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Friday Follow-Ups: iTunes Plus Upgrades, Circuit City Sales

Two updates about topics recently discussed here:

1. The Help File item I wrote two Sundays ago is now inoperative. Please delete any bookmarks to it.


That story -- which noted that Apple was not allowing iTunes customers to upgrade only the songs of their choice to the higher-quality, digital-rights-management-free iTunes Plus format -- has been rendered obsolete by Apple's unannounced move to give iTunes shoppers that choice. You no longer have to choose between paying to upgrade every eligible song at once or upgrading none at all; instead, you can convert some past iTunes purchases to Plus while leaving others as they are.

The tech-news site Ars Technica had the news first; I verified it myself with a partial upgrade yesterday afternoon.

I was delighted to see Apple give "DRM" a swift kick in the rear with its announcement earlier this month of the iTunes Store's switch to DRM-free music. This shift isn't nearly as important, but it does knock down one other barrier to people getting music DRM out of their lives.

2. It's gotten slightly safer to look for bargains at Circuit City. The bankrupt, Richmond-based retailer announced two weeks ago that it would sell off its inventory and close it stores by March 31, but a visit to its Baileys Crossroads location last week revealed no bargains and many overpriced items.


On Wednesday, however, the firm overseeing Circuit City's liquidation sale announced that it would take a further whack at pricing, taking 25 percent off plasma TVs, 20 percent off LCD TVs and 40 percent off car stereo systems, among other discounts.

A stop at the same Baileys Crossroads store yesterday evening revealed more empty shelves but also a better range of offers among the remaining hardware. Some items -- for instance, a Canon camera "discounted" for more than it sells for on Amazon -- were as unattractively priced as ever. But others either cost no more than at the benchmark Web retailer or, in a few cases, were selling for less.

For example, a Panasonic DVD recorder had dropped to $184, lower than at any online outlet. And a 26-inch Sony LCD TV was selling for a full $70 less than at Amazon, and no more than at any online retailer found by the three shopping search engines I checked on my phone. So I bought one.

All of Circuit City's stores have to be shuttered by March 31, which should allow for further reductions in price. And since the location I visited seemed to have plenty of TVs left in smaller (22-inch) and larger (40-inch) sizes, it may warrant one last visit. But when should that be? You all had an interesting discussion about timing your shopping during liquidation sales in the last Circuit City post; let's continue that in the comments here.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 30, 2009; 10:46 AM ET
Categories:  Music , Pleasant surprises  
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Went to CC on Friday assuming they would be dropping prices a bit that day, and I priced a 5-pack of Mini DV tapes at $12. Same as what I can do on Amazon. Maybe one more round of cuts and there will be some bargains! I'll try again next Friday.

Posted by: mb129 | January 31, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Rob, I would be interested in knowing exactly what went wrong with the iTunes Store for a couple of days last week, at least. It refused to allow downloads, saying that it could not access the credits in customer accounts. Then, in my case, it eventually debited my account several times while downloading content only once. Seems as of interest as Google's briefer badware episode.

Posted by: query0 | February 3, 2009 3:35 AM | Report abuse

CC's persistant, arrogant, indifferent stupidity even at this late date more than anything shows why they are going extinct. Economy notwithstanding, their decline was inevitable the day they decided to fire all their most experienced salestaff to "save" money.

Posted by: musket1 | February 3, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

The Springfield store is now devoid of iPods. The Blu-Ray selection is now 25% off but is severely depleted, even though most of the selection is still cheaper at Amazon.

Probably won't be any real bargains until March 15th, but by then, only store fixtures, old PS2 games, and the candy will be left...

Posted by: mwolve87 | February 5, 2009 3:59 AM | Report abuse

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