I’ll admit it: I love gadgets. I’m especially drawn to smartphones, tablet PCs, and plenty of other devices that a frugal person would easily call “non-essential.” In the past, my love affair with technology blindsided me into paying high retail prices far too often.
I finally got my reality check one weekend, when my dog chewed up my charger in the middle of the night. I woke up in urgent need of a new laptop charger. Desperate to get online, but with no juice in my computer battery, I headed to Best Buy and purchased the only charger set they offered. It cost $87.
Once I got my laptop powered up, curiosity got the best of me and I just had to see how much this charger would have cost online. Several websites offered the exact same charger set for under $20. That’s when I became a crusader against buying tech gadgets in stores. Since then, I’ve found several sites that offer great deals on just about every gadget I’ve wanted, often at 50% or more off retail prices. Here are my five favorite sites:
Top 5 Websites for Tech Deals
1. Micro Center
Micro Center is the best of both worlds: an affordable online store and a brick-and-mortar store where you can examine items firsthand. Their retail locations don’t offer the best deals unless you find something on sale, but the web store has an impressive selection and decent prices. If you’re uncomfortable with a purely online shopping experience, then visit the store to find your device, and then visit the website to find your price.
Tip: The best deals you’ll find on Micro Center’s website are in the refurbished deals and clearance sections. The refurbished deals section hosts a wide selection of gadgets at very low prices. The clearance center has the usual clearance discounts, and they go the extra mile with their open-box selection, giving you a chance to buy previously opened items from their retail locations at huge discounts.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Fry’s location, I envy you. Fry’s retail stores are basically open warehouses, stocked with every tech gadget you could ever imagine at rock bottom prices. Their website, though a little sloppy, will give you that “kid in a candy store” feeling. The site offers everything from cooling fans to home appliances. Fry’s sells Apple products too, and they provide one of the rare opportunities to get these premium gadgets at a reasonable price.
Tip: Fry’s advertises manufacturer rebates. You can find a list of the best current rebates right on their home page, and you can see specific rebates on the individual product pages.
Newegg boasts an impressive selection, cheap shipping, and great daily specials. They maintain an expansive online clearance center where you can buy open-box, re-certified, and discontinued items. To make your shopping experience more enjoyable and more effective, Newegg has one of the best search functions on the web. You can find just about anything by type, features, or price point.
Tip: Newegg users love to leave reliable reviews. So far, every review I’ve read seems like an honest one, and their detailed reviews can truly help you decide between two similarly priced products.
TechBargains is dedicated to finding the best deals on tech gadgets. On the site, you can read professional reviews, find coupons, or search current hot deals. Like Newegg, TechBargains has an active customer base, and they stay busy in a forum, posting deals and free offers from around the web.
Tip: Subscribe to the TechBargains RSS feed using the link right on their homepage. TechBargains posts their best deals on the homepage, and these products move very quickly. Following their RSS feed will help you get to the deals before they’re gone.
SlickDeals is a user-generated forum where anyone can post deals from around the web. SlickDeals users post deals for just about everything, but you can generally find a great selection of deals on tech gadgets in the forums. The best thing about the deals on the front page is the community’s quality control. Only deals that have been given high ratings by other users will make it to the SlickDeals front page.
Tip: Deals that SlickDeals users post end quickly, and you will have to act fast to get the going price on most gadgets. Thankfully, the users are great about updating a post when the deal ends.
Collecting tech gadgets is an expensive habit. It’s enjoyable, but keeping up with the latest technology can lead to frequent overspending. You’re going to face a lot of steep markups – especially if you have a “gotta have it” attitude about the first day that a device is available. As subscription services become more popular, you’ll face higher monthly costs too. If you really want to keep up with gadget culture, you’re going to need some affordable options and insider deals.
These five sites – and perhaps some others that you’ve found too – can help justify your ever-growing stockpiles of tech toys. The more deals and reviews you can find, the longer you’ll be able to keep up your habit.
Have you found any awesome deals lately, or do you have another favorite online tech store to share?
(photo credit: Shutterstock)