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Amazon’s 2nd annual Prime Day is coming — here’s everything you need to know

In 2015, Amazon celebrated 20 years of dominating online commerce by instituting Prime Day, a day of sales meant to eclipse America’s greatest celebration of unrestrained spending, Black Friday. Users with Amazon Prime subscriptions would have access to absurd deals on various items, including electronics.

In theory, Prime Day seemed like it would be the best day for tech shopping this side of Cyber Monday. In practice, however, the event proved disappointing to many, drawing ridicule on social media as people criticized the low number of attractive items and mocked bizarre offerings, such as a 55 gallon barrel of personal lubricant. However folks on Twitter may have felt, Amazon itself was not disappointed; the company claimed that it moved even more products than it did on Black Friday, and garnered hundreds of thousands of new Amazon Prime subscribers in the process.

Prime Day is returning on July 12, and Amazon seems to have taken some of the criticism to heart. The site will be offering a much larger stock of electronics than last year, and claims it will move nearly twice as many TVs as it did on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. The latest tech, whether it be TVs or tablets, can be astonishingly expensive, so Prime Day could be a great chance to fill your house with cool gadgets without having to take out a second mortgage.

Of course, if Prime Day 2015 was any indication, there will be plenty of weak deals this year as well. If you don’t want to sift through hundreds of duds to find a good sale, we will be watching Prime Day and highlighting the best deals on tech, so stay tuned for updates.

When does Prime Day begin?

Prime Day officially kicks off at midnight Pacific Time on July 12, so brew a pot of coffee and prepare to throw off your circadian rhythm if you want in on the first deals available. Amazon is offering a smaller selection of sales beginning July 5 and running throughout the week leading up to Prime Day.

How to get access to Prime Day deals

As expected from the name, Prime Day deals are only available to users with an Amazon Prime account. Prime is a subscription service offered by Amazon that includes free two-day shipping on many items sold on Amazon, as well as access to Amazon’s library of streaming TV shows and movies. The latter is a particularly nice selling point, as Amazon Video has some exclusive content like Transparent as well as classic shows like The Wire (this aspect of Prime is only available in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and Japan.)

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A Prime membership also grants access to the Kindle Owners Lending Library, a collection of more than 800,000 ebooks, and the ability to upload unlimited photos to Amazon’s cloud storage service.

The service costs $100 a year, but you can sign up for a free 30-day trial and still get access to Prime Day deals. If you are a student with a valid school email address, you can get a six-month free trial.

Lightning Deals

Lightning Deals are special sales on Amazon. They typically offer a heavy discount, but as the name implies, they go quickly. These items often have a limited supply, and given the amount of traffic Amazon gets even on a relatively slow day, the best lightning deals can sell out before you even get the item in your cart. Because Lightning Deals are so popular, Amazon requires that users complete their purchase within 15 minutes. If they don’t, the item in question is put back on the market. If the entire stock of an item is sitting in users’ carts, you can join a waitlist for that specific item, receiving a notification if the item has been made available.

Keeping up with the many deals can be daunting, especially when some sell out so quickly. Keep an eye on our coverage, as we will be curating a list of the best tech-related deals throughout the day.

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