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How to Choose Between Products

 

So you're ready to buy your first video camera or some other electronic device and you have no clue which to choose from? Well it's fairly easy if you follow these simple tips. One easy way is to go to your favourite shop, or to several stores, and ask the salesperson. When he/she wows you into buying a certain model, write down the manufacturer (such as Panasonic), the name of the device, and most importantly the model number. Tell the salesperson you want to go home and study it on the internet. Already you might be surprised to hear that they will offer you a discount if you come back.
Once you've gone around to a few stores and wrote down a small list of the devices which interest you, look up what other consumers, or rating agencies, have said about it. If you like buying lots of stuff and during your internet search you found some useful websites which rate consumer products, you can bookmark them to make choosing future products easier.
So if for example you are interested in buying a Panasonic 3-chip digital video camera with model number XL-312, you might try doing a search on google for

panasonic XL-312 reviews
or
panasonic XL 312 forum

Note how I removed the dash in the second example. You want to experiment a bit and see what sort of results you get. I generally like to use either "reviews", or "review", or "forum". This way you can find out what others have said about it, or how professional organisations such as pc magazine <? have rated it, full of specifications and other important technical information. Such organisations might run professional diagnostics and benchmark tests, which is very useful information when comparing products before you make your important purchase.
For example, I once purchased a digital video camera and was instantly dazzled by the salesman concerning the 3 colour chip thing, and its small compact size. I ran out and purchased it, but a friend of mine researched it a bit on the internet and said that it wasn't very good for low lighting conditions. It never occurred to me to even research it like this, and ever since then I have always researched everything before buying it. I practiced researching a bit with the camera I had just purchased, and was disappointed to read all the negative comments other consumers were saying about it. I found out the device had a particular flaw that, because of its small compact size, if ever turning it on in cold temperatures, it would warm up and develop a film of dew on the electronics and be susceptible to shorting. Consumers complained that, after a year, their camera had shorted at some point, and they complained further that the company basically ignored their emails or requests for support. I guess the manufacturer discovered at some point this flaw or weakness, and rather than recall all the products off the shelf, they chose to just ignore the complaints. And sure enough, after about a year I've been having problems with this dew thing. And even worse, my friends said they noticed no great improvement in colour over their regular video camera, so the 3-chip colour thing might have been just another marketing gimmick!

Once on your search, you might discover all sorts of other interesting information, such as tips from people who have experimented for a long time and bought many products. You might find another product which is supposed to be much more superior to the one you were dazzled by in the store. Perhaps such an obscure or high quality device is not readily available in your local area, but if you search the web:

for example, if you live in the United Kingdom, where most websites end in .co.uk, you might try a search like
panasonic XL-312 stock .uk
Or leave out the "stock" and try "sale", or neither but just the product name and model

you might find a warehouse in your country which will deliver it to your front doorstep for much cheaper than if you had purchased it in a store, where you have to pay for the salesman, and the rent of the store itself. These are just one of the wonderful things about the internet.
While researching about your product you may even learn certain tricks associated with it, and perhaps entirely change your strategy and buy something quite different, or otherwise learn how to use it properly even before you buy it. After all, you might spend some time reading the manual after you buy your product. But this way you could become a quick expert and not even have to read the manual so intensively later!

Just running out and buying something, letting yourself be dazzled by the fastest talking and cleanest teethed salesperson is not a very good way how to buy something but a good way how to waste your money.
One other example which comes to my mind is the digital video camera my cousin bought. After years of experience taking pictures, making movies and being interested in photography in general, I learned that, when buying a fancy camera, it is highly advisable to protect your expensive investment by buying any number of filters, to protect the good quality lens. I have many friends who are excited about photography or making movies, run out and buy something expensive, and then let it dangle from their side, sometimes without even a lens cap! And what do you think will happen when their dangling camera accidentally knocks into a stone wall and puts a small dent or chip into the lens? Well, from then on every picture they take will have an annoying smudge in a certain place. So if you spend all that money on a fancy camera, you should definitely spend a little more on some filters (they can greatly improve the pictures, they are not that expensive, and most importantly they cover the lens) and a proper camera case. And these are the useful tips you might learn when you spend just a little bit of research time before you go out and buy your device.
Speaking about my cousin and her expensive digital video camera, she didn't even know how to download the video to a computer. I discovered there is a little trick to that, which I have explained in the previous link, and which, once again, required some internet research to find out.

And lastly, once you have found the device you are interested in, you should generally shy away from the latest cutting edge products. You should leave the purchase of those to enthusiasts or consumer guinea pigs who can try it out for you and then complain of its various problems on internet forums. Not to mention that these cutting edge devices usually drop to half their price within about a year. Do you really need the super duper latest, when within only a year it will no longer be cutting edge but sold at half the price?

Okay, good luck with your purchase! If you find some good consumer product review websites, let me know and I'll add them to these pages.

 

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