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Post: The Dos and Don'ts of Buying Technology for the Holidays
ICYMI: Money Moves
ICYMI: Humane’s AI Pin
POTW: Internet Artifacts
The Dos and Don’ts of Buying Technology for the Holidays
It’s November! And that means holiday sales! You may be trying to purchase something for yourself or for a friend or family member. Either way, within the next few weeks there will be sales on top of sales. Let this stand as a caution when purchasing. There are two main things to look for.
First, for anything you’re buying that can be purchased from multiple companies, don’t be scared to shop around. Consider purchasing from a company you have worked well with in the past. Or a company that has a proven record of working well with warranties or returns. However, if you’re trying to purchase something that is difficult to find, it’s worth paying the “convenience tax.” Meaning, you pay more for having it in your hands rather than gambling if you can find it again at all, much less cheaper. To this extent, do not purchase from others trying to make money because they know someone and were able to get said item at retail. The warranty and return policy are not up to snuff. Also, there’s a chance the item could be replaced for something else, and you’re not buying what you think you’re buying either. Walmart has a big problem with thieves putting more expensive golf balls in a less expensive golf ball box. Do not do that. And do not fall for that.
Second, if you’re buying something for someone else, consider purchasing from a company that extends their returns past the new year (as long as the item is unopened). Many companies offer this around the holidays knowing people will buy gifts for others that may end up being returned. This is a great option offered I’ve even taken advantage of. This also allows you to purchase items even earlier than you normally would. Maybe you’re even finished with your holiday shopping?
Next, be aware of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Sometimes you can get great deals, but many times it just ‘looks like a great deal.’ Meaning, the MSRP may be used as the “Original Price” when in reality the original price is much lower. Companies can offer a 15% discount and make it appear as a 40% discount simply by comparing it to a much higher listed price. But we can be careful of this and not fall into the trap! For example, if the MSRP is $100, but literally all companies sell the item for $80 year round, by listing the item for $60, it appears to be 40% off when in reality it’s only 25% off. It still may be a great deal, but there are some that aren’t. Just tread lightly and research the pricing.
An app I use frequently, CamelCamelCamel, helps by tracking prices on Amazon. For example, if you want to purchase a pair of AirPods Max, you can see the price is currently $479 on Amazon. Within the last few years, the price has been as low as $429, and frequently at $449, according to CamelCamelCamel. Now you know if Amazon has a ‘sale’ at $459, it’s not much of a sale compared to past pricing. Especially as the item is getting older. Side note: most Apple products won’t be on sale until they’ve been on the market for at least a year.
Now. What kind of tech should I buy for others? If most gamers and techies are like me, which I’d bet many are, they probably have very specific wants regarding the products and brands they like to use. In some cases, buying them anything tech is probably a bad idea unless you have insight on brands they like or items they would like to have.
For example, if someone is in the Apple space, a specific charging cable is required for Apple devices in comparison to the Android counterparts. If someone has an Xbox gaming console, a Playstation game won’t work. Not to mention, there are multiple types of Xbox consoles and tons of variations of video games. I’m not even getting in to the currencies of Fortnight, Minecraft, and Roblox. I typically do not purchase currencies for my kids for these games because they are buying a ‘digital item’ that is essentially useless and doesn’t allow the gameplay to be altered. This may include costumes or skins that are purely cosmetic in nature. There’s nothing wrong with it, and if that’s the worst a kid is doing, they’re still doing alright.
However, many gifts are brand agnostic, or there are many brands offering great products in the same space. These may include: power banks, charging blocks, charging cables, cosmetic accessories, and gift cards! With powerbanks, charging blocks, and cables, there are a few brands I suggest: Anker, Belkin, Mophie, and any major brand (Samsung, LG, Apple, etc.). I would typically suggest staying away from the cheaper gas station brands as the quality is just not there, and they may even damage your device. When it comes to accessories, there are tons of brands to pick from. What’s more important here is knowing you’re buying something that’s needed. This goes for accessories for video games, computers, headphones, phones, and anything else in the tech space.
On to gift cards! Everyone’s favorite gift. Right? You can be as generic (re: Amazon/Best Buy), or as specific (re: iTunes, Minecraft) as you’d like. This can be a great option if you are just overwhelmed by other options. However, I would suggest you try to get as close as you can to what they may to buy. You may also include a note saying what you’d like them to use it for. A quick note on video games. Some like to purchase physical games, some like to purchase digital games. Some gift cards may allow purchasing of either (GameStop, Best Buy, or Amazon), but specific game cards will only allow digital game purchases (Playstation, Nintendo, Xbox). A last note here: gift cards can also be purchased for digital services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.).
Lastly, if you are purchasing anything that has a slight chance of using batteries, be sure to include some! Check the box to see if it says what it requires. Even if it says “Batteries Included,” they may not last long, or may even be corroded. Typically, it would be either AA or AAA, and having both on hand can’t hurt.
What items are you looking for this holiday season? If you need somewhere to start, how about TIME’s list of the 200 Best Inventions of 2023. Happy hunting!
ICYMI: Money Moves
It looks like while Google made $146 billion in revenue from advertising, they also owed $26 billion towards agreements in place – essentially allowing those search results. Proving yet again, if you don’t pay for something, you’re the product. Two billion more dollars of their money was invested in Anthropic, an AI company founded by ex-OpenAI employees.
Intuit’s personal budgeting app, Mint, is shutting down, and they’ve been pushing users toward their other service, Credit Karma. This isn’t a full replacement though, so if you’ve been invested in Mint as a budget tracker, consider testing out EveryDollar and You Need a Budget (YNAB) shared in Weekly Wheaties 2302.
In the physical storage space, Western Digital is splitting into two separate companies. Currently, they essentially have two major product lines: a typical Hard Disk Drive (HDD), and Flash storage. In order to allow innovation to happen more efficiently, these arms will become their own company by the end of 2024. “Each business is in a solid position to succeed on its own, and [this] will further enable each company to drive long-term success.”
ICYMI: Humane’s AI Pin
Back in Weekly Wheaties 2328 I shared the Humane AI Pin as a pick. Last week it was released! If you would like to check it out, watch their Keynote released at Hu.ma.ne. Orders begin on November 16th for $699, plus a $24/month plan through T-Mobile. This AI device may be poised to replace some smart watches and phones. Time will tell!
POTW: Internet Artifacts
Ever wondered about the history of the Internet and how it started? Or how the terms SPAM and LOL came to be? What about how other websites names have changed? Especially with the most recent change of X from Twitter, and originally Twttr. Sure you have!
The Internet Artifacts is a fun website going through the history of the internet back to 1977, including tons of firsts for the World Wide Web. Careful, this is a rabbit hole you’ll spend much longer than planning on. And you’ll learn a bunch of new cool things! If you’re up for it, see how far you can make it in “The Impossible Quiz” from 2007.