10 Ways to Save Big on Gadgets

You’ve grown tired of your outdated smartphone, slow notebook or subpar tablet, but you haven’t done anything about it. Why? Because you don’t want to pay through the nose to upgrade your tech. What you need to do is work the system. Instead of paying $1,299 for that shiny new Ultrabook, you could shell out as little as $679. And you could pick up that state-of-the-art Android phone for just $49.99 instead of $349.

Thankfully, there are a host of tools at your disposal, whether you’re making a purchase in the store, online or over your phone. Big-box and online retailers such as Amazon.com, Best Buy, NewEgg.com and TigerDirect.com offer myriad options for saving money on tech, including open box deals, deals of the day, clearance sales and trade-in rebates. Independent websites such as FatWallet.com and TechBargains.com make finding deals even easier, offering coupon codes, links to the latest deals from online retailers and comparison shopping engines. Consider these budget-saving tips when planning your next purchase.

1. Comparison Shop

Comparison shopping is always a good idea. And such sites as Google and TechBargains.com make it easy to compare prices at stores in your area and around the Web.

Google the name of your product (or go to Google.com/shopping) to get a link to the search engine’s shopping results — complete with pictures and prices. Google lets you narrow your results according to price, brand and store, as well as categories unique to the product (such as screen size for notebooks).

Similarly, TechBargains.com lets you sort your results according to price, discounts, seller and seller rating. The site also provides product details, such as specs and links to product reviews.

2. Buy Used or Refurbished Gadgets

Search such sites as Amazon.com, NewEgg.com and TigerDirect.com to see if online retailers are offering the gadget you want used or refurbished. TigerDirect offers hundreds of refurbished laptops for a third of their original price, as well as off-lease notebooks (computers returned by businesses at the end of their lease period). To find these, narrow your laptop search results according to condition, selecting either Refurbished or Off-Lease on the left side of the screen. Amazon and NewEgg let you browse for refurbished electronics in the same way. For example, we saw a refurbished ASUS Zenbook UX31 Ultrabook on NewEgg for $824 — down from an original price of $1,299.

Similarly, manufacturers such as Dell and HP offer refurbished items directly. Head to www.dell.com/outlet or bit.ly/T3fGy0 (or use a search engine) to see which products are available. Refurbished items are typically in excellent shape, but just in case, you might consider purchasing an extended warranty with your refurbished gadget.

3. Look for Open Box Deals

If you like to shop in a store rather than online, ask store employees if you can purchase a gadget, minus the fancy packaging, at a discount. This is commonly called an open box deal. Some online retailers offer similar discounts. TigerDirect.com, for example, offers everything from TVs to tablets at marked-down prices; unfortunately, the page for open box deals on TigerDirect.com is difficult to find — you’re better off Googling “TigerDirect open box deals.”

NewEgg.com also offers open box deals — just click Open Box Items under Outlet to browse all of the open box offers, including laptops, TVs and video games. Amazon.com offers similarly marked-down items through its Warehouse Deals page (accessed at the bottom of the site), such as products that have never been opened but have slight box damage, or have been used lightly and then returned (and thoroughly tested by Amazon before being resold at a discount). We found an older 11-inch MacBook Air, $843 on Amazon.com (originally $999), on the Warehouse Deals page for just $659.

Best Buy, on the other hand, lets you search for open box and clearance deals at Best Buy stores near you through its website. To find open box items in your area, hover over the Shops & Deals tab at the top of Best Buy’s homepage, and select Deals Near Me. Once there, select your state and city, and press Go.

4. Buy the Previous Generation

If you’re willing to pass on the latest iteration of that gadget you’ve always wanted, the previous generation can cost as little as half as much as the newest toy. On BestBuy.com, for example, the 32GB iPhone 4 costs $199 with a two-year contract, while the 32GB iPhone 4S costs $299. Similarly, the Samsung Galaxy S II on T-Mobile costs $99 with a two-year contract, while the Galaxy S III on T-Mobile costs $279.

In addition, retailers such as TigerDirect.com and NewEgg.com regularly offer older products at clearance prices. To find them, head to Overstock Deals (under the More tab) on TigerDirect.com, or Clearance Center (under the Outlet left-hand tab) on NewEgg.com.

Amazon.com also offers clearance products, if you hover over Shop By Department on the left of the screen. Click on Full Store Directory > Bargain > Outlet.

Finally, both TigerDirect.com and NewEgg.com periodically have overstock blowout sales, where gadgets such as tablets, monitors, laptops and TVs are discounted up to 75 percent.

