Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Web Secret #221: Tech Shopping Tips

In a recent issue of the New York Times, tech writer Sam Grobart wrote a somewhat lengthy (but excellent) article offering his system for buying tech gear.

He begins his story with the following introduction:
Think about all the variables you have to account for when buying a new TV, printer or laptop. First, you have to figure out what it is you want to buy — which is often no easy task, given the plethora of brands out there.

Some brands even have their own plethora of models. Have you ever looked at Panasonic’s site for TVs? It has seven different 65-inch TVs for sale. Not three, not even five — seven.
Yes, shopping for gear is a nightmare. Here is my shortened and simplified "Reader's Digest Condensed Book" version of "Clearing Away the Clutter From Tech Shopping":

1. CONFIRM YOUR CHOICE. Go to Its independent reviewers just tell you which product is the best in a given category. If you are looking for, say, a laptop, you will find a well-annotated shortlist of laptops organized like this: “best laptop,” “best gaming laptop,” “best cheap laptop.”

Great, I can handle that. (Can someone do this for cars? Hotels? Life in general?)

You want to know that what you want to buy is the most current version — and will stay that way for a while. Visit This is what they do: "Buy Now or Wait? We predict if prices will drop or a newer model is coming soon." Armed with that data, you can either move ahead, or lie low for a little while.

3. FIND THE RIGHT RETAILER. I almost always check if whatever I am looking for is available on I often find the item for less there AND I get free two day shipping because I am an Amazon Prime customer. (Since I buy just about anything on Amazon, from laptop locks to toothbrushes, I cheerfully pay the $75 to achieve Amazon Prime status.) Also, the absolute lowest price may be from some sketchy website. In fact, the more expensive the item, the more I am concerned with buying it from a reliable source. And if the warranty is at all important, I will gleefully pay extra. (eg I only buy Apple laptops, iPads and iPhones from the Apple store.)

4. CHECK FOR ANY COUPONS. I do not buy anything online without checking for a promotional code. My favorite site for this is There you can find codes for free shipping, 20 percent off and other discounts and deals that might otherwise have eluded you.

Happy shopping.

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