Opinion » Cybernaut


Christmas tech savings



With hard times ahead, people are being cautious in their Christmas shopping this year and retailers are expecting their worst season in a decade and a half. Retail sales dropped 2.7 per cent last month, and polls show that the average American is expecting to spend about $200 less on gifts this year — almost 25 per cent less than last year. Upper income families, who lost the most in the stock market and in real estate value, will cut their spending by almost $400.

All told, that could add up to well over a hundred billion dollars this year, as Americans spent more than $460 billion on Christmas 2007.

An informal poll of Canadian shoppers by the Toronto Star was not as bleak, but then again the recession hasn’t hit Canada as hard — yet.

If people claw back their expenses and give practical gifts, like clothes and sporting equipment, technology companies are expected to fare the worst as items like digital music players and video game consoles are considered to be luxury items.

But there’s no reason not to buy technology gifts this year. In fact, when it comes to getting value for your money there’s really nothing better than technology if you expect to use it every day. You can always stay home and watch the television you bought and if you absolutely need a cell phone — and you should always be honest about need in times like these — there are no shortage of plans and options that suit your usage patterns that come with free or reduced price phones. Sometimes technology is practical.


Video Games and Consoles

Who says you have to buy the latest console? The PS2 is the best-selling console of all time, there are thousands of great games available for $20 or less, and you can pick one up bundled with two games for $149.

The Nintendo DS is great value with two games for $189, and the basic Arcade level Xbox 360 (no hard drive, but memory cards are cheaper than ever), starts at $199. The cheapest PS3 bundle is $399, but that includes a Blu-ray player and free online gaming. The Wii is the cheapest at $269 and probably the most universal in appeal, although you probably want to bundle up and spend more to get extra remotes, Nunchuk controllers, and games.

If you want to save money on games themselves, it pays to look back a few years (look for reduced price “Greatest Hits” titles), or search the previously viewed or bargain bin at your local video store. You can also shop online at Amazon.ca to get good deals, or got to EB Games (www.ebgames.ca) to buy used games that are guaranteed to be scratch-free.