Technology on a Budget

Technology advances so quickly that by the time you have researched and gotten comfortable with the idea of purchasing the latest gadget or newest phone or computer it is no longer the newest.

To add to the difficulty, in the world of technology, the newest is not always the best either (think Windows Vista as a glaring example).  By the time enough actual consumer reviews are available to be of use (as opposed to the numerous ‘manufacturer sponsored’ reviews in the weeks before and days after a new release)thousands have already shelled out their money.

None of this is meant to imply that new things are bad or to be avoided in anyway. It is simply to say when considering new software, computers, phones, or peripherals some considerations should be kept in mind. If, like the vast majority of people, budget and financial considerations play a part of the decision making process in a purchase, there are some things to keep in mind.


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Being in a hurry to upgrade to the newest version or new software product is seldom a good idea. All software has bugs and glitches and compatibility issues that cannot be known until it has been used hands on by a large number of users in many different ways; giving it a few months to allow ‘fixes’ for issues to be developed and all of the issues to become known is a prudent decision. Ways to save on new software also include-

  • Google for rebates and price – often even new releases have rebates available through the manufacturer or it the manufacturer has set a retail price then individual retail outlets may offer their own rebates to attract customers without violating the agreement with fixed price selling
  • Look for special licences – student/educatorlicences, government employee licences, etc. You can save 80% sometimes by finding such programs if you qualify for them

Accessories and Peripherals

Printers, digital cameras, headsets, monitors, etc. all are useful if not an absolute must. Prices on these items have huge variations from different places and retailers.  Considerations to be kept in mind on these sorts of items-

  • Are they compatible with other associated items you already own? Does the camera use the same removable memory as you currently own or will you need to purchase memory also? If it plugs into your computer are there drivers that will enable it to work on your operating system?
  • Check out ‘overstock’outlets to see if it is available there. Even new release products end up there if for example the manufacturer had a shipping delay and 200 cameras to be delivered on the 15th of December for holiday sales inventory were refused by the retailer when they actually arrived on the 27th after a ship delay. Rather than pay to bring them back the manufacturer often redirects them to overstock discounters.

Refurbished Electronics

Many electronics are sold at considerable discount as refurbished items. This simply means that at some point in the sales process they were returned. They may have failed a factory quality inspection or been returned to the retailer or manufacturer by the end consumer due to defect. Equally (and actually more often) possible is that they had damaged packaging, cosmetic scratch, did not meet the needs of the consumer, or were returned under a no questions return policy. The fact is however, you will have no way of knowing the reason for the return on a specific item. They can offer considerable savings over ‘new’.  If considering these items pay attention to –

  • Warranty – it may have a much shorter warranty, often times the same warranty, and on occasion a longer warranty then the same ‘new’ item. If it has a shorter warranty can you purchase the item plus an extended warranty and still realize a savings over the cost of new?
  • Return policy – liberal return policies on ‘new’ typically do not apply to refurbished so do your homework and read reviews ahead of time.
  • Compare costs – savings over original retail give an indicator of value but compare costs to what the new price is now. If a laptop with the latest chipset costs $1000 this month then in 3 months it will probably be available for $750. If you are buying a refurbished one for $725 it looks like a good deal compared to original retail but is only saving $25 compared to current new price. However there are many companies that specialise in refurbished laptops that can save you even more money.
  • Compare extra features – often times refurbished have additional loaded software or optional upgrades not on the base model new so if you are getting 4gb of extra memory and a licensed software bundle extra it may be of benefit.
  • Upgrades – many retailers and direct manufacturers will still do custom upgrades to refurbished systems so you may be able to change out a chipset or add memory or graphics card and save substantially. If they do it before your purchase it will be covered under the warranty unlike if you do it after purchase.

About Author
Sarah is Tech blogger. She contributes to the Blogging, Gadgets, Social Media and Tech News section on TechnoMagzine.


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