5 ways to save money on your next tech purchase

techbargainsRecently I was looking for a deal on a MP3 player for my son-in-law. I pulled out my usual Web shopping bag-of-tricks, starting with Google of course. Just typing in “best MP3 player” results in all sorts of informative reviews and comparison sites. It can be onerous though sifting through it all, so I usually then head over to CNET to check out some of their latest articles.

And before you know it, I was making my way through a standard folder of bookmarks I use to hunt out the best tech deals out there… so I sat thinking to myself, “you know, this would make a good blog entry… I think”.

Well at the very least I can always come back to this post to remind myself of what I did to find a refurbished Sansa Clip Mp3 Player for only $15.

Google

I almost always start with the daddy, that being Google of course. Just type a product, model, or general category and you’ll get thousands of results. Even the most obscure, Japanese-import electronics gizmo (such as an Asia-only portable video player from Sony) can often be sourced this way — just don’t always expect a deal though.

Further, Google will usually return links to reviews, forums with user comments and also pricing via it’s Google Checkout system. All helpful. While it won’t necessarily narrow my result to exactly what I need, it can help me survey the field and get a lay of the land, so to speak.

CNET

Despite some odd, quirky advertising a number of years back (involving disturbed looking people dressed like Idea models and hopping to music — chalk it up to tech bubble mania), CNET is a trusty site with a decent salvo of tech and gadget information. The Crave blog, by the way, is also good. And although the reviews are not always completely current across all shopping categories, they do write up some comprehensive reviews that are at least 2 pages long. I especially like their showdowns and “prize fights” that pit two competing products against each other.

Also, since this is about saving money, you can check out the where to buy box for pricing information. 

Woot

Ok with Woot we’re talking about potentially saving a lot of money. If, that is, you can find something you want on the day you want it. Woot has one deal per day. It’s usually a very good deal thanks to overstocks and discontinued product lines. If you’re willing to bend a little on the exact model, features, and color (do you like Pink phones or MP3 players?) then you may save over 50%. Often, products are refurbished, but still carry some sort of factory warranty. 

While Woot is not the place to look if you need a certain product right away (like the BlackBerry Storm, for example) it’s worth at least a look. Add it to your RSS reader and you’ll always be a few clicks away from a great deal.

fatwallet

Forget about clipping coupons. Now you surf and print… and then clip them! There are hundreds of so-called “coupon” sites. Again use trusty Google and you’ll find just about every kind imaginable. That’s part of the problem, though; how to identify the reputable, up-to-date coupon sites that you can rely on. Fatwallet is a class pick. 

A quick scan of their main page and you can find all the latest “hot” and “big fat” deals. I also like the way you can search for coupons specific to a store or brand. But searching by category (i.e. “MP3 players”) proved a little bit trickier. I did manage to find a $20 off coupon for a 2GB Sony Mp3 player bringing the price down to $49.99.

Techbargains

Another trusty favorite. It’s updated everyday, and it’s simple to use. That’s why I’ve been visiting Techbargains for years now. I especially like checking the top 5 hot deals of the day, and the fact that you can quickly click on shortcuts to seek out deals in your favorite gadget category like “cheap iPods”, ” cheap notebooks”, or “cheap digital cameras”… wow, this almost sounds like the dollar store; okay, well maybe not quite. 

Although I don’t like rebates (it always seems like a 50/50 proposition whether you’ll actually get the check), one click on the rebates link takes you to another informative section of the site.

Bonus: use eBay alerts

Like a Google alert, only for products, an eBay alert can notify you when that snazzy, yet refurbished, flashlight with compass and flare gun is available for $9.99. 

Well these are just some of the sites I visit to look for a killer deal. I have hundreds more in my bookmark list. Some I’ve dropped over the years. Smartbargains and Overstock are two examples of sites that have become too main stream and lost their initial discount and deal potential. To be fair though a lot of the bigger guys such as Amazon (the biggest?) do offer good sales from time to time, so don’t think just being big negates potential savings. 

Did I miss any of your favorites? Or let me know any of your tech shopping strategies. I’d be thrilled to add another 100 bookmarks to my arsenal.

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