Deals are everywhere on these Interwebs of ours, but you know the old saying: If it looks too good to be true, Google it.
Better still, read this. Below I’ve spotlighted three common tech deals that aren’t worth your time–and definitely not your money. Got a difference of opinion? Tough luck! Er, I mean, share your thoughts in the comments below.
iPads are crazy-expensive, so when you see one selling for as little as $120 (which you can, today only, at 1Sale.com), there’s considerable temptation to grab the deal. Sure, it’s a first-generation model, but so what? That just means it’s a little thicker and heavier than newer iPads, right?
Wrong. The original iPad may have been a groundbreaking product, but it’s a dinosaur by today’s standards. Its screen runs at a paltry 1,024 by 768 pixels. It has no cameras built in, so forget FaceTime chats.
But the real issue is that the iPad 1 is limited to running iOS version 5.1. In case you’re keeping score, the current version is iOS 7, and Apple just yesterday announced iOS 8. Many, if not most, modern apps won’t run on iOS 5.1, meaning you’ll find yourself with a seriously hobbled iPad. Steer clear.
I don’t get the fuss over Beats, a company Apple just acquired for an ungodly sum. I mean, hey, I can appreciate a good pair of headphones as much as the next guy, but not when they’re 2-3 times more expensive than products that sound nearly (or just) as good. (Whoops! I just described Apple, too. Guess it’s a match made in heaven.)
I mean, seriously, unless you’re just looking to impress your friends, there are countless alternatives to Beats. For starters, check out Forbes’ “10 Headphones Better Than Beats” and Lifehacker’s “Are Beats By Dre Headphones Any Good?” (Spoiler: “Beats are… not great.”)
So before you spend all kinds of money on a pair of Beats headphones, ask yourself if you’re doing it for yourself or for the people around you. Most likely, when they see that telltale “b” covering your ears, they’ll think it stands for “broke.” (See, because that’s what you’ll be after…well, you get it.)
As a general rule I’m a fan of refurbished tech gear, which can save you considerable cash over buying new. Indeed, refurbished tablets from the likes of Apple and Amazon are all but indistinguishable from new, and a refurbished Roku box has the same warranty as a new one.
But buying a refurbished TV is a bad idea for several reasons. For starters, they’re big and heavy, and therefore expensive to ship. If you have a problem, you could end up with a hefty return-shipping bill.
What’s more, the warranty on refurbished TVs is typically just 90 days, and that’s not long enough. (I’d also argue that the standard one-year warranty on new TVs isn’t long enough either, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
Mostly, though, I’ve heard too many stories of refurbished TVs arriving with broken stands, missing remotes, seriously bad packaging, and other worrisome issues. For whatever reason, TVs don’t seem to get the same loving treatment as tablets, laptops, and other, smaller, tech items. Maybe it’s precisely because they’re so large. But it doesn’t matter: I wouldn’t buy a refurbished TV no matter how great the savings. It’s just too risky.
Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC World and Wired.