I am writing this special article which will help you get the most out of your visit to the stores during the Boxing Day Sales. No doubt, you will have enjoyed your Christmas celebrations with your family and friends and are about to see the New Year in. Concurrently, you will be bombarded with print, TV, radio and online advertising by the big consumer-electronics stores and department stores concerning the deep discounts that are offered on computer and consumer-electronics equipment during the Boxing Day sales that will be on this week.
Here, the usual price ranges that you expect for certain classes of equipment may change due to the deep discounting that these retailers do but it is worth paying attention to the features that the equipment offers.
Beware that the “doorbuster specials” and other highly-promoted specials may not offer a good return on their value because they may be low-end equipment that doesn’t have the necessary features that you want out of the equipment. In the case of printers, you may find that you have two ink cartridges that are costly to replace when they run out.
I have started with this class of equipment here because most people end up making mistakes when they buy printers on price alone. Here, the very cheap multifunction printer will typically end up being costly to run and may need new ink very frequently.
When you buy an inkjet printer, look for printers that use four or more ink cartridges. Here, there is one cartridge per colour and if you run out of one particular colour, you just need to replace that cartridge.
As well, some printer manufacturers, most notably HP and Brother, sell multi-cartridge inkjet printers that can take high-capacity cartridges. Here, you benefit from the fact that during low-demand periods, you could get by with standard-capacity cartridges but can run high-capacity cartridges during the high-demand periods like end of school term for example.
A printer that is fully network-enabled can be worth its salt in situations where you have multiple computers or a laptop connected to the Internet via a wireless network. This is more important for a multifunction unit because the network-enabled multifunction units provide network access to the scanner as well as the printer with nearly all of them offering the ability to scan a document to a particular computer from the machine’s control panel. In the case of most of the recent HP (Hewlett-Packard) printers, you gain extra functionality like email-to-print or "print-app” functionality because of the fact that you have network functionality.
Be careful when buying a router for your home network. There are two major classes of routers – a router, sometimes referred to as a broadband router, which only has an Ethernet connection on the Internet side and is designed to connect to a broadband modem; and a modem router, which has an integrated broadband modem, typically an ADSL2+ modem, or, in an increasing number of cases, a wireless-broadband modem for the Internet side.
If you are buying to replace an ADSL modem or older / failed ADSL modem router, it would be preferable to buy an ADSL2+ modem router. Similarly, you could buy an ADSL modem router as the core piece of equipment when you set up a new broadband service in a built-up area and have that service as a “BYO modem” or “wires-only” service, which attracts cheaper setup charges.
If your Internet service uses cable-modem, fixed-wireless, fibre-optic or similar technology and the provider provides a modem or “ONT” as the customer-premises equipment, you could get by with a broadband router connected to the modem’s Ethernet port as the network-Internet “edge”.
As for wireless routers, you may gain a better deal by looking at the 802.11n equipment because you can have them run with existing wireless-enabled network devices by using an 802.11g “compatibility” mode. This may not achieve the full high-speed throughput that 802.11n is designed for but still has a very good operating range for wooden or brick-veneer houses. You will still need to consider the second access point and wired backbone for houses with double-brick or masonry interior walls, including interior fireplaces and brick-veneer extensions built on to double-brick or masonry houses.
Speaking of which, if you are buying HomePlug powerline equipment, it would be preferable to go for equipment that is based on HomePlug AV standards. Here, this equipment will comply with IEEE 1901 powerline-network standards and work properly with the newer HomePlug AV2 standards. As well, you will get higher data throughput and improved reliability across the powerline network.
Games consoles, TVs and consumer AV
The Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft XBox 360 can work beyond just being a games machine that is hooked up to the TV. These consoles, especially the PlayStation 3, can become very powerful networked media terminals that can benefit from media held on your computer’s hard disk, a network-attached storage device or the Internet.
It is also worth paying extra attention to DLNA-compliant network AV equipment. Here, you can start slowly towards the networked-AV world yet be in a position to play your pictures, music and video collection from your Windows or Mac computer through the use of cheap or free software. You may be able to use your smartphone or tablet computer as a media controller even if the media files are held elsewhere on the network. This can be achieved through the use of DLNA / UPnP AV media-controller software that is ether supplied on your phone or available through the phone’s application store for a modest sum of money or, in some cases, for free.
As well, you may find that an Internet radio may be an entry point in to the world of networked AV and also give you a chance to hear radio from distant lands. This is especially more so if you “cottoned on” to a radio station that you had heard on your travels and were enamoured by its programming. There may be some bargains out there that are worth considering as manufacturers move towards newer models of these radios.
Laptop, Notebook and Netbook Computers
Make sure that you buy the right computer for its role in your IT lifestyle rather than on the price. A 14” or larger laptop would work well as an easily-transportable alternative to a desktop or all-in-one whereas a netbook or 13” notebook would work well as a secondary computer that you use when you travel.
If the computer is expected to be the primary computer, look towards increased hard-disk capacity and RAM memory. Dedicated graphics may be important if games, multimedia and graphics are important to your computing life. Conversely, a 15” laptop with low-tier processor specifications may be useful for retirees who are going to use it primarily for word-processing, email or Web-browsing.
When you plan to take advantage of the Boxing Day Sales to buy your computer equipment, it always pays to know what you want and where you envisage your use of the equipment over the next two to three years.