Kim Komando: Don't get suckered into unnecessary tech expenditures
BY KIM KOMANDO
Sunday, March 10, 2013
3/10/13 at 4:58 AM
Most people are pretty smart when it comes to buying computers and other tech gear.
They use the Internet to research products and compare prices. And when they're ready to buy, they take advantage of coupon codes and free shipping offers. But the tech retail jungle is filled with booby traps that can snare even savvy consumers.
Steer clear of these bad deals and save more of your hard-earned cash.
Extended warranties/phone insurance: They're usually bad investments. The basic manufacturer warranty on most gadgets typically covers a year of use, which is when repairs are most often needed. Extended warranties will bring that out to two or three years, but by then most gadgets are outdated and not worth repairing.
The exception would be an expensive computer that you carry around, like a MacBook.
Expensive cables: When you're shelling out big bucks for a high-end LED HDTV and a new Blu-ray player, spending an extra $100 or more on HDMI cables doesn't seem like a big deal. However, it's money you don't need to spend.
Unless you're running digital cable through an entire house, there isn't any difference between the $10 or less 6-foot digital cable and the pricey gold-plated versions.
RAM and hard drive upgrades from computer makers: Most computer manufacturers allow you to customize your computer a bit before ordering, but it's less expensive to buy the base model and perform your own upgrades. You can find RAM and SSDs for much less at an electronics store or online than computer manufacturers charge.
Carrier-provided GPS: For an extra $5-$10 per month, wireless carriers will turn your smartphone into a GPS navigation device. Isn't that great?
There's just one catch.
Every Android phone comes loaded with Google Maps. It's the best navigation software you can get, with spoken turn-by-turn directions, millions of points of interest, live traffic information and more. Don't forget it's free.
iPhones are preloaded with Apple Maps - again, it's free - which may or may not be good depending on where you live. However, you can download Google Maps free from the App Store.
Want to try something else? Waze is another very popular free navigation app available for both mobile operating systems.
Tablet data plans: If you're on the go quite a bit, a tablet with a cellular connection sounds like a good idea.
Before you drop more than $100, there's an alternative. Those with a 4G smartphone and a shared data plan from Verizon or AT&T can share Internet with other gadgets - even a laptop.
Enabling Internet sharing on your phone - also known as tethering - creates a Wi-Fi hotspot for your other gadgets to connect to. It's great when you need a minute or two to send or receive a file securely on a laptop or tablet.
That's better than spending $10-$20 every month for a tablet data plan or dedicated mobile hotspot.
Original Print Headline: Don't get suckered by tech traps
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Listen to her show from 1-4 p.m. each Sunday on KRMG am740 or fm102.3. To receive her newsletters, go to tulsaworld.com/komandonewsletters.