The tech buyer's guide to savvy sale shopping

26th Dec 2008 | 09:00

Bag bargains on the high street by following our smart advice

Forget being an 'early adopter' – it's way too dangerous, especially in these financially shaky times. So let's look at satisfying our gadget-lust another way... Perhaps the trick isn't to be first in the queue, it's to paddle behind the technology wave and be a 'late adopter' instead.

All you need to do is twiddle your thumbs for six to eight months and, as manufacturers roll out their new product lines, you can watch the prices of older models tumble. Come 2009, you should be able to pick up the hottest technology that mid-2008 had to offer without spending a fortune.

Buying an HDTV

Take the Sharp Aquos LC-32X20E, for example, a 32-inch 1080p that was reviewed in mid-2008. Originally sold for £650, you can now find it online for under £500. Go larger with the Sharp Aquos LC-37B20E (RRP £850) and you'll find that the price of this fantastic TV has dropped by almost a quarter. There's no need to compromise with a 720p HDTV when full HD sets with three HDMI ports are so affordable.

There's an argument that HDTVs have now reached a level of technological maturity where the differences between them are almost imperceptible to the naked eye. It's why you'll find manufacturers trumpeting the extras – the styling, the colour, memory card slots, 1080p/24 modes and network-connectivity. The forthcoming Bravia EX1, which boasts wireless HDMI and a choice of frame, is a case in point.

Other high-def TVs to consider in the sales: the Philips 32PFL7762D, Panasonic TH-37PX80B and the Sony KDL-40W4000.

Time to buy a netbook?

One of the biggest computing trends of 2008 was the netbook. It's more than likely that our top-rated mini-notebooks – the Advent 4211, the Acer Aspire One and the MSI Wind – will have fallen in price by as 2009 gets into its stride. MSI, for example, plans to refresh its netbook product line at CES with new MSI Wind models that incorporate a new Z530 Atom processor and a touchscreen LCD. Expect the original MSI Wind to get a lot cheaper as a result.

Other laptops to keep an eye out for in the sales: the Samsung NC-10 and Sony Vaio VGN-TZ11XN/B.

A smarter smartphone

We'll stick our necks out here and say that: "the iPhone 3G is still the best smartphone you can buy". Yes, there have been some promising iPhone rivals – the BlackBerry Storm, the Samsung Tocco and the T-Mobile G1.

But the iPhone still rules the roost. And with the iPhone 3G now available on a PAYG deal in the UK, it's fast becoming a mass market handset. Rumours suggest that a 4GB iPhone could widen Apple's range next year.

Competition is so fierce in the mobile market that stores will bend over backwards to lock you into a 12- or 18-month contract. The Sony Ericsson C905 (with an 8MP camera) is free, as is the Nokia N96, Samsung Pixon and Blackberry Storm. Shop around and you'll be able to get the phone you want with a free gift – an Xbox 360 Arcade, an 8GB iPod touch or an 80GB PlayStation 3.

Even so, it's tempting to wait that little bit longer. If 2008 was an exciting year for mobile phones, Nokia's recent unveiling of its N97 smartphone proves that there are better things to come. While the news that Sony Ericsson has signed up to the OHA means that we might see an Android-powered Xperia in 2009.

Give in to PlayStation 3

If you've been talking yourself out of buying a PlayStation 3, 2009 might be the year to give in. Sony's games console is not just a cutting edge games machine, it's a digital hub (with downloadable movies, an Internet browser and a Freeview PVR add-on). And, thanks to its ever-upgradeable software, it's still the best Blu-ray player money can buy. Rumours suggest there might be another hardware price cut in March. But treat these with a pinch of salt. Sony's not making any money on PS3 sales as it is.

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