First, weigh the risks. There's definitely a cool factor in being the first to own a hot new gadget. But early adoption is a gamble. The newest products often have bugs or glitches that get worked out in later batches. And as Apple iPhone owners recently learned the hard way, people who buy after you do will end up paying less. "After just ten weeks, the price [of the iPhone] dropped by $200.00," says Grant.
It's also important to set the timer, and wait. However, if you wait too long, that hot gadget won't just be cheap -- it'll be obsolete. "The safe time is really about 6 months to a year after a product is released," says Grant. Then, you'll get a glitch-free, cheaper product that has yet to be eclipsed by the latest, greatest thing.
If you can help it, try shopping post-holiday rush. If your major concern is price, wait until January or February to buy. Post-holiday clearances abound. "The thing happens in January is that you're going to see a lot of price drops just based on new product announcements coming out from these major tech shows," says Grant. These shows include MacWorld and the International Consumer Electronics Show, and that can send prices dropping even further.
When making a high-tech purchase, keep one eye on the future as well. "Technology isn't just about buying it now; you want to look ahead to using it," says Grant. For example, high-definition content hasn't caught up with cutting-edge technology used in HD sets, so buying today means paying a premium for future viewing potential. And picking a side on the war between Blu-ray and HD DVD before the industry settles on one format could mean you're stuck with a pricey, obsolete technology next year.
Most importantly, save your receipt. You may be able to get a discount later on, even if you've already purchased the latest-high tech gadget. Apple was generous enough to offer its early iPhone customers a $100 credit. While you shouldn't expect that from other companies, many retailers do offer one-time price adjustments within a week or two of your purchase. "Check the policy before you buy, and save the receipt," says Grant.
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By Kelli Grant