SOURCE: N.E.W. Customer Service Companies Inc

November 14, 2011 05:00 ET

Tips for Buying Tech Holiday Gifts

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Nov 14, 2011) - (Family Features) When shopping for tech gifts this holiday season, purchasing quality, highly-rated products will help ensure your gifts will be enjoyed. But even the perfect gadget can present issues.

The experts at The Savvy Shopper Blog ( suggest researching in advance and purchasing service plans to protect your tech gifts. Here are their tips for a variety of popular items on the 2011 holiday checklist:

E-Book Readers and Tablets
Consider your loved one's preferences; do they wish to primarily read, play games, access email or social networking sites? Or would they prefer a device that can do all that and more?

Tablets and e-readers typically access the Internet via Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G networks, or a combination of Wi-Fi and a network. While e-reader models are offering more capabilities, tablets still reign supreme in terms of multi-functioning devices.

When determining whether you wish to gift a tablet or an e-reader, consider the price. Tablets typically run from several hundred dollars to $1,000, while e-readers start at less than $100 and run to several hundred.

For e-readers, consider either an e-ink or an LCD screen. E-ink screens mimic the appearance of printed ink on paper, while LCD screens use liquid crystals to display colors.

  • E-ink -- The e-ink screen image appears just like a printed page and can be read in bright light or sunlight. However, the pages appear in black and white and cannot be read in the dark.
  • LCD screens -- Bright and colorful, these lit screens can be read at night, but the screens can be difficult to read in bright light or sunlight, and some consumers believe the screens can tire or strain the eyes.

For tablets, keep in mind that most tech lovers have a preferred operating system, such as Apple's iOS or Google's Android. Also remember that storage size is important -- if your loved one saves a great deal of photos and music files electronically, they will require more storage capacity.

Size, weight, speed and storage are the most important elements to keep in mind when purchasing a laptop. For ample photo and music storage, purchase a computer with plenty of gigabytes. If your loved one streams videos, you'll need a fast processor and good speakers. Likewise, for video game use, make sure you have a quality graphics card.

While light-weight and small screen laptops are more portable, larger screens are better for video and gaming use. Models with built-in cameras and microphones are great for video chatting too.

Flat Screen TVs
Today, there are many options beyond size and picture, such as 3D technology and Wi-Fi capabilities. To get started, consider the following:

  • Plasma screens -- Plasma screens display a wide range of colors and a cleaner picture with fewer instances of motion blur while retaining faster refresh rates. However, the screens are made from glass and therefore reflect more light. When purchasing a plasma screen, look for a model with an anti-glare filter.
  • LCD screens -- These screens are lighter weight and come in a variety of sizes compared to plasma. They use less power and some models also feature LEDs, which illuminate the display and deepen blacks. But with the LCD, picture quality can be inferior, with slower refresh rates as well.

Video Gaming Systems
Each year, manufacturers continue to improve upon video gaming platforms. With so many games and accessories, it can be difficult to choose between gaming systems. Here are the top three:

  • Xbox 360 -- This gaming system features high-definition graphics and also plays DVDs and CDs, but users are required to subscribe and pay for online gaming.
  • PS3 -- With high definition graphics, this system also plays DVDs, CDs and Blu-rays as well, but it's priced higher than the Xbox, and if a user wishes to play PSOne or PS2 games, they must purchase an adapter.
  • Nintendo Wii -- While the graphics aren't as sharp and the system doesn't play DVDs, users can get up and move while virtually playing tennis, golf and other games, making this system much more interactive. In addition, this system is compatible with the GameCube.

Protection -- The Extra Gift
Consider purchasing a replacement or service plan to protect your electronic gift. It's important to know the difference between the two standard types of product warranties:

Limited Manufacturer Warranty

  • Generally comes standard with your product purchase. However, this type of warranty will only cover a problem with the product considered a "manufacturer's defect;" not products that fail from wear and tear; heat, dust and humidity; or accidental damage.
  • Basic protection is limited, typically 90 days to one year.
  • Manufacturers have been reducing the duration and scope of what they cover. Parts and labor may be split, so you could find yourself paying out of pocket.

Extended Service Plan (or "Extended Warranty")

  • Builds upon the manufacturer's coverage.
  • Provides for coverage due to defects in materials and workmanship, including those due to normal wear and tear and environmental factors like heat, dust and humidity and, in some cases, accidental damage from handling.
  • Coverage ranges from two to five years.
  • Due to the "no lemon" clause of many extended warranties, if your gift cannot be fixed, it will simply be replaced with a new product or gift card for the value of your purchase.
  • Can provide support 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays.

To learn more about protection plans, visit

Top Five Electronic Gifts Most Likely to Fail
N.E.W. Customer Service Companies provides the following list of holiday gifts most likely to fail:
1. Video game consoles
2. LCD screens
3. MP3 players
4. Laptops
5. Digital cameras

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