Tips for computer and tech gadget shopping during the holidays

By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)

Originally published by Cox Media Group on 11/18/19

The holidays can be a great time to buy electronics, gadgets and computers.

If you still have Windows 7 on your computer, I suggest taking advantage of the holiday season and upgrading to Windows 10, as Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 in less than two months. There will be some awesome deals out there, but it can all be a bit overwhelming. Here are some tips I hope will ease your tech shopping stress:

Cheap isn’t always good: Some of the low prices will pique your interest, like $99 laptops, $29.99 tablets, and $19 printers, but you generally get what you pay for. Don’t expect ultra-low-price items to work great. Of course, this varies based upon the item.

But for example, the lowest-priced laptops typically have very low storage space, a slow processor, and don’t come with the typical Windows operating system so you can’t run Windows programs and games that you might be used to. I recommend checking if a better model or version is offered. The better model will cost more, but might also be on sale.

Shop local small businesses: Don’t forget about them! They may not always have the lowest prices, but you can get much better advice, customer service and tech support. And computer service companies can get you a custom-built PC rather than gambling on what parts the major brands put into the PCs on the big box shelves.

Check online reviews: I always suggest checking online reviews for electronics and computers before you purchase, even if you’re buying at a local brick-and-mortar store. At the same time, it also lets you price compare. Amazon is usually my go-to website for that.

Double-check compatibility: There are many different electronics and versions of them, so be careful when buying accessories. Double-check that you buy the accessory that’s compatible with your particular device. Consider this when buying for others as well.

For example, if buying a game for your grandkids, be sure you know which game device or console they want it on, as many games support PCs and all different console types.

Don’t forget batteries: If you’re buying anything electronic, check if it requires batteries and if they come with the item or not. Don’t forget about those kid toys, too. You might want to grab extra batteries during the holiday season just in case.

Prepare for Black Friday: If you’re wanting to shop during the late Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales, I suggest planning out exactly what you want to buy ahead of time and where in the store the item will be, as the hot items are generally placed in other departments. You can browse through the ads online, such as on www. bestblackfriday.com.

Keep in mind the big door busters, like TV sets and other hot items, may be in limited supply and you usually need to be in line at least a few hours before the sale starts. For some items you have to grab a claim ticket handed out in line — which is actually nice so you don’t have to rush in the store to get that particular item. Stores usually pass out the store map in line as well, so you can see where the hot items are located.

Get pro advice for larger purchases: Before significant purchases, such as a computer, I suggest getting feedback from a professional. They could compare the specs of your old computer to the new one and ensure you’re making a good purchase.

Get help with setup and training: Setting up and learning how to use new computers and other tech gadgets can be frustrating for those who aren’t techy. If you aren’t, I suggest having at least a techy friend or family member help you.

Or call a local tech support company to come out on give one-on-one help. Having the help can make a huge difference.

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