In the not-so-distant past, scientific calculators were the most technologically advanced school supplies students needed. But today's students rely on technology more than ever. Thanks to mobile phones, e-readers and portable computer tablets, the average student's back-to-school shopping list often includes at least one electronic device. But with such technological advances comes a higher price tag for supplies.
Parents faced with the task of paying for their student's school supplies, including electronics, may wonder how they can save money. Electronics can range from the affordable to the very expensive, and the most expensive product is not always the best. Here's how to shop smart for electronic school supplies.
Think about how the device will be used. Will your son or daughter be typing term papers or putting together reports? If so, a device that has a word processing function will be necessary. Although many e-readers and tablets have apps that function as word-processors, such apps won't be as comprehensive as more traditional word processing software. And unless the student has an external keyboard for typing, using a touchscreen can be cumbersome when producing lengthy assignments. Some tablets also need to be connected to a wireless printer in order to print documents. Keep these things in mind when shopping. If a student needs to jot down notes or go online to do research only, a hand-held device may be adequate.
Educate yourself. Log on to the Internet and read everything you can about the various devices available. Some parents who aren't tech savvy may quickly learn that there is an entirely new vocabulary with regards to technology and it pays to be informed. Having the information at the ready and being able to discuss what you want from a given product with a store employee will make you less likely to spend extra money on things that you probably don't need, such as accessories or upgrades.. Comparison shop. Electronics are big business, and different retailers provide different deals. For example, one retailer may not offer as good a warranty plan or tech-support as another. Compare apples to apples when comparison shopping to find the best deal. Do not be bashful about bringing in a competitor's price to a particular store you like and asking for them to match a lower price. Many stores will do so to keep your business.
Consider a refurbished item.
Manufacturers like Apple offer refurbished items that are backed with the same warranty as freshout-of-the-box merchandise. Because these machines were rebuilt, the cost is considerably lower than buying new. Also, refurbished equipment is usually thoroughly tested before it is shipped out to a new owner.
Gauge your student's level of responsibility. Is your son or daughter prone to dropping or breaking things? If so, you may not want to spend a fortune on a top-of-the-line device. The tablet market has become especially competitive, with many nameand off-brand manufacturers offering variations of Androidbased tablets for considerably less than some better-known models. For example, Chinese manufacturer Ainovo offers the Novo 7 Basic tablet for around $99. That's even less than some e-readers on the market. It may not offer as many features as other tablets, but it may be effective for basic web browsing and email.
Determine if a new device is really necessary. For some students, peer pressure plays a heavy role in their "need" for a new electronic device. If money for supplies is especially tight, and there is already a fully functioning computer at home, you may want to postpone purchasing a new device until you're more capable of paying for it. Electronics often go on sale during the holiday season.
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