Getting the latest> in cutting-edge consumer electronics doesn t mean you have to pay full price -- especially> not these days.
Electronics sales fell 10% in March compared with last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The drop was just the latest in an eight-month-long string of year-over-year sales declines that has forced many retailers to slash prices in order to clear their shelves, says Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University s Lubin School of Business in New York City.
But hunting down deals for gadgets is much more involved than finding a sale on chicken at the supermarket. Electronics retailers tend to carefully control their sales rather than blanket shoppers with storewide 20%-off coupons, he says. Consumers are also more particular about what they're looking for than they are with other purchases. (They aren t just searching for a computer, for example, but an HP laptop with a 15-inch screen and a 160GB hard drive.) The category is such a sophisticated one that people cut to the chase and look for the lowest price on the exact item they want, says Chiagouris.
The best place to start that search: online deal-hunting sites that focus on finding the latest sales and price cuts on consumer electronics.
Here are four sites that SmartMoney put to the test:
DealNews.com continuously posts updates with the latest in in-store and online sales, coupons and deals, says Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis for the Consumer Electronics Association, an industry group. (Click on the tech button at the top of the page to hide deals from other retail categories.) Users can sort deals by the time they were posted, by category or by hotness to see what other visitors are checking out.
2. CNET s
Think of this site as one-stop shopping. Not only do users have access to extensive reviews (both by CNET's expert reviewers and other users), but it also helps them hunt down the best price, says Chiagouris. Comb the listings of the latest sales and coupons and use the site s price-comparison feature to find the best deals on a specific model. Sign up to receive an email newsletter of the best sales and coupons that the site turns up on popular items.
Not all price-comparison search engines are created equal. For more of our favorites, click here
Sample deal: The lowest price for a Samsung LN52A650 52-inch LCD television set (regularly $2,700) was $1,800 at Fry s. The store had dropped its price by nearly 34% just days earlier. You ll save 31%.
Follow deals on Twitter here Many of the offerings are discontinued or overstock electronics. Recent deals include a Pentax Optio E60 digital camera ($80 compared to B&H s $115), a fourth-generation Apple (AAPL)
Sample deal: Friday s item was the Digital Concepts AC/DC Battery Charger for $10 (plus $5 shipping). BuyDig.com sells the same device for $24 (shipping is free). You ll save 37%.