Hunter Bonner / Technology Today

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It’s that time of year ... again!

In just one week, we will begin a season where for the next two months we will stuff ourselves silly with ridiculously rich food that takes way too long to prepare. Thanksgiving and Christmas are once again upon us, and on the latter, the biggest shopping day of the season looms for eager shoppers.

If you are in the market for some new computers, some of the ads may seem very tempting with “doorbuster prices.” However, there are some things to be aware of that hopefully this article will help people out with during the mad dash.

Some stores are offering laptops for cheaper prices, some under $300. That sounds amazing, right? Well that is what they are hoping for, and that is, the low price associated with the word “laptop” will get you to separate with some of your money. The problem is a $300 laptop is going to be less than what you may want or need. Allow me to explain further.

Some of the “deals” include only 4Gb of RAM (memory). Even if you are just surfing the Web, reading e-mails and doing social media, 4Gb of RAM is not enough and you will see performance issues after a while. Especially after you apply a nice slew of Windows updates and install Microsoft Office (a huge hard drive-consuming program). While you can upgrade machines to larger RAM, be sure to check the processors, some of which are older models.

For just another $150 you would be in the Intel i-Series of processors, which are incredibly faster, start with 8Gb of RAM and are upgradeable to 16Gb or more, and still get the fancy touchscreen. Also, you are talking about a computer that is made with more quality parts than the cheap parts that the aforementioned “deal” is made from. In short, you are looking at a longer usage life for just a few dollars more, versus likely having issues with the cheaper model in about 15 months.

While we are on the subject of prices, it is important to remind people that when it comes to technology, or really anything, Black Friday is not always the best day to buy such things during this time of year. Cyber-Monday, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving, is a traditional day where online retailers offer deep discounts for products and/or services. This is a great day to get some great deals on gifts, and all from the comfort of your home without fighting crowds in the malls, etc.

Even on Black Friday, try going to the store’s website first before waiting out in the cold. I have found that many of the in-store advertised items you can get online. Thus, before you brave the crowds, you may well have most of your shopping done and thus, a less stressful day. Also, if you are waiting in line, use your smartphones to your advantage. Retail stores are making their websites more mobile friendly, and many offer an app for shopping. My recommendation though is that you download the Black Friday App for either iOS or Android. This is from BlackFriday.com and has every ad from every major retailer. Also, CyberMonday.com is another excellent app and website for shopping this holiday season.

For those that may be concerned about shopping online (yes, there are some people who have not done this) because you do not want to give out your credit card number, there is a safe solution for you. You can visit your local bank and obtain a debit card that you can charge up with a fixed dollar amount. It will either be a Visa or Mastercard, but with it you can shop online and have peace of mind knowing that it is not linked to your bank account, thus limiting your risk.

Shopping during this time of year does not have to be a hassle or stressful. By using technology, you can divide and conquer Black Friday and Cyber Monday and take advantage of great deals and avoid ones that appear to be “great.”

Bottom line is, when it comes to technology, you get what you pay for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hunter Bonner is an information technologist and can be reached at www.techedgeblog.wordpress.com and on Twitter at @HunterBonner.


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