‘Tis the Season for Tech Shopping

Randolph Pfaff
Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 5:30pm

Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Like it or not, we’ve officially entered the holiday shopping season. Whether you’re buying gifts for friends, family, or (let’s be honest) for yourself, this is the time of year when you’ll find the best deals on just about everything.

The Consumer Electronics Association, a trade organization, estimates that tech spending will grow to nearly $34 billion this holiday season. If you’re in the market for new gadgets, here are some things to consider.

Matching New Tech to Your Needs

The range of gadgets available is vast and there’s something out there for everyone, whether you spend your time working and playing at a desk, on the sofa, or on the go.

  • Desktops - If you work in one location and need a lot of computing power, this is still your best option.
  • Laptops - For those of us who like our tech to travel with us, but aren’t quite ready to give up our keyboards and traditional software.
  • Chromebooks - Built by Google, these stripped-down laptops are lightning fast and ideal for buyers who like laptops but want a simpler, cheaper device for web browsing and other basic tasks.
  • Tablets - The ultimate affordable, lightweight, multi-tasking device. You can take it anywhere for work, play, and entertainment.
  • Hybrids - The compromise for people on the fence. Many hybrids, like the Microsoft Surface, come with built-in keyboards and/or stands that allow these devices to function like laptops while being more compact, lighter, and cheaper.
  • Wearables - If you’ve got the newest tablet and smartphone and you’re looking for a new adventure, the market for wearable tech gets busier every year. There are smart watches, smart eyewear, fitness trackers, and more. 

A Few Important Questions to Ask

Once you’ve decided on a type of gadget, here are few things to consider when making your final choice.

  • How much time are you willing to invest? Consider whether you want to spend time and effort learning how to use a new device. For example, if you have an iPad, are you willing to learn how to use Windows 8 on a Surface? 
  • Does it do what you need it to do? Make sure the apps and software you use regularly are available on the new gadget. 
  • Does it work with what you already own? Think about the tech gear you use often. When you purchase a new gadget, will you need it to work with the other things you own? Ask a specialist or do some online research to make sure you get the compatibility you need.

Giving the Gift of Security

A recent report suggests that 43% of all companies experienced a data breach in the last twelve months, representing a 10% increase from the previous year. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your information secure when purchasing and setting up a new device. 

  • When checking out online, look for the padlock icon and https preceding the URL in your browser’s address bar.
  • When setting up an account at an online retailer, don’t reuse your Tufts Username and/or passwords you use for other services.
  • Be sure to log out of the retailer’s website and to clear your browsing data after making a purchase.
  • If your bank offers it, opt for a chip-and-pin credit or debit card (rather than cards with only a magnetic stripe) and use it at retailers that have chip-and-pin readers.
  • Use two-step verification to log in to popular services like Gmail, Facebook, and iCloud.

And finally, if you need additional guidance, remember that Tufts Technology Services offers computer purchase consultations, as well as links to tech discounts for students.