Technology is one of those product categories that can confuse even those of us who consider ourselves a whizz on a smartphone or tablet – there are just so many different tech products out there, and so many ways to potentially buy them… and slash something off the usual price.
Whether you are buying a new PC as a treat for yourself, or perhaps a TV, games console or laptop for someone else, here are our top tips for paying less for electronics this festive season.
Do your research
This is surely the most important advice of all for Yuletide tech-purchasing – you can so easily end up paying more than you strictly need to for a technology product, even when it is being advertised at a discount.
Fair enough, so your son or daughter may have fallen head-over-heels in love with a given Apple or Samsung device, in which case, your task will be simpler. But if you aren't constrained by brand or model in your buying choices, you should carefully research which product best suits the recipient's requirements and assess the strengths and weaknesses of different manufacturers' offerings.
One of the easiest ways to save money on tech products without compromising on quality is to buy products that have been refurbished. These offer the same advantages of new products, having been rigorously tested and inspected to ensure they pass muster.
Laptops, phones, tablets and other strong-selling gadgets are all available refurbished. But as always, there are some cowboys out there, so make sure you only purchase from the manufacturer itself or a reputable dealer, looking out for the ‘factory certified' label.
Use voucher code sites
Another highly resourceful way to save money on Christmas tech is to use the many money off voucher sites out there, these being very much the 21st century successors to the cut-out coupons you may remember from your youth.
For example, you can easily find all manner of John Lewis discount codes for TVs, Macs, iPads and so many more popular electronics products, offering everything from percentage and monetary figure discounts to price matches, three year guarantees and even free standard UK delivery.
Visit manufacturer websites
Not everyone buying tech products at Christmas necessarily thinks to check the manufacturer's own website, many people understandably presuming that manufacturers only ever offer their products at the full Recommended Retail Price (RRP).
That may be the case at times, but manufacturers are keen to sell to you too, and may therefore have significant periodic discounts, often relating to specific product ranges or categories like monitors. Act fast if you see a great deal, as these discounts – often of up to 30% – can disappear quickly if there is no definite stated end date.
Look for a size smaller
Downsizing is one of the most time-honoured ways to pay less for tech at any time of year, and there are now more ways to do that than ever. The rise of the ‘phablet', for instance, has given another option to those who may have previously bought a 10-inch tablet.
Similarly, the influx onto the market of tablet-cum-laptops like the Dell Venue 10 7000 and Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi means that genuine professional PC and laptop functionality can be increasingly accessed at tablet price points, to say nothing of such devices' portability.
Naturally, the same principle also applies to more traditional electronic products like TVs, 32-inch and 28-inch TVs and small OLED sets having sold well in previous festive seasons.
Consider alternative brands
There are some genuinely great bargains on offer outside the more obvious brands like Apple and Samsung, although we would advise you to be careful here – while the likes of Amazon and Acer have good reputations, a brand that you have never heard of may prove a false economy.
Who, for instance, wants a fragile tablet with a washed-out screen that doesn't even offer any of their favourite apps? If you are at all unsure, you may be better off looking for heavy discounts on older or smaller versions of popular devices from the better-established manufacturers.
Weigh up old and new
It's easy to think that you only have a choice between paying for the latest version of a smartphone or tablet at full price, or a cheaper, older model that lacks the latest features.
Admittedly, you will rarely find big discounts on brand new tech products, but even smartphone prices do tend to drop after two or three months. By about six to nine months after release, they may be widely retailing for 30-40% less than their original RRP – while still being the most recent version of the phone.
Obviously, if you are buying at Christmas, you don't have the choice to wait, but if you are able to choose from a range of manufacturers, you can at least consider which models have been out for a couple of months while fulfilling all of the recipient's obvious requirements.
Don't get too intimidated by technology this festive season. If you research well and shop around, you can definitely get decent deals, even on the most popular products.