Smart gadget buys

Gadget-buyers will find plenty of sales this time of year. But they also run the risk of buying something that will quickly be even cheaper - or worse, obsolete. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com tells how to limit your risk and get a good deal.


After-holiday gadget sales can be pretty enticing, but keep in mind that January and February are when many manufacturers unveil their latest models during the Consumer Electronics Show and other industry events. Prices often drop further after those announcements. Waiting can also help you avoid buyers' remorse if the latest and greatest is pretty cool.

Read up on early reviews. Early adopters usually face bugs, but experts say problems are becoming more common as manufacturers send devices to market that aren't really ready. If you're hearing about problems with software, that's less problematic -- companies like Amazon and Apple routinely send out updates to fix glitches. Hardware problems may be tougher - they're usually not fixed until the next generation of that device comes out.

Pay attention to return policies. Shoppers are fast to assume they should buy their Kindle from Amazon and their iPad from Apple, but other retailers sell the same devices - and are more generous on return policies if you're not sure about an item. Target, for example, offers 45 days on tablets and e-readers, which is triple Apple's 14-day policy and two weeks more than Amazon's 30-day standard.

Pay with a credit card. Many offer extended price protection, crediting you the difference if the item's price drops shortly after you buy it. Others offer an extended return period, in case you decide you don't like that new camera and the store won't take it back. Most also automatically double the manufacturer's warranty, offering extra protection without the cost of the store's expensive service plan.

There's a thriving market for secondhand tablets, cellphones and other gear at sites like Gazelle.com, NextWorth.com and of course, eBay. You might not get much for your old device - I recently got $11 for a 2004-model camera - but it's a way to responsibly dispose of old gear and get a little something to help offset the cost of the new.

For more information on buying gadgets and other consumer tips click here.

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