5 Helpful Hints for Holiday Tech Shopping

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If your family is like mine there are lots of tech items on the Christmas list.  My husband wants a 42 inch tv, I want a new desktop computer, my teens want cell phones and my son wants a DSi.  Oh, and they all want an Kinect for our X-box.  Needless to say we aren’t going to get all of that, but some tech items are bound to end up under our tree.  Twitter Moms and Staples are collecting tips for technology shopping this year, and here are my 5 top tips:

  • Read Reviews – It is important to find out what is good before you spend any money.  Sure, products look great in the ads, but the reality might be different.  After reading reviews of the Kinect I’ve decided our family can wait.  The reviews are good, but there isn’t much software and it is expensive.  So in 6 months or a year we might get one, but we will wait until there is more software available.  My favorite review site is cnet.com.  They are unbiased and give excellent detail in their reviews.
  • Shop Around – You can’t assume that the best deals will be available on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Sometimes as you get closer to Christmas the prices go down.  So it pays to research early, and find out what a good price is.  Then if you see a discount you know you are really getting a deal.  I like the site slickdeals.net for finding the best price.  You can even set up deal alerts, so the site will email you if something you are looking for goes on sale.  This is an easy way to find out about the deals early.
  • Check the Item in Person – We do lots of our buying online, but we wouldn’t buy a big ticket tech item without seeing it in a store.  My husband and I went out shopping on Black Friday not to buy, but to see the different tvs we were considering.  We also checked out the Kinect, and got to try the driving game for ourselves at the store.  Seeing something in person can help you make the correct choice.
  • Don’t be too Picky – Sometimes the exact brand doesn’t matter.  For something like a tv does it really matter if it is Sharp or LG or Samsung?  If you are willing to go for a less expensive brand you can save money, as long you have checked the reviews and made sure the quality is acceptable.  You pay a premium for brand names like Apple, so if you don’t care about that you can save money.
  • Check the Return Policy – Many tech items have restocking fees if they are returned, especially computers.  These fees can be expensive, and I’ve seen them as high as 20%.  You need to know this before you buy, so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise if you picked the wrong item.  If one store has a restocking fee shop around, since it can be worth it to pay a little more for the chance to return it.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible for a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.