Shop Smart for Tech Products

Going to your local electronics store to purchase the latest technology devices may soon become a thing of the past. Online retailers are increasingly able to offer better deals, even with added shipping costs; some even offer free store-wide shipping. With a little time and research, you can save loads of cash on your tech purchases. In order to find the best deals possible, the following online tools should be utilized in a cooperative effort.

FroogleGoogle for great deals!
An online service provided by Google, Froogle allows a buyer to search for products and then sort by price. These results can be improved by omitting related items to the one you are searching for. For example, if you are searching for a PDA handheld, including the query “-battery -case” will improve your results greatly, by excluding any items that include these words in the title such as a spare battery or a carrying case. You can also filter results by price, so by only including items over $100 you could also filter the many low-priced accessories available for PDAs. Froogle, however, doesn’t display the shipping price of the item, so users will have to manually go the site to determine how shipping costs will affect the deal. Froogle also typically won’t display the latest sales and rebates offered by a retailer, as the database of prices must be uploaded to the Froogle server in order to reflect pricing changes. Buyers should also be cautious for typos, as the retailer-submitted database of prices is not always consistent with the store price.

eBay – not always usedâÂ?¦
Many people believe that they can find only used items on eBay and are hesitant to purchase a product for which they won’t be covered under warranty. In fact, there are many brand new items sold on eBay for well below retail prices, and many of these will still be covered under the original manufacturer warranty. Be sure to retain documentation of purchase, however, and, if possible, acquire the original invoice from the eBay seller. Using the filtering techniques described for Froogle is also an important skill in searching the massive number of items for sale on the internet auction giant. In addition, watch out for shipping prices on eBay – sellers will sometimes use low prices to entice bidders into their auctions, and then spring an inflated shipping cost on the buyer. Lesson: determine the shipping cost before you bid! Another great advantage of purchasing through eBay (or another online retailer which doesn’t have a physical presence in your state) is the saving of state sales tax!

TechBargains – daily tech deals
What if there was a site that scanned all the merchants around the internet and highlighted the best deals in one convenient, searchable database? TechBargains is an outstanding resource that does an excellent job at doing just that. The people at TechBargains, as well as fellow shoppers, compile a great database of daily deals. Though the database is searchable up to the past month, many of the deals highlighted on the site expire or sell out quickly, so your best bet is to check the site daily for the items you’re looking for.

PriceGrabber – find lowest prices (with shipping & taxes included!)
This shopping site allows a user to search for a product and view online merchants that offer the product. In addition to the raw price of the product, PriceGrabber will also calculate the shipping cost of the item as well as the tax (if applicable), provided you enter your zip code. This convenient feature allows buyers to weed out merchants that offer low prices, but inflated shipping costs. In addition, users can request a $5 review rebate form for many items. Just write a brief review (several sentences) on the PriceGrabber website and send in your rebate form with a copy of the UPC & product invoice to receive a $5 check. Due to this incentive, PriceGrabber is able to also generate a nice collection of great reviews on the products you’re looking to purchase. I’ve written reviews several times and PriceGrabber has come through with a check each time.

CraigsList – free local classifieds
Originating in the San Francisco Bay area, CraigsList has quickly spread across North America, as well as overseas. While offering a variety of resources from job listings to community discussions, one of CraigsList’s most useful features is a “For Sale” section. CraigsList is organized regionally so that you can find deals in your area (most likely the nearest major city depending upon where you live). If eBay is not your style, these listings offer a venue to buy locally and actually meet the person from which you are buying. On the other hand, if you find a great deal that is not in your local area, you can contact the seller to check to see if he is willing to ship the item. CraigsList, however, is not monitored with the same feedback system as eBay, which holds sellers more responsible for coming through and delivering their products, so make sure you make good contact with the seller and avoid sending an unsafe payment to a scammer.

Despite the advantages of e-shopping, it’s highly unlikely that retail stores will ever vanish. For more bulky items, internet purchases are sometimes just not economical due to shipping costs. For most items, however, online purchases offer an easy method to acquire great products at great prices without leaving your home.

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