5. Find Coupon Codes Online

Manufacturers often use coupon codes to entice customers to shop online — and sometimes these coupons can save you a hefty chunk of change. Dell, for instance, offers coupons directly from its own website. Just hover over the Best-Sellers tab and click Coupons to find the latest discounts. Amazon.com has its own coupon page for a huge variety of products, including electronics, at Amazon.com/coupons.

Additionally, coupon codes for online retailers such as Best Buy, NewEgg.com and TigerDirect.com, while not available directly from their websites, can be found on independent sites such as DealCatcher.com, FatWallet.com, RetailMeNot.com and TechBargains.com. TechBargains.com and FatWallet.com also list the latest online deals, in addition to coupon codes. TechBargains.com, for instance, offered a coupon for 10 percent off Sony VAIO 15-inch E Series laptops, bringing the price from $749 down to $674.

6. Regularly Check in on Daily Deals

It seems like every major online retailer offers a deal of the day. On NewEgg.com, hover over the More tab on the left side of the screen and click on Daily Deals to find the discount of the day. On BestBuy.com, hover over the Shops & Deals tab at the top and click Deal Of The Day. Finding the deal of the day on TigerDirect.com is a bit trickier — we recommend Googling “TigerDirect deal of the day.”

In addition to a deal of the day, Amazon.com offers a variety of other promotions as part of its Gold Box Deals. Our Best Deals collects discounted items across Amazon.com and lists them in a single panel; Lightning Deals offers a new single item at a massive discount every one or two hours; and Quick Pick features a new set of discounted items — specifically tailored to your tastes — every day. However, only one item may be chosen, so choose wisely. To view the Gold Box Deals, click on Today’s Deals at the top of Amazon’s homepage.

Smaller sites such as LogicBuy.com, TechBargains.com and FatWallet.com list the latest deals, including — in the case of LogicBuy — a Deal Of The Day.

7. Trade in Your Old Gadgets for a Rebate

If you’re looking to replace a not-so-old gadget, consider trading it in. This can help knock down the price of your next toy. Best Buy, for example, allows you to trade in a variety of products either in store or online, including iPods, laptops, camcorders and LCD monitors. Anyone trading in an item can elect either to receive a gift card or a check.

Trading in a 16GB iPhone 4S from AT&T, for instance, can net you a gift card worth as much as $350. Full details can be found on Best Buy’s website by clicking on Customer Service > Payment & Pricing > Trade-In And Recycling.

Similarly, TigerDirect.com offers a trade-in rebate program for notebooks, LCD monitors, digital cameras and mobile phones. A Samsung Galaxy S II can be traded in to TigerDirect for a $205 gift card, depending on the phone’s condition. Details can be found at TigerDirect.com/sectors/recycle.

Apple will accept old iPhones, iPads, Macs and PCs to recycle. If it qualifies for reuse, the company will send you an Apple Gift Card that you can use in an Apple Store or online. To get further details on the trade-in program, head to apple.com/recycling.

8. Get a Student Discount

If you’re a student — or buying a gadget for a student — you’re in luck. Manufacturers such as Apple, Dell, Lenovo, HP and Sony occasionally offer discounts as high as $500 on notebooks and other gadgets for current and upcoming students. Check out each manufacturer’s website for details on their student discounts.

9. Sell Your Old Gadgets

Some gadgets — particularly high-value products such as MacBooks — can be sold online for a substantial portion of their original value. Selling your old gadgets can help make that new toy much more affordable. A number of websites purchase or help you sell your old electronics, including Gazelle.com, NextWorth.com, YouRenew.com and CERecycle.com. As of this writing, a 32GB iPhone 4S from AT&T was worth $300 on Gazelle.com, $305 on NextWorth.com, $215 on YouRenew.com and $125 on CERecycle.com.

10. Upgrade Your Own Notebook

Upgrading your own notebook isn’t necessarily easy, but it can be a much more cost-effective solution than purchasing an entirely new laptop when all you want is extra RAM or a new SSD. Consider buying these items individually and installing them yourself. You can purchase individual components such as RAM or an SSD on such sites as TigerDirect.com, NewEgg.com and Frys.com. Shop around to find the best price for that piece of hardware you’re looking for. A 128GB Corsair Performance Pro Series SSD, for instance, costs $189 on TigerDirect.com and NewEgg.com and $214 on Frys.com. That’s a lot less than a whole new machine.