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PostPoints tip: Read the manual before you buy

If the descriptions of products on Web sites and in stores always characterized their features accurately, shopping for complicated electronic gadgets would be a lot easier. And if pigs had wings, air travel would be subject to even more random delays. To avoid surprises when you open up and power on some new device, hit the support section of its manufacturers' Web site and look up its manual--most of the time, you should be able to find it either by searching for a product name or by browsing a list of current hardware. That document (expect it to be presented as a PDF file) may not make for the most exciting reading, but it should accurately describe what the gadget in question does and does not do, and its directions should also indicate how easy or difficult it is to operate. A well-written manual can also suggest that the company values usability enough to put some effort into putting together clear instructions--something too many firms neglect.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  October 20, 2009; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Tips  
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