Shiny gadgets and affordable pricing rarely go hand-in-hand, which is why dealnews leaves no stone unturned in search of a great deal. But ever wonder how the Internet's tech elite find their deals? We asked some of our favorite tech editors to share their money-saving strategies with us.
Managing Editor, Engadget
"Savings only come to those that search," says Darren Murph, managing editor at Engadget. So before making any new purchases Murph recommends looking at older models to see if they suit your needs.
"Today's technology is fantastic, but expensive," says Murph. If you're looking for CPUs, GPUs, speakers, or other gadgets, yesterday's best models offer nearly the same performance as today's at a drastically reduced price, he says. Murph also recommends hunting for closeouts or recently discontinued models. "Particularly with entry-to-mid-level DSLRs, recently discontinued models can pack loads of punch and offer a steep discount," he says.
And don't forget to price shop. "I prefer Google Shopping to start, but I don't stop there — I also check eBay, PriceShopper, and specialized deal sites to see if any particular e-tailer is having a temporary flash sale."
Murph also suggests keeping gadgets and their packaging in mint condition. "There's no easier way to save on a new gadget than to sell an old one and in turn, decrease the total expenditure," he explains. Therefore, caring for your gadgets is a good way to ensure you'll fetch top dollar on Craigslist or other auction sites.
Finally, don't be afraid to frequent the "for sale" forums on your favorite technology site, says Murph. "AnandTech, Head-Fi, and various photography sites always have forums brimming with technophiles that swap gear on a regular basis, often for fantastic discounts." There's plenty of reputation sites out there for frequent buyers and sellers; so long as you're careful who you buy from, you can snag a great deal while helping out a fellow gadgeteer.
Senior Editor Digital Imaging, CNET
If you don't need the latest and greatest, shopping for an older camera is an excellent way to save money, says Joshua Goldman, senior editor at CNET. Point-and-shoot camera manufacturers announce new models mid-winter and mid-summer, he says. "If it's been about a year, there's a good chance a price drop is just around the bend."
Deals on new cameras are harder to come by, he says. But for in-store purchases, what you can do is find deals on bundles. "Ask if they'd be willing to throw in a case, a memory card, extra battery, or all of the above," says Goldman.
Camera and accessory package deals are also available online if you don't mind doing a little hunting and buying from smaller retailers such as B&H Photo-Video and Adorama, he says (both which are regularly featured on dealnews).
These same retailers may also have manufacturer-refurbished items with warranties — another great alternative for cash-strapped photographers. Canon and Nikon, for instance, both sell new and refurbished products from their respective websites, says Goldman.
Fortunately, a lot of these tips also apply to digital SLRs and compact system cameras (aka interchangeable lens compact cameras). Entry-level DSLRs, for example, generally get updated once a year, says Goldman. "When a new model hits stores, you can usually find excellent prices on the older version." Manufacturers might also offer rebates and camera/lens bundles, shaving money off the cost of buying them separately.
Senior Editor HDTVs, CNET
"Buy online from the cheapest vendor with a good return policy," says David Katzmaier, Senior Editor of HDTVs at CNET.
"But always check Amazon pricing to compare. If it's within a few bucks ($50 or less), I usually go with Amazon since I trust them most." Just be sure to purchase direct from Amazon and not a questionable reseller, he adds.
As for timing, Katzmaier suggests buying your HDTV after Christmas, but before March and April (when the new models come out). "That's usually when the best pricing on last years' TVs are available," says Katzmaier. "January/February is clear-out time for all levels of models, while Black Friday is generally bottom feeder models."
Katzmaier also recommends staying away from refurbs and floor models because it's his opinion that they're too risky a purchase. He also suggests passing on extended warranties and purchasing your cables from Monoprice.
Editor-In-Chief, Computer Shopper
"For a run-of-the-mill tech purchase or when I know the exact product I'm after, I first use a few of the big comparison-shopping sites like PriceGrabber, CNET Shopper, and our own Computer Shopper," says John Burek, editor-in-chief at Computer Shopper. I then make a shortlist of resellers that are carrying whatever it is I'm seeking.
Burek also recommends using Google search to look for extra savings, then running a "dummy purchase" through the top three resellers with the lowest price. "Sometimes a vendor that's offering 'free' shipping doesn't necessarily come out to the lowest price," says Burek. "And by going through the actual shopping-cart process, I'll uncover other possible discounts — or extra charges — I couldn't see at first."
Burek also recommends checking the manufacturer Web site to see whether the item is available directly for less, or if any rebate programs might be in effect. "Depending on what it is I'm buying, I might also check to see if the manufacturer happens to sell refurbished versions of the product," says Burek. "Oftentimes, you can save a bundle, and some manufacturers offer the same warranty coverage on refurbs as on new items."
Editorial Director, 9to5Mac
"I never buy a product at release," says Seth Weintraub, editorial director at 9to5Mac. "If it isn't an emergency, I usually wait until an online retailler has a sale," he adds.
If your purchases are business-related, Weintraub recommends discussing them ahead of time with your accountant, thereby making purchases that will help you come tax season.
For things like MacBook Airs and iPads, Weintraub suggests buying refurbished from the Apple Store. "An older version iPad for my son was $350 this way. Likewise, a recent MacBook Air for my in-laws was under $800."