Be a discerning buyer of tech toys and electronics

Published: Sunday | December 20, 2009

GPS vehicle-navigation system.

Electronics will feature in your shopping budget for several reasons.

Digital products are increasingly popular as seasonal gifts. And, in the era of 'upgrades' and frequent technological changes, there is always something out there that you - or more likely your children - absolutely must have.

Electronics range from phones to home-theatre systems, a can opener, to the tempting Wii, DVD player for the car, to vehicle- navigation systems.

Some are simple; many are complex.

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) suggests that before you whip out your credit card for the latest gadget or even replacement items, you should first create a budget.

Yes, you should decide exactly how much you want to spend, as this would help you tremendously in narrowing your choice.


Other tips offered by the CAC:

Identify your needs. Figure out what use would be made of your purchase and whether it is actually suited for the purpose for which it is being bought.

Buy according to your needs. If not, you run the risk of spending money to acquire features which you may never use.

Shop around and compare features and prices. Check the Internet. Compare what prices various models are sold for both locally and overseas to see if you are paying too much for vendors' mark-up.

Ask around. Find out from your friends and family what problems they may be having with certain models or brands and which ones they consider to provide value for money.

Don't forget the accessories. Make sure to get the necessary cables and adapters and ensure that controls are fully compatible with their corresponding equipment and are able to execute all the functions.


You should check out after-sales service, and warranties as well. Pay special attention to warranty periods and make sure to get a proper receipt.

If you have a home-theatre system on your mind, when purchasing these items be sure to pay special attention to ease of use, clarity of picture and sound produced, and the locations in the home where equipment would be set up to determine wiring needs and suitability based on acoustics and lighting and installation costs.

If a new phone is what is pushing your button, make sure to choose a brand and model you like. You do not want to have to change your phone shortly after purchase just because you no longer like the design, or the ring tone is annoying.

buying a phone

Before you buy that new phone, check:

Battery life, which varies among models.

The radiation ratings. It is yet to be proven whether radio frequencies from cellphones are harmless.

Price. Do not overspend on a more expensive model, which does not have many useful additional features.

The accessories. These may increase the overall cost of your phone. However, if they are optional and you do not need them, do not buy them!

The functions. Apart from the basic, if functions, such as voice-dialling, games, etc, are important to you, find out if they are available on the phone you plan on purchasing. Also find out whether these features are not only available on your phone, but are also activated by the service provider.

How easy it is to use the features. Request a demonstration of the gadget if you, like many, are not tech-savvy.

Capacity for messages and phone-number storage.

Using these guidelines, you will pay good money for good technology - we hope. We understand your love of entertainment and talk and how beguiling new techy toys can be, but a carefully considered purchase will add greatly to your consuming pleasure.

Universal remote control.

Coffee maker

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