Time for Super Bowl and Super-Sized Gadgets



The advancement of next generation wireless devices, flat panel displays, digital television, MP3 devices and gaming consoles will push consumer electronics sales to a new high of $135.4 billion dollars in 2006, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Gone are the days of individual components for each function; audio receiver, television, CD player, DVD player, etc. Technology has delivered a complex consolidation of many components into just one or two key items. However, advancement for the consumer electronics industry also means confusion for the consumer. Consumers are struggling to understand which technologies are right for them and then how to use the technology at home.

Tech-centric, but not tech-savvy? With the Super Bowl this Sunday, consumers are lining up to spend holiday gift money on the newest digital devices. Before making an expensive electronics purchase for the Big Game, smart consumers will review these five steps to making the right purchase:

• Write a shopping list. Give yourself this prep-test to understand exactly what you're looking for in electronics. This quick review will provide a checklist for your shopping trip: What tech items do you use frequently now? What items or features are absolutely essential in your next purchase?

• Do your research. Using the Web, consumer guides and trusted friends, make a short list of the brands and equipment you might want to consider. Once you have a list, research the models and features of each brand to see what combination best fits your shopping list.

• Assess your Tech IQ. Based on the equipment you use now, give yourself an honest rating of your ability to operate high-tech equipment. Your realistic view of your technology skills will help an electronics expert steer you toward equipment that fits your lifestyle and knowledge level.

• Ask the experts. Discount stores are great for bulk food, but when you're making an expensive electronics purchase, trust the experts at retail stores that specialize in consumer electronics. In addition, a true electronics retailer will supply tech support after the sale. Ask about product guarantees and if the retailer provides in-store and at-home tech support.

• Plan for back-up. Regardless of your Tech IQ, you will want full enjoyment out of your new electronics. Research shows more than 60 percent of consumers need expert help setting up their equipment.



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