SANDY BERGER: Bargain Hunters Should Find Good Deals on High-Tech Gifts
With most everyone looking to save money on presents this year, holiday shopping may be an interesting exercise in extreme bargain hunting.
Nowhere will this be more prevalent than in purchasing the gadgets and gizmos that are high on Christmas wish lists.
Today is what they call "Black Friday," generally seen as the day when the brick-and-mortar stores have their best pre-Christmas prices. Many stores in our area opened as early as 5 a.m. today. Lines started forming last night. But if you didn't get in line for the door-buster Black Friday sales, don't worry.
A quick look at the sales brochures will tell you that this year Best Buy, Staples, Wal-Mart, RadioShack and other electronic stores are extending some of their early morning Black Friday sales to last all day. In fact, you may even find that there will be some great prices available through tomorrow and even through next week.
And if you miss Black Friday, this Monday is called "Cyber Monday." It is the day that online resellers will be posting their special sales. Some brick-and-mortar stores will also have exceptional sales at their online stores. Certainly online stores such as Dell, NewEgg and Amazon will have special sale-priced offerings.
The sale prices this weekend and even into next week are sure to be good. Yet some analysts are predicting that with the poor state of the economy and the expected lackluster holiday sales, prices will fall even farther as we get closer to Christmas. So you may have a choice to make this year. Will the knowledgeable bargain hunter buy now or wait till later?
It may depend on the product that you are looking to purchase. For instance, Nintendo Wii, which has been the most popular television gaming device, has been in short supply for the past year. Right now, it is in stock at several retailers. So this may be one product that you want to buy now.
If, however, you are looking for a digital picture frame, there are so many different types and styles available that you may want to take your chances and wait to see if prices will drop a little farther before Christmas.
Compared to last year, many electronic devices are quite a bit cheaper now. Prices have fallen on computers, flat-panel monitors, digital cameras, GPS systems and storage devices. So these may be good presents.
If you are looking for presents that are a little less expensive, you will still get some bargains this year. There are quite a few perfect presents that are under $30. Webcams are the perfect present for Internet-connected family members who would enjoy video communications with family and friends.
If you know someone who has an iPod or other MP3 player but hates the hard earbuds that came with it, a set of softer ear buds would be a great present. For the mom and dad or grandma and grandpa who don't have a computer, they are now making small digital picture frames that show off the those precious pictures on a keychain or small album.
Most people use the mouse that came with their computer, so you might surprise any computer user on your list with a more ergonomic mouse or one in bright pink or lime green.
You will also want to investigate personalized presents that you can either make yourself or special order online. You can gather your family pictures and put them together in a book. Or you can create a calendar with special pictures for each month. With special photo paper, you can even print a photo on a T-shirt.
If you are in a creative, money-saving mood, you can do many projects like this yourself with your computer and ink jet printer. Or you can use a photo-sharing Web site such as Kodak Gallery or Shutterfly to put it all together for you. At those sites, you will also be able to have them create hats, mugs, ornaments, posters and canvas prints.
Whether you are out there bargain hunting or creating your own presents this year, there are a lot to choose from. And there is no doubt that both high-tech and personalized presents will make wonderful gifts this year.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happy computing.
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