It’s that time of year again. We’re just weeks from Labor Day, and only a month from the first day of fall! I write this post as I bid farewell to ImpulseSave and head back to school. That can only mean one thing: back to school shopping.
For some of us, these three words are what we wait all summer to hear. The best sales on everything from high tech gadgets to the latest fashion. Sometimes we go a little overboard and go over budget.
But how are you supposed to navigate the aisles of your local Staples; how are you to know that the Ti-84 plus graphing calculator you need for your 11th grade Calculus class is $5 cheaper at Walmart than Staples? Can anyone really expect you to stay on top of all these sales come back to school season? We certainly don’t! Read on for the essential guide to back to school gadget shopping; you’ll go from tech savvy to savvy shopper!
When to buy?
- Laptop: Depends
- If you’re looking for a Windows PC, check out this offer from Microsoft, which gives students a free Xbox with the purchase of a PC and this great option from Dell. Keep in mind, however, that Windows 8 (due out in October) will cost you $15 to upgrade.
- For all the Mac users out there, the MacBook Pros were just refreshed and should have the green light for a buy, especially the shiny new Retina MacBook Pro. If a Macbook Air is more your thing, you’ll probably want to hold off a few months.
- iPhone: Wait until September/October
- Apple releases a new iPhone each year like clockwork, and this year shouldn’t be any different. Wait until fall for the new iPhone.
- iPad: Depends
- Apple adheres to a cyclical schedule all the same here, but a new tablet won’t be coming from Cupertino until the spring. If you can’t wait, go ahead and pull the trigger.
- Android smartphone: Buy now
- Manufacturers of Android smartphones don’t operate on the same annual refresh cycle as Apple; in fact, they do quite the opposite. Samsung has established itself as the supplier of Android phones, and their current offerings are some of the best on the market.
- Android tablet: Buy now
- Just like the smartphone iterations, these are refreshed frequently, and there’s rarely a bad time to buy Android. Don’t hesitate if Android is your OS of choice on a tablet.
Where to buy?
- Amazon: With free 2-day shipping for Prime members and extremely competitive prices, Amazon is a staple on any list of retailers, and this one’s no exception. Find some of the best prices, shipping times, and return policies in the industry here. Get the most out of your dollar on Amazon by using CamelCamelCamel, a price drop notifier.
- Best Buy: The big-box retailer has recently overhauled their price, offering competitive prices (often lower than listed price in-store), and free ship-to-store makes this option very convenient. Save money shopping here by signing up for the Reward Zone program.
- Costco: If you’ve got a membership, there’s certainly some steals to be had here, especially on expensive gadgets like big screen TVs. Free shipping on most things doesn’t hurt either, along with that legendary Costco return policy of course.
- NewEgg: The e-tail giant has always been a favorite among computer enthusiasts, and recently they’ve made a push into the consumer space. Some of the best prices on new gadgets, such as TVs and monitors, makes NewEgg a stellar option.