valentine's Day weekend getaway. (Or, alternatively, those who so desired to get away from Valentine's Day.)

    We trust that we'll continue to see JetBlue fares on the cheap next year, and within the price range to which we're accustomed. Another $11 fare sale would be more than welcome, particularly to recuperate from the holiday season, but that rate seems unlikely.

  10. $40 newegg Credit for $20
    Vendor: Google Offers
    Price: $20
    Post Date: November 28

    Much like Amazon, newegg usually bundles credits with video games, computer hardware, televisions, and other items. This Cyber Monday deal from Google Offers was the first time we had ever seen a standalone newegg credit. As expected, it was a short-lived promotion, as it expired within 66 minutes of hitting our site.

    Regarding whether or not we'll see such a rare offer again, well, it could very well be possible, but we won't hold our breath.

Did you take advantage of any of the above deals? Or is there a bargain that tops your personal list of awesome 2011 buys that didn't make our cut? Let us know in the comments below.

And from all of us at dealnews, we thank you for your continued support in 2011, and wish you a very happy 2012!

Front page photo credit: The Bucket List

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


Leave a comment!

or Register
Alison Barretta (DealNews)
Thanks for the kudos! Glad we could be of service to you. Happy New Year ... and Happy New Deals!
The overall hottest deal for us this year has been the totally free service that provides! Dealnews has saved us so much money on everything from free Kindle books, to everyday linens, to a big TV. Thanks again, Dealnews team--have a Fantastic New Year!