Thursday, December 02, 2010
Four Tech Shopping Tips
When I need to buy something technological, I talk to someone who is an expert on the gadget I’m shopping for. For example, Lost Boy knows a lot about digital cameras, so I let him tell me which models are the best.
One thing I've learned in college is that in order to write a good paper, produce a good map, or get a good grade on a project you have to know what characteristics your end result needs to have. This principle applies to shopping for technology too. I figure out what features are most important to me, like having a silent mode on my cell phone, then I ignore everything that doesn't have my top three or four most important features. This is a good technique for not getting derailed by salespeople and for not getting overwhelmed by the number of options available.
I learned the hard way that it is important to evaluate future costs of a gadget based on supplemental purchases such as extra cords, ink, or headsets. I bought a Dell printer without realizing how hard and expensive it would be to get ink for it. (Dell does not sell ink, or ink refills, at office stores!) Do some research and find out how much specialty cords, cables, memory cards, and other specialty add-ons will cost. One model may be more cost effective than another in the long run. Or one model may not have the add on functionality you want your gadget to have.
A lot of stores or brands offer special rebates that make the product you’re buying significantly cheaper than it would otherwise be. Those rebates are great, but only if you use them! I got all excited about my $50 printer but it turned out to be $100 because I never sent in the rebate form. If you buy a product with a rebate, fill out the form and put it in the mail as soon as you get home! Mark in you planner when you should get the rebate back and who to contact if you don’t (you might want to keep a copy of the form you sent in) and keep it all where you can find it easily. Follow through on your rebates!
As I said earlier, I don’t have a lot of experience shopping for technology. For example, I’ve never bought a flat screen TV or an X-box (and probably never will). But I figure shopping for technology is a lot like shopping for anything else. You see lots of stuff you want, but hardly anything you actually need. My favorite rule is: If you still want it after three weeks, then it might be worth buying.