Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Five Helpful Tips for Holiday Tech Shopping

Five Helpful Tips for Holiday Tech Shopping

Are you shopping this holiday season for a tech gift or a tech product for yourself?   This is a great time of year to pick up the latest and best in technology.  Most tech stores have great sales and we all love to find a fun, new gadget under the tree!  Whether you are shopping for yourself or someone else, there are things to remember when doing your holiday tech shopping.  Here are my five favorite tips!

1.  Consider the tech skills of the recipient and 
any future monthly costs associated with the item.

If you are selecting a smart phone to put under the Christmas tree this year, you want to consider the recipient's level of familiarity with phones.  For example, my teenage niece would love an iPhone, but my mother-in-law would be freaked out at the touch screen!  Adjust the gift if the recipient prefers less complicated options.  Also, if you are giving a gift that will have associated monthly costs after the purchase, make sure the recipient is willing to pay those.

2.  Think about whether you need the biggest, fastest, best or
if a standard model will make you just as happy. 
Do you need a specific brand?

It's always tempting to get the biggest screen tv, the fastest laptop, or the best camera but step back and think about whether you or the gift recipient need that much power.  Consider how long you or the user will be keeping the item.   For example, on computers, you may want to go to the high end of memory capability if the user will be keeping it for years.  Software tends to increase in size and bigger and bigger computers are needed to run the applications we may want to use next year or the year after.  Sometimes, a certain brand will have a "cool factor" that can't be beat!

3.  Read customer reviews and ratings.  Ask your friends.

There are many sites like Staples.com that have customer reviews for each product.  It's great information to read the pros and cons from unbiased sources.  Check the number of reviews, if there are only a few, the rating is not reliable.  Ask friends and co-workers.  It helps to hear the details of using a certain product and you can rely on information from people you know.  Some website, like Staples.com, even have a Q and A for tech products.  There is a tab on the product page called "Q and A" where you can read questions that other people have asked, or ask one yourself.

4.  Check for the internet (ie hub pages and blogs) for product comparisons.

I was just considering buying a handheld game device for my daughter and got lost in trying to compare the models of different manufacturers.  I googled comparison of video game devices and found some great articles that directly compared the top three choices.  This is also true for cameras, laptops, and smart phones.  There are great articles that do side-by-side comparisons.

5.  After you buy, keep watching for sales - lots of companies have price guarantees.
Just because you've brought a tech item home, doesn't mean the comparison shopping is over.  When you buy a product, pay attention to the price guarantee information.  If they will match a competitor or their own sales price for a future period, remember to check for those sales.
For example, here is the price match policy from Staples.com and many companies have similar policies.
"Q:  How does Staples’ price–match guarantee work?
A:  If you find a lower price anywhere else on a new identical item, just show us the lower price when you buy the item at Staples and we will match the price, or within 14 days of your Staples purchase and we will give you the difference."

Conclusion:  I hope this gives you some helpful information for holiday tech shopping.  One last tip, in case you missed the mark when you chose that gift for someone else.  Remember to save your receipts and check re-stocking policies, they may want to exchange it!

About Staples:
Staples, the world's largest office products company, is committed to making it easy for customers to buy a wide range of office products and services. Our broad selection of office supplies, electronics, technology and office furniture as well as business services, including computer repair and copying and printing, helps our customers run their offices efficiently. With 2009 sales of $24 billion and 91,000 associates worldwide, Staples operates in 26 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia serving businesses of all sizes and consumers. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and today ranks second worldwide in e-commerce sales. The company is headquartered outside Boston. 

Disclosure:  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 http://staplesholiday.twittermoms.com/about.


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