Odds are you’re going to buy or receive a gadget this holiday season. Consumer electronics are always one of the top gift items in December, but the rush to get the latest gadget sometimes prevents people from thinking things through completely.
For the better part of 16 years, I’ve covered the video game and gadget space, making me one of CNBC’s go-to geeks. Along the way, I’ve learned a few easy tricks that make electronics shopping—and the early days of owning these devices—a bit more bearable.
In the interest of making your holidays a little less stressful, allow me to share them with you.
If you’ve got an iPhone , RedLaser is the app to get. Android users are best off with Barcode Scanner. In either case, you can see how the price matches up with other retailers to know if the so-called bargain in front you is, in fact, a good deal.
As an added bonus, you can also do a quick check for reviews to see if the item is actually as good as it might look in the store.
If you’re buying something big, know your limits. Today’s big screen TVs might be thin, but they still weigh upwards of 100 pounds. Will you need assistance getting the item inside? And even if you can get it into the house, does the item need to be hung? If so, pay the fee and save yourself the headache.
There’s one other important reason to consider paying for delivery. While it’s easy to hide an iPod, it’s less easy to hide a TV. Often you can schedule delivery for immediately after the holiday—or, if you’re lucky, the night before.
Once a couple days have passed, turn it off and let it cool down for as long as possible (a full day is optimal). If it boots up fine at that point, you likely won’t experience any major problems for a long while. If it doesn’t, you’re still well under warranty.
While it’s rarely pleasant talking to tech support, as you may sometimes feel like you’re being spoken to like a first grader, it’s still often the best way to quickly solve the problem.
And while no one wants to think about housework when they’re eager to play with their new toy, try to keep in mind how easy or difficult it will be to clean and dust the gadget. Dust is one of the chief causes of problems with consumer electronics.
If you’re looking for a set that has the highest ratings with critics—and thus the sharpest picture quality— wait a few weeks and those will usually go on sale. The prices won’t be as good, but you’ll be getting a high-end set for a nominal amount more than you pay for a lesser-quality set—plus you can avoid the frenzied crowds.
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