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Consumer Tech for May and June

Consumer Tech for May and June

This may be the best time of the year for purchasing home and mobile electronics

 (By Richard Sherwin, Robert Plunkett, Rich Macias, Amy Eller, Jennifer Auspitz, and Susan Davis)

 

If you thought that Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the best days of the year to get that 4K TV, Smart Phone, washer-dryer or whole house audio-video network system, you were wrong.

Manufacturers of televisions, PCs, mobile communications, home networking and home appliance products have other non-advertised weeks in May and June when the newest products hit the shelves and last year’s SKUs are still in stock.

This is when the top regional and national retailers have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Graduation Day all in a sixty day almost never ending cycle in which last year’s hot TV and this year’s next generation product can actually be on the same shelf. So something has to go.

Digital Family Advisor chose a few products that are a top value in their categories at any time of year but that our research shows may not have this good a price until next Black Friday or Cyber Monday. All these products were purchased in the last few weeks.

 

Smart and Standard TVs

Samsung, Sony and LG have great buys on their 42 inch 4K Smart TVs. The 2015s didn’t sell out and the 2016s are taking up space at Costco, BJs, Walmart, Best Buy and the large regional stores. The price differences be between the 2015 and 1016 models can be as much as $200 to $350 but the models differ very little.

We found that to compete with the more famous brands, Hisense (which recently took over the Sharp brand and is now the third largest TV maker in the world) was selling a 55 inch Smart 4K TV for under $600 using just about the same components as the more famous brands. Unfortunately for the more famous brands, Walmart was selling this new Hisense right next to a Samsung and LG similar model so consumers could easily compare features.

The 2016 Hisense 55H7B 55″ 4K Ultra HD 2160p 120Hz LED Smart HDTV (4K x 2K) was priced about 40% less than the comparable 2016 mid-level version of the more famous brands. And the Hisense’s 2015 model still on sale at Amazon and Walmart was also a great bargain at about $125 less.

Our shoppers also found that if you had a Roku or Apple TV and didn’t need a TV with Internet Apps but you still wanted a 2016 model with features like 120Hz and 1080p picture with multiple HDMI ports, Samsung 42 to 50 inch models were a terrific buy at BJs and some Target stores for under $500, even as little as $349. And in that category, Samsung was a better TV at a similar price to the instore or fourth tier brand.

Vizio also showed its 2015 right next to its own 2016 4K Smart TVs at Target, BJs and selected Walmart’s but the mostly high rated TV maker’s price differential was so great that the 2015 model with almost mirror like features was a stupendous buy in the 50 inch and up category.

Digital Family Advisor also watched the return lines at Costco, Walmart, BJs and Best Buy and in this informal survey found a preponderance off name and house brand TVs being taken back.

 

Other top home electronics picks

This time of year it’s not too early to think of camping or other spring and summer vacations.

DFA found a portable radio that served about a dozen purposes. The Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Digital Solar Dynamo Crank Wind Up AM/FM/LW/SW & NOAA Weather Emergency Radio with Alert & RDS, Flashlight and Reading Lamp, at $60 to $70, also charges your cell phone and can be used with solar power, traditional batteries and regular AC. Some Walmart stores had this model and Amazon had it on sale. Twenty years ago an emergency radio that had all these different broadcast stations was priced at $500 or more from the venerable Grundig brand.

The Kaito Voyager is also a tremendous buy for you or your family during weather and other emergencies too.

 

Do you really need to upgrade your mobile phone or Tablets?

 

The newest IPhones, IPads, Samsung Galaxies and Smart Watches are really not worth the upgrade prices. Yes they may be a bit thinner and have a resolution that’s so high the normal eye can’t appreciate them, but they also carry 20% higher prices.

 

LG and Motorola smartly made their new Mobile Phone models with all the new features but kept their prices (both standalone and with service providers) more reasonable, so see if your mobile carrier will offer you a two week trial. In addition, if you just have to have a Smart Watch for exercise, health or to keep up with Jones then try second tier brands.

 

The best buy might be the under $200 E-Fun produced Next Book tablet. Walmart regularly drops the price on this feature laden but inexpensive tablet…as does Amazon. The tablet comes in different sizes but has more input and outputs than any other brand. So don’t be scared by its smaller flash memory as it is easy to add some.

 

We enjoyed Motorola’s newest watches and phones. The former Google-owned, now Lenovo-made devices are about 25% lower priced than Apple or Samsung, but have the same if not more features and are just as stylish.

 

Here’s how the Motorola Pure compares with its pricier competitors:

 

http://www.motorola.com/sites/default/files/library/storage/products/moto-x-style/CompareMotoX.pdf.

 

 

Moto 360 Fashion CollectionSmart Watch for men and women: Moto 360 keeps you connected and up-to-date on what’s most important, thanks to at-a-glance notifications, messaging and more. Added bonus: it’s available in an array of sizes, colors, materials and finishes, including rose gold and premium blush leather. Get your Moto 360 at Motorola.com starting at $299.99

Moto X Pure Edition: Completely customizable with a 21MP camera and extended battery life, Moto X Pure Edition Smart Phone offers the ability to capture the family’s most important moments without skipping a beat. Get your Moto X Pure Edition at Motorola.com starting at $349.99