Digitizing Diwali

Digitizing Diwali
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First Published: Tue, Nov 02 2010. 09 37 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Nov 02 2010. 09 37 PM IST
Every Diwali, people indulge and spend on all kinds of things— food, decorations, house renovation, furniture, appliances, you name it. We too are most eager to see what consumer electronics goodies we can get some deals on.
Every festive season, manufacturers offer large price cuts on some of their products and obviously, everyone is excited to buy something or the other.
What’s wrong with that?
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Nothing, really. So long as you understand that companies don’t suddenly decide to take huge losses to make your holiday a festive one by offering killer deals. It’s a numbers game, and although you will get gadgets for less, most of the time, there are still times you might end up paying more than you usually would.
What’s the deal?
The most popular type of deal is the “discount” one. These are always on MRPs (maximum retail prices), which is good if it’s on eatables, but completely useless in the consumer tech world. Not one of us should pay MRP for tech shopping. Ever.
Don’t fall for the “50% discount” sales. More often than not, the products with such high discounts are older models, and the discount you’re actually getting on the product is more likely to be about 5-10% of the market operating price (MOP).
Another popular way of pushing stuff on to you is freebies. Let’s say you want to buy a TV, and there’s an offer for a free digital photo frame worth Rs6,000 with it. The best way to check such deals is to go look at the prices of photo frames. You will find that the same photo frame is being sold in shops for something like Rs1,800—basically, at a much lower price.
The next type of pull is the lucky draw. Don’t get swayed by the shiny new car, bike or whatever’s on display as the lucky prize. If you’re really feeling lucky, buy a lottery ticket for a several-crore bumper draw. You have about the same chance of winning either of them.
Also, don’t forget to check the small retailers. They are more open to bargaining, which means you’re paying closer to the real price. After all, they spend less on rent, electricity and advertising, and thus can actually afford to have smaller profit margins.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the hottest categories individually.
Digital Cameras
Do your own research, because almost all of the salespeople we’ve met just do not know what they’re talking about. They just try and sway your decision based on what’s not selling, or on what product they will get a higher commission.
With cameras especially, look for freebies such as memory cards or carry pouches. Of course, this sometimes only applies to the more popular price ranges. Also, it’s not uncommon to find that festive season or not, you’ll get no freebies with SLRs.
As for memory cards, with a 4 GB SD memory card available for a mere Rs800, don’t show interest in any offer less than an 8 GB memory card. This is for cameras that are in the price range of Rs7,000-10,000. For more expensive cameras, there better be much more than just a memory card in the bundle.
Phones
Thanks to a huge number of brands competing for the same space, prices are almost always at rock-bottom through the year. You will be hard-pressed to find any good deals in the festive season, on any but the most expensive models.
Even on the expensive models, the offers are usually limited to Bluetooth headsets and, in some rare cases, external speakers. However, customizing the look of your phone is catching on, so expect to see some phone covers or screen protectors on offer.
Television sets
There are more people looking for HDTVs than we’ve ever seen before. We had barely got used to LCDs and Plasmas when LEDs came out and then, before we knew it, there were 3D LEDs in the market. There’s a lot of interest being generated by all this new technology, because no other category has had such publicized innovations. The recent slew of movie releases in 3D has helped too.
The most common free offering with TVs is the free wall mount with free installation. Some dealers might try and charge you for the installation, but you should know that the manufacturers themselves are now providing this free of cost, so refuse to buy from someone who doesn’t install for free if you’re buying a big brand TV.
If you don’t need the wall mount, try your best to get a further discount on the price. If that doesn’t work, take the wall mount, even if you don’t need it now—you might want one later.
Many brands that make TVs also manufacture related consumer electronics products such as home theatre systems, DVD and Blu-ray players, or other kinds of audio-video equipment. Expect entertainment bundles from such brands on TVs of higher values. You will find Blu-ray players and HDMI cables bundled. Again, remember that the prices of these products are bound to be exaggerated. For example, if you’re buying an LCD TV forRs70,000, and there’s an offer to bundle a Blu-ray player and home theatre worth Rs50,000, that’s obviously exaggerated.
Also, we are fond of 3D, but not 3D TVs. It’s always best to wait until more movie titles are available. Only the rich can afford to be early adopters; the rest of us should wait and get a good deal on the technology when it’s matured and when it makes sense.
The deals to avoid are the ones that aren’t related at all. We found some deals of a free Internet connection with a TV. If you want an Internet connection, choose one wisely, don’t just accept one along with a TV.
Laptops
Laptops are another big category of products being sold in the market. Usually, individuals, not families, buy them. So this is a category where you should make sure you buy something that’s right for you. Laptop prices do dip in the festive season, but not as much as home theatres or TVs.
Bundle deals mostly include accessories that you may or may not need—USB extension cords, mice, a flash drive or, if you’re “lucky”, a colour printer. However, remember that although it may sound good to get a free printer, you might end up spending a lot more because of your “free” gift. We’ve noticed that the cheaper printers which are bundled usually have the highest running costs, and since most printer manufacturers now make their money through the cartridges you buy, it makes sense to give away cheap printers with just about anything.
As for the other goodies, the USB cord, mouse and accessories that may be offered are rarely worth more than a few hundred rupees, so don’t base your buying decision on them.
Exchange Offers
Some of the offers in the market today might have something to do with exchanging older products and getting new ones in their place. Of course, you’ll have to pay a big chunk of the new product’s price. There’s a possibility that you will end up spending more or less the same amount as the new product. Look for at least a 20% reduction in the retail price before opting for an exchange. If not, you’ll most likely be giving away your old product for free and getting the new product for the usual MOP (market operating price) you’d pay anyway.
Daily Online Deals
If you are tired of waiting for deals, there are a few sites online that regularly have these. One of the more relevant ones is Bindaas Bargain (www.bindaasbargain.com). The site has new products with discounts being put up every day. Not all of their products are consumer electronics, but every couple of days you’ll find DVD players, Bluetooth headsets, phones , etc, being sold. Similarly, Loot More (www.lootmore. com) offers deals on electronics and PC peripherals. The prices are more or less the same as in retail, but you get free shipping on most of the products. 123Loot (www.123loot.com) is a similar site which has quite a few cameras, speakers, phones, storage drives and other PC and laptop accessories being sold regularly.
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Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Nov 02 2010. 09 37 PM IST
More Topics: Technology | Diwali | Gadgets | Electronics | Furniture